Eastern Counties run up a cricket score

Eastern Counties 95 Berkshire 0COMING into this game all seemed lost as far as further progression was concerned in this year's County Championship.Faced with an almost impossible task of winning by a cricket score and then relying on results going their way, Counties' players could easily have thrown in the towel.

Eastern Counties 95 Berkshire 0

COMING into this game all seemed lost as far as further progression was concerned in this year's County Championship.

Faced with an almost impossible task of winning by a cricket score and then relying on results going their way, Counties' players could easily have thrown in the towel.

Prospects didn't improve as the Eastern Counties players and official were welcomed at Bracknell with a monsoon-like storm that flooded the pitch, leaving ground staff with a monumental task.

However, none of this was on the minds of the Eastern Counties players as they prepared for, probably, their final game of this year's championship.

Although weakened by the loss of Tim Groom and Des Brett, preparations seemed perfect when Counties hit the ground like a team who had a job to do and in only the second minute signalled their intentions.

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Andy Thorpe should have scored on their first attack, but dropped the ball and Counties management wondered if it was going to be one of those afternoons.

Eastern Counties went on to rack up fifteen tries, but they also squandered a further five or six certain try-scoring opportunities in the game through errors and poor judgement.

Counties took the lead in the fourth minute when Tom Hughes scored a superb solo effort.

Two minutes later, following a turnover, Hartpury College sixth- former Peter Clifford went over for his first of three tries.

This was the start of a continuous assault on the Berkshire line throughout the first half and tries from Stefan Libenburg, Iain Young, Steve Hipwell and a second from Clifford made the half-time score 38-0.

Indeed, had things gone right, Counties should have passed the half-century, with four further tries being missed through errors and stout defending from the home side.

The most glaring miss came on the stroke of half-time when Counties squandered a five-to-one overlap when the players seemed to be confused as to who should score, and Berkshire survived.

The second half became increasingly difficult for Berkshire as the Counties' fitness shone through - not that Berkshire gave in, it was just the continual bombardment from Counties that took the spirit out of a plucky set of players.

Two tries from Andy Horne, a third try from Clifford, a hat-trick of tries from Liebenburg, two from Adam Gowan and one from Tom Holt gave Eastern Counties the victory they needed to provide the best chance of progression.

Eastern Counties were now reliant upon results in other groups. Kent's loss to East Midlands was the first result to come through and against all the odds the emphatic victory over Berkshire meant that Eastern Counties had topped their group and earned a home tie against Hampshire tomorrow at Diss, (kick off 3pm).

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