Brilliant Benfield too good for Hook

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Portsmouth & Southsea returned to winning ways with a thumping 180-run success over Hook & Newnham Basics II in Hampshire League division one.

Dave Tiller’s league leaders bounced back in fine style after last week’s shock defeat by bottom-club Bedhampton.

And now the St James Hospital outfit, who only need to net two points to confirm their spot in the inaugural Southern Electric Premier League division four next summer, face a two-way shootout for the title.

‘It is between us and Bashley for the title going into the final weekend,’ said Tiller.

‘If we win our last game at Portchester next week then the title is ours.

‘This is the best we have played this season and what was needed after a few indifferent displays.

‘We can now go into the crucial last game with confidence.’

Openers Ash Wallace (50) and Dave Upton (62) gave the home side a solid start after they were put into bat.

But it was Matt Benfield (96 not out) and 16-year-old Ed Coulson (44) who took the game away from the visitors as they crashed 100 off the final 10 overs.

And the target of 275 was always beyond Hook once Jono Willey (four for 16) ripped through their top order.

‘It’s in our own hands now,’ said the skipper.

The great escape is still on for Bedhampton as they secured a third consecutive win by edging to a two-wicket success at Midhurst.

Martin Hovey (47) and Harry Hovey (59) kept their nerve as the visitors chased down a target of 240 runs.

The Mariners now face a crucial last game against fellow strugglers Fareham & Crofton on the final weekend.

Luke Gould’s Fareham side warmed up for that finale with a two-wicket win at bottom club Andover II.

Portchester took the local honours with a five-wicket win at Purbrook.

After bowling the home side out for 128 runs, Richie Locke (61) guided Portchester to a win that saw them leapfrog their hosts into sixth-place.

Mike Boyd (134) hit a superb century as Locks Heath surged to a 41-run win at Rowledge.

Waterlooville and Lymington II tied a thriller at Rowlands Avenue with both teams ending on 128 runs.

In division two, Mike Lever’s six for 43 proved in vain as Hayling Island suffered a heartbreaking one-wicket defeat at Otterbourne.

Struggling Portsmouth II slumped to a 52-run defeat at promotion-chasing Old Basing.