By John Guy

DINAS Powys Cricket Club enjoyed a welcome return to form last week with three wins and a narrow defeat from four matches.

In the Firsts, an impressive all-round team performance saw off a strong Hopkinstown in an 18-run victory away from home.

Batting first on a damp and difficult wicket, Dinas posted a competitive 219-9 off their 40 overs, with runs for Gordon Hannah (36), Jason Harries (32) and in-form Casey Hughes (58).

In response, Town were looking good at 120-2 before wickets tumbled at regular intervals; Hughes (8-1-29-2) bowling his finest spell this season to pin one of the league’s top batsmen.

Stuart Jones picked up another cluster (4-30) to add to his growing tally, while young Ryan Mullins (7-0-37-1) performed well after his call-up from the Seconds.

The ever-steady Ken Barlow, a veteran of many years in Dinas colours as well as on the cobbles, returned figures of 8-0-43-2.

A fine win in challenging conditions relieves pressure on the revived Villagers, after three defeats on the spin had left one or two looking over their shoulder.

Elsewhere at Bryn-y-Don, some prolonged rain and the suspicious removal of an overnight cover reduced overs to 30 per side which made for an entertaining encounter between DPCC Twos and high-flying Llandaff Thirds.

Winning the toss and bowling first, the home side did well to restrict their attacking visitors to 171-8 off their allocation, with an excellent spell of seam bowling from Reuben Mitchell keeping a lid on the early exchanges.

As it was, pace off the ball proved the order of the day and Rhys Lloyd (6-0-23-3) and Lloyd DiMauro (4-0-19-2) bowled well to claw Llandaff back from what could have been a much more daunting total.

Chasing, DiMauro (55) and the industrious James Hiscocks (52) got the Villagers close – but not quite close enough, Dinas falling agonisingly short by just 16 runs.

There was much better news at Blackweir, however, where Dinas Thirds chased 166 with 8 balls and 3 wickets to spare.

Impressive bowling from Nigel Preece (2 wickets), Gareth Storey (3) and Rhys Bradley (3) restricted Bay Dragons Seconds to 165 all out inside 38 overs.

Contributions from Nilo Wilton (24), Matt Coughtrey (11) and man-of-the-moment Storey (46) set the Villagers up for Andy Hurley, who allegedly ‘used to open’ in a former life, to see Dinas home in a nail-biting affair.

Hurley’s measured 23no towards the end of the innings proved vital in getting the promotion-seeking Third Team over the line.

It wasn’t all smiles for poor Mave Wilton though, who suffered a lost lunch at the hands of ravenous crows – a lesson to any young cricketer to zip up your kit bag before taking the field.

In a scene out of Hitchcock's The Birds, Si's sausage rolls never stood a chance as Blackweir's resident flock cleaned up quicker than Mave filled up at the Athletic Club.

Finally, a word on Andy Hurley’s heroic Midweek XI, which won through to the final of the Vale’s midweek cup by beating a strong Pentyrch on the Common.

Batting first, a strong start by Gordon Hannah (15) and Olly Hurley (27) got Dinas going before a flurry of wickets derailed the innings slightly.

An 88-run partnership between Stuart Jones (31) and Simon Le Above Average (40) proved decisive, as the Villagers amassed a testing 166-7 off their 20 overs.

With the ball, early pressure from Will Palmer (4-0-15-2) and A. Hurley, with support from Richie Morgan, kept Dinas firmly on top before a tremendous 5 for 8 from Jones sealed the deal – the midweek mob wrapping up victory by 38 runs.

One wonders what culinary delights Mrs H has planned for the cup final at Barry Island on August 11.