Frenchay's tail-enders snatch victory over Stapleton to win Bristol and North Somerset title
ALEX Stell and Ian McCormack put on 59 runs for the tenth wicket to clinch Frenchay a memorable home victory over title rivals Stapleton and seal promotion from the WEPL's Bristol & North Somerset division.
Stapleton, who were all out for 155, had one hand on the silverware as Frenchay folded to 97-9 in this winner-takes-all derby clash on the final Saturday of the season.
But Stell (26 from 51 balls) and McCormack (24 from 53 deliveries) had other ideas, whittling away at their target with composure and assurance, despite the nail-biting tension to share the biggest partnership of the day and spark great scenes of celebration between disbelieving players and supporters.
The pair had a slice of luck, including giving what would have been a regulation catch to a fielder had he not been blinded by the low sun, but otherwise were in total control against the most potent bowling attack in the division.
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Skipper Danny Chard (46 not out) and Ghulam Shabbir (38) had earlier top-scored for Stapleton, Stell (3-19 from eight), Eddie Williams (3-36) and McCormack (2-32, both from ten) the pick of the home attack.
Frenchay were then in disarray at 28-4 before rallying thanks to Tyrone Isitt (46) and Josse Van de Weyer (23) only to then collapse again against Chard (3-31), Matt Leonard (2-23) and Callum Sharp (2-27), setting up Stell and McCormack for their heroic backs-against-the-wall stand.
Home skipper Mike Donaldson said: "What's happened is madness, complete and utter madness.
"To be honest, when we lost our sixth wicket I did not think for a minute that we were going to win this game.
"In my mind it was almost all about damage limitation and not being too embarrassed.
"Even with 30 needed, I didn't really believe we would win so this is about as surreal as it gets.
"And for Alex to take his 200th wicket for the club and then hit probably his highest score is unbelievable."
Ultimately, the efforts of a dedicated group in ensuring the game went ahead despite midweek deluges were rewarded as Frenchay ended the campaign seven points ahead of Timsbury, 73-run victors at Twyford House. Jez Hare (54) and Greg Passingham (48) lifted the village side to 161, Tom Armfield ending a tremendous first season at Twyford with 3-13 from ten. Brothers Dave (5-31 from ten) and Gary Filer (2-19) then ripped through the home side with Jon Strand bagging 2-3 at the end.
Lansdown finished third thanks to a 68-run home defeat of Winterbourne, Daryn-Lee Dorman out for 99.
Claverham's disappointing campaign ended on a high with a three-wicket win at local rivals Congresbury, Henry Isack (22) and Charlie Ferris (18) sharing an unbroken stand of 49. And bottom side Nailsea were crushed by 141 runs at Shirehampton.
The Bristol & Somerset title, meanwhile, went to Minehead who thumped bottom side Bristol West Indians by 159 runs to hold off challenging Clevedon. Steve Hayes' 7-25, including the hat-trick, saw bottom side BWI ripped out for 105, just as Clevedon were cruising to a ten-wicket success at ninth-placed Knowle who were dismissed for only 51, Wayne Kylander bagging 4-3 and Matt Carpenter 3-14.
Clevedon finished 11 points behind Minehead, but 12 in front of Bedminster who slipped by eight wickets at home to Midsomer Norton, for whom Martin Cox top-scored on 73.
Bishopston maintained their strong finish to the summer with a 70-run win at Brislington.
Brislington's Dave O'Brien (73) and opener Mark Coombes (63) were in the runs.
But then George Harris (4-23), Stuart Luff (3-25) and Coombes (3-35) struck for the visitors.