DESPITE dominating with the ball, Penarth’s batting proved fragile as the Bears fell short in a low-scoring encounter at Newport Fugitives on Saturday.

The Fugitives 115 all out looked insufficient at the half-way mark but Penarth’s batting succumbed to the home side’s all-spin attack as their title hopes took a major blow.

After Friday’s bad weather stand-in skipper Richard Skone had no hesitation in inviting the Fugitives to bat and Penarth found themselves in charge immediately as Ryan Sylvester bowled James Didcote and Roy Emmott to leave the hosts 9 for 2.

On a pitch that was proving extremely difficult to bat on Louis Tovey was next to go, caught behind by Slugg off Sylvester for 4, before Morgan Humphreys extra pace brought him the vital wicket of Nathan Millichip and that of James Simkins to leave the Fugitives at 49 for 5.

Jack Thorpe-Yon made the most of being dropped at slip off Humphreys to guide the Fugitives’ tail with some sensible stroke play, while Steffan Crimp enjoyed the conditions to pick up a useful 2 for 23 before Richard Skone picked up the 8th wicket with the score at 82.

Thorpe Yon dominated a useful stand of 31 with Ross Madden before Sylvester returned to wrap the innings up, and with it figures of 5 for 32, as the Fugitives made 115, with Thorpe-Yon unbeaten on 45 and only one other player in double figures.

Having seen the difficult conditions first-hand the Fugitives opened up with dual left-arm spin in the shape of Emmott and Didcote and the decision immediately paid dividends as Scott Matthews shouldered arms to Emmott and was bowled with the score still zero.

Sylvester showed some positive intent before being well caught by a diving Simkins at mid off from the same bowler before Jack Thomas was LBW to Didcote with score at just 17 shortly after.

With the ball turning and the bounce variable this was becoming a real contest and it became one that was heading the Fugitives’ way when Dafydd Manley was LBW to a ball from Emmott which kept ridiculously low.

22 for 4 become 35 for 6 as Will Skone edged off spinner Millichip to slip and Nick Morgan went the same way to Didcote for 12 shortly after as the home side sensed victory. Richard Skone and Steffan Crimp showed some promise for Penarth before Skone became the third man caught at slip as he drove loosely at Ross Madden to leave Penarth in deep trouble when a delayed tea was taken at 55 for 7.

After the interval Crimp played some positive shots before being dismissed by Madden for 14 and Morgan Humphreys looked the most fluent of the Penarth batsmen with some selective hitting to take the score along to 82 before being another LBW victim of a ball keeping low for a top-score of 18.

The remaining runs proved beyond the last pair and Mark Thomas was LBW to Madden to leave Penarth 91 all out on a desperately disappointing afternoon.

There was better news for the seconds who enjoyed an excellent 6 wicket win over Cardiff to maintain top spot in the league.

Cardiff began the game well despite some excellent bowling from Rhys McGowan and found themselves in a strong position at 81 for 1 before Tom Pascoe and Andrew Graveson claimed a handful of middle order wickets and skipper Tim Miller wrapped up the tail with a terrific spell of 4 for 13 to leave Cardiff 139 all out, with Ollie Hughes making an impressive 47.

Top order batsmen Lewis Ingram, Ryan Herbert and Nitin Mathias went relatively cheaply but the Penarth innings was guided by a well-made 50 from Luke Tillbrook and although he fell before the end Nathan Piddock, with 32, and Greg Cross, 10, guided their team home with 9 overs to spare.

The thirds game fell victim to Friday’s weather but the fourths unblemished record remains intact following a 7 wicket win over Cynon Valley.

The visitors made 140 for 9 from their 40 overs as Robert and Morgan Crimp, Julien Humphreys and Rhys Mottram shared the wickets while Andy Prickett and Richard Anderton bowled a combined 10 overs for just 9 runs.

Dai Carter top-scored with 41 in the Penarth reply while Ishy Akhtar made 37 not out and Ian Summerfield 24 as Penarth cruised home with 12 overs to spare.

The growth of the club has been evidenced by the success this summer of the ladies’ softball team who have been enjoying their first season in Penarth colours.

This weekend they won the league at a festival held at Radyr CC and also including Rogerstone, Malpas, Sudbrook and Blackwood. They have also won the final and been runners up at two previous festivals on the growing South Wales circuit, an impressive effort in their first season.

This week sees the first and thirds host Gorseinon and Barry respectively, while the seconds visit Newport Fugitives and the fourths Sudbrook.