JAMES Hibberd was the influential figure for South Wilts as they successfully defended a competitive 186-8 to beat ECB Southern Electric Premier League rivals St Cross Symondians by 54 runs at the Green Jackets Ground.

Arriving at the crease with South Wilts an uncertain 115-5, Hibberd biffed a timely 45 not out and later, coming back for a second bowling spell, produced the ball of the day to castle Hampshire prospect Lewis McManus and effectively decide the outcome of the match.

From a healthy 65-1, St Cross crumbled to 132 all out – South Wilts celebrating three runs outs and taking some good catches.

The South Wilts total was largely based around Steve Riddle’s 42 and a late knock from Hibberd, who batted sensibly, pushing the ball for one’s and two’s before launching one enormous six into the adjoining St Cross Road traffic.

Off-spinner Jordan Finney (3-32) and Richard Taylor (3-34) were the pick of the St Cross bowlers.

Skipper Tom Morton, an early new-ball victim for Taylor, felt South Wilts’ 186-8 was “a bit above par” and was delighted with his side’s display in the field.

“We still had to field and bowl well to win the game – but we delivered,”

“We work hard on our fielding, especially catching, in training and it paid off.”

Chasing targets is seldom straight forward on the Green Jackets Ground and St Cross never really got themselves into a position from which they could mount a serious challenge to the South Wilts score.

Matt Drakeley (43) effectively chipped the in-field in a somewhat unorthodox knock at the top of the innings, but generally there wasn’t a great degree of responsibility about the St Cross reply.

By 65-1, they had got themselves into a decent position, but in consecutive balls Jordan Finney holed out in the deep and McManus got a brute of a delivery from Hibberd which pitched middle and hit the top of the off-stump.

Wickets fell in clusters after that, South Wilts taking some good catches and James Hayward, Harry Hawkins and Jack Mynott, in particular, enjoying success with run-outs.

South Wilts’ second win has moved them to within a place of leaders Havant, whom Morton's side visit in a Time Pennant match on June 28.

Before then, the defending champions are back in league action when Totton & Eling visit on Saturday (11.30am).