SOUTH Wilts paid the penalty for twice allowing promising positions to slip through their fingers and were beaten by three wickets by ECB Southern Premier Division rivals Bournemouth at Chapel Gate.

They were firmly in the driving seat at 103-2 only to collapse to 154 all out, after a superb five-wicket new-ball spell by left-arm quick Josh Croom had reduced Bournemouth to 58-6.

It was South Wilts’ second defeat in the initial batch of 50-over ‘white ball’ matches – they begin the traditional all-day ‘time’ version against Bashley (Rydal) at Bemerton on Saturday (11am) – but five of the other 10 Premier Division teams have also lost twice.

Dorset spin all-rounder Rob Pack hauled Bournemouth from the brink of defeat to a nail biting three-wicket win.

His unbeaten 46 proved the mainstay of two key partnerships, initially with Chris Park (21) then teenager Conor Smith (21no), lifting Bournemouth from 58-6 and past South Wilts’ 154 all out with 11 balls to spare.

The match took a significant twist after drinks in the afternoon session with South Wilts firmly in the driving seat, with Peter Rowe and Ben Draper building on the 86-run start Tom Morton (17) and Jack Stearman (23) had largely provided.

South Wilts were 103-2 and eyeing a 250-plus total when Draper made a pig’s ear of trying to reverse sweep Jake Hurley and not long after Rowe (56), who is in a rich vein of form and was batting nicely, tried unsuccessfully to play a ramp shot and departed, furious with himself.

Spinners Hurley (4-34), who bowled really well, supported by Pack (2-23) and Smith, drove a dagger into the heart of the South Wilts innings, which fell apart in remarkable fashion.

Batsmen seemed to lose all composure as seven wickets fell for 23 runs – from 131-3 to 154 all out as chaos reigned in the middle.

“We didn’t rebuild and lost wickets in clusters,” groaned skipper Draper.

South Wilts hit back with Croom ripping out Bournemouth’s top five, including Tasmanian birthday boy Tom Willoughby (27).

When he fell at 49-5, Bournemouth were in a sorry state and in even deeper trouble nine runs later when Hurley was trapped leg before.

But Park (21) used all his experience to weather the storm and soon found a reliable partner in Pack.

They wrestled the initiative away from South Wilts and more than doubled the score – until 122-6 when Park nicked one behind to give the returning Croom (6-16) his sixth wicket.

Smith may be a Premier Division rookie, but coming in at nine he did not lack confidence and provided the perfect foil for Park, who had the whole situation under control, none more so than when he dumped a huge six over long-on.

Smith went for his shots and, as South Wilts spilled two dolly catches, Bournemouth gobbled up the last 30-odd runs they needed to pull off a fine victory. Park finished 46 not out.

“We knew from previous matches against them that Bournemouth bat deep down the order, so nothing was in the bag even with them 54-6. We were fully aware we still needed wickets,” Draper reflected.

“On the plus side, Josh Croom is looking really good at the moment, reproducing the form he’s shown for Glenelg in Adelaide in the past two winters. He’s a real asset to the team.

“Saturday’s match against Bashley (Rydal) is a key game as we’ve both lost twice already. Half the teams can beat each other, so its essential we kick start the all-day stuff on a positive note.”

  • SOUTH Wilts are out of the ECB Royal London national club championship – but a seriously weakened side produced a decent performance before losing by 15 runs to WEPL power-men Potterne at Wilton Road.

The tie clashing with Wiltshire’s National Counties One Day Cup match against Dorset largely meant South Wilts fielding only three recognised first-team players.

But with Tom Grant and Aaryan Sen sharing six wickets, they reduced Potterne to 81-7 before Tahir Afridi smacked 50 off 41 balls and changed the shape of the innings. Potterne closed at 141 all out, Rob Pittman and Henry Smith taking two wickets each.

Former South Wilts colt Ben Highton blew Wilts’ batting away with a stunning spin spell of 5-20 to leave the hosts 36-7.

Smith (26) and James Brewer (20), aided by 39 sundries, took South Wilts' final score to 126 all out.

  • SOUTH Wilts seconds will be disappointed they did not nail down Portsmouth & Southsea when the visitors slipped to 99-6 in the Southern Premier Division Three match at Bemerton.

But the unbeaten table-topping visitors batted their way out of trouble by recovering to post 170 and later bowl South Wilts out for 102 to win by 68 runs.

Portsmouth held the early initiative, but two-wicket spells by Tom Lewis and Nick Partridge followed by a double breakthrough at 99, put South Wilts back in the game.

But Max Goddard (30) and Dean Lee (25no) turned the tide, despite a three-wicket return by promising teenager leg spinner Kit Blomfield, who took 3-30.

South Wilts found themselves floundering against the visitors’ spin attack, losing their last six wickets for 22 runs to be all out for 102, Dan Brown top scoring with 23.