VICTORY over at Hook and Newham Basics III secured Redlynch and Hale the Hampshire League County Three North league crown, writes ANDY CHURCH.

It was the first time since the amalgamation between Redlynch and Hale in the 1980's have won a league title.

A tricky encounter away at Hook and Newnham Basics III for James Taylor's team meant that a minimum of 17 points to take top spot.

Asked to bat first on a dampish looking pitch with plenty of grass, the visitors looked in trouble early doors when poor Dave Webber, who had been held up in traffic and arrived late, was caught at the wicket without scoring.

Ian Tanner battled hard for just 10 on the unpredictable track, before Glen Willoughby (64) and Andy Soutar (65) produced the partnership of the match taking the score from 30-2 to 147-3.

Will Hewlett then went cheaply before Kev Hopkins played a typical innings striking 45 in 27 balls including his 50th maximum of the season. Helped by no fewer than 55 extras the visitors pushed on and with the skipper 15 not out at the end, a total of 267-7 was on the board, which was to prove a bridge too far for the hosts.

Ben Brown started with his usual economic return, with 2-13 as he accounted for Charlie Neville and Mike Dyer.

After switching the bowling around after that and giving Hook little time to settle, it was Hopkins who trapped Barry Goodman in front. Webber made it 59-4 with a fine run out, hitting the timbers direct from mid wicket.

With the chips well and truly down, home skipper Vinny Gardiner battled hard for a stylish 56 being undefeated at the end, but Hopkins (2-6) and George Hayes (1-34) struck further.

With overs running out and the pressure on the hosts, Taylor brought himself on to bowl, claiming 2-26 to put an end to affairs, leaving a deficit of 92 runs and no fewer than 23 points which sealed the title.

There were jubilant scenes at Redlynch Sports and Social Club, when the team returned, with celebrations long into the night.

For in a bizarre turn of events, the news came through that despite losing, the second XI had also gained promotion from Regional Division One North West by virtue of other contenders losing badly and South Wilts IV conceding its game.

Laverstock and Ford posted 238-5 thanks to Brad Rouse (93 not out), with Tom Emm (2-34) best of the bowlers.

In reply Nathan Pollard (32) Ewan Tanner (44) and Ian Stevens (38not out) all contributed but could only reach 191-7 as the overs ran out.

And there was yet more excitement as the third XI played out a second consecutive tie.

Andy Church (65 not out) and Wil Powell (40), were the mainstays in a total of 145-7.

In reply Thruxton finished exactly level on 145-8 as Ian Dixon returned 4-30.

The third string have an outside chance of promotion if they can beat Shrewton III and Hyde II lose next week in an unusual September league game.

The champions pictured: Back left to right: Alan George (umpire), Andy Soutar, Ben Brown, James Taylor (Capt), Ian Tanner, Kev Hopkins, Russ Church, Lin Church (scorer)

Front row left to right:Will Hewlett, Ben Vincent, Glenn Willoughby, George Hayes, Dave Webber.

They did it! A great performance to secure 23 points and see off the challenge from RAM. Seconds also promoted on a mathematical calculation despite losing, due to others losing plus South Wilts IV (of all people) conceding their game!!! And unbelievably, a second consecutive TIE for the 3rd XI - details all below.