Pembrokeshire County Cricket
It was the champagne moment supporters of Llechryd Cricket Club had been waiting for all season and it was delivered in timely fashion by big hitting batsman Rhys Beard.
With his team just five runs away from victory and needing a win to stay in division two, Beard bludgeoned the ball high back over the bowlers head and into the pavilion to complete a scintillating half century with a six and more importantly he saved his team from relegation on the last day of the season.
Skipper John Curran and his team were under huge pressure to gain sufficient points for survival against one time leaders Narberth who had little to play for and Llechryd were fortunate on this occasion to win a useful toss and decided to take advantage of bowling first on a drying wicket.
After some tight early overs from the consistently reliable Pete Betteley and Graham Keen, it was the first change bowlers of Rhys Beard finishing with superb figures of 5-41 and Mike Godfrey with 2-24,who ripped through the Otters batting line up and they struggled for runs and closed on 144-9 in 45 overs.
Talented all rounder Loui Davies was the Narberth top scorer and he made 55 whilst Richard Adams (30), Owen Richards (14), Mike Johns (11) all chipped in.
Once again, it was the catching that let Llechryd down in the field with six being spilled but they got away with it on this occasion.
An excellent and rapid opening partnership of 50 runs between Mikey Carter (34) and Andrew Fletcher (22 not out) gave Llechryd a great start followed by some excellent batting from Steve Smith with a solid knock of 21 runs. Left hander Smith was dropped with just two runs to his name but he made the most of his good fortune and rattled off some quick runs and after driving a straight four he chipped the next ball straight into the bread basket of a fielder at mid on and this time the chance was taken.
However, there was to be no dramatic collapse on this occasion as the explosive hitting of man of the match Beard saw Llechryd home in the 30th over to complete a very well deserved fifty with a powerfully hit six into a vociferous crowd camped in front of the clubhouse in the glorious sunshine.
Relegation rivals Stackpole, who will take their place in division three next season, managed to conjure up a win as expected and collected 29 points but this was not sufficient as Llechryd gained 27 points and finished two points above them in the drop zone.
Llechryd 2nds completed their season with a losing draw at Carew and they will play their cricket in division four next season and will renew their rivalry with local side Crymych. Carew 2nds posted a very healthy total of 228-9 with Iori Hicks top scoring with 57 and Dai Rees not far behind on 44 not out. Rob Hicks also crafted a useful innings of 31. Nick North with 3-24 and Ollie Roberts 3-66 claimed the bulk of the wickets for Llechryd.
Opener Andrew Davies was the mainstay of the Llechryd reply with a patient half century but the visitors were never at the races and hung on for a losing draw at 116-6.
Opening bat Richard Thorne made sure there was also a happy end of season for his Crymych side as his knock of 117 ensured that the Preseli men stayed up in division four following a difficult season. Thorne sent the Llangwm fielders scurrying to all parts of the ground as he and Rhodri Thomas (34) and Sam Kurtz (13) made the most of some indifferent bowling and Crymych ended on 189-5.
Thorne hit 14 boundaries before he was eventually run out and his opening partner Thomas suffered the same fate but between them they produced a stand of 112 to set up the ‘must win’ they were chasing.
Llangwm 2nds in reply were always struggling apart from the fine efforts of Sean Waller who made 62 and Gary Phillips with 27 and they settled for a losing draw at 140-6 and this result was sufficient for the Preselimen to avoid the drop.