PREMIER class finally told as Paignton hung onto the Beer Seller Devon KO Cup with a 27-run win over battling Budleigh Salterton at Bovey Tracey.

   Paignton were always favourites to retain the trophy as their opponents had been bouncing along the foot of the A Division all season and only escaped the drop with a last-day win over Cornwood.

   But there were times when it started to look a bit tight for Paignton, who were grateful to see the back of Ray Dawson and Jeremy Crooker before it got too close for comfort.

   And once they went, Budleigh needed another 67 to win off the last 10 overs with five wickets intact - a chase which proved beyond them.

   Paignton's total of 166 for seven wasn't as many as they expected and was testimony to tight bowling from Budleigh's six-man attack.

   Keith Benton made 35, Peter Estcourt cleaning him out with a ball which kept low, while Rasheed Lewis made 20 before driving Estcourt into the hands of Joel Murphy at cover.

   And when Mark Ashworth found Murphy off the bowling of Rob Newing, Paignton were 98 for three with half-way rapidly approaching.

   Tim Ward hit an unbeaten 31 in the second-half and with Terry Farkins (12) and Mark Griffiths chipping in with 15 before he was caught by a juggling Estcourt, Paignton had something to defend.

   At 26 for three, Ward taking two wickets and Martin Powell the third, Budleigh looked out of it.

   But Dawson (26) and Crooker (48) salvaged the situation and at 93 for three it was game on.

   Once Dawson played-on cutting Jason Woodcock, Paignton got back on top and when Crooker was trapped by the same bowler it was all over bar the shouting.

   Paceman Lewis knocked over the tail as Budleigh were bowled out off the last ball for 139.

   Paignton 166-7 (T Ward 31, M Ashworth 23, K Benton 35; J Crooker 2-28, R Newing 2-25), Budleigh 139 (J Crooker 48, R Dawson 21, R Newing 21; R Lewis 3-24, J Woodcock 2-10).


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