THE Recreation Ground in Dinton was bathed in sunshine on Saturday as the hosts welcomed the unbeaten Paultons III for a top of the table clash, writes RICH PEARCE.

With regular skipper Richard Cridge enjoying the splendour of a Scout camp in the New Forest, vice captain Tom Patrick took up the reins, having already excelled in his first job by producing a belter of a track.

Part two also went to plan as he won the toss and had no hesitation in opting to bat first.

The regular opening pair of Patrick and Ben Coombes strode to the wicket, intent to carry on their good form, but were put under pressure straight away by the Paultons opening bowlers.

Arguably the best Dinton have faced this season so far.

Frampton and Ottenhorst bowled a good line, and the latter with good pace, leaving the Dinton batsmen no choice but to defend well and wait for the odd loose ball.

Both batsmen were up to the task and were hitting the ball well as the 50 was posted in the 12th over.

After an early drinks break due to the sweltering conditions, both batsmen became slightly becalmed as the Paultons bowlers continued to toil away but at the half way stage, the home team were handily placed on 87 for no loss.

The introduction of the second change bowlers gave Coombes in particular the impetus he needed and suddenly the ball was flying to all parts again as he struck several massive sixes.

Patrick was steadily accumulating at the other end and despite a couple of nervy moments, finally managed to reach his first league half century with a fine drive through the off side, a true captains knock.

Coombes reached his own half century a couple of balls later and the runs continued to flow as the bowlers started to tire. The first wicket partnership had reached 152 when the first wicket fell, Patrick being well caught off the bowling of Lance Shallow for a well made 56.

Nick Gale joined Coombes at the crease but their partnership was short lived as Coombes, suffering from a poorly stomach, was bowled by Shallow for 78.

Andy Nuttall was in at number four and was quickly into his stride, unleashing a couple of booming off drives.

The re-introduction of Ottenhorst led to the downfall of Nuttall as he slapped a full toss straight to the grateful hands of mid on and departed for 11. Sean Howell, promoted up the order as a pinch- hitter, contributed just four before being stumped off the bowling of Holgate and it was left to Si Rawlins, with some effective swinging and Gale to see out the innings.

Gale finished on a tidy 31 not out with Rawlins on 11. All the Paulton bowlers bowled well with Shallow (2-39) being the standout.

Dinton took the field after yet another plentiful tea knowing that they would have to bowl well as they had not batted the opposition totally out of the game as in previous weeks.

James Nuttall and Rich Pearce opened proceedings and immediately settled into tight opening spells. With Nuttall swinging the ball prodigiously and Pearce extracting some extravagant seam movement, life was tough for the Paulton's openers.

Nuttall was the first to strike, Saunders striking the ball sweetly but only finding the safe hands of Dan Syckelmoore in the covers who took a smart catch. Nuttall struck again two overs later, a beautiful delivery that beat Phillips all end up and bowled him for eight.

Paultons were wobbling on 15-2 after just 8 overs and Dinton sniffed an early finish.

However, Sydenham and Pike had other ideas and, after seeing off the opening spell, settled in and began to play some bold attacking shots. Sydenham was particularly severe on anything short and wide and with Pike growing in stature as the innings progressed, they reached the first drinks break on a healthier looking 56-2.

Sean Howell, operating from the Pavillion End was now bowling with good pace and control and he was the man to make the all important breakthrough as Sydenham pulled a good length delivery towards the square leg boundary where Coombes, crouching as low as he could to get his fingers pointing upwards, took a good catch.

Andy Nuttall replaced an oddly expensive Martin Stennings from the Playground End and struck with just his fourth delivery as Pike was comprehensively bowled for 28.

Dinton sensed that the game was there's for the taking and despite most batsmen getting starts, Howell (2-32), Gale (2-23) and Nuttall (2-24) continued to chip away at the Paulton's line up, aided by some solid catching from Pearce and Patrick. Nuttall Junior returned to snare his third victim but Dinton were unable to take the last wicket as youngsters Lalani Hills and Mike Johnson held out for the last two overs, Paultons finishing on a creditable 170-9.

James Nuttall was the games standout bowler, returning figures of eight overs, one maiden, three wickets for 22 runs.

Dinton were glad to take 23 points from one of the better games they have been involved in so far this season and look forward to welcoming Trojans III next week as they bid to win an eighth straight game.