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IN a tense and exciting final, holders Billingborough retained the Pattinson Cup but were made to fight all the way by a gallant Belton Park side.

Just one boundary separated the sides after two evenings of good, competitive cricket at Sleaford's London Road ground, with Billingborough taking the trophy they won last year by four runs.

On the opening night, Belton batted first. They were pinned down by an enthusiastic, confident Billingborough side and after the first nine overs Belton were 52 for two. One over later they had slumped to 59 for five.

Roy Tilley was the arch destroyer, taking four of the wickets.

Belling then led a fight back for Belton and scored steadily to help his side to an 18-over total of 107-6.

In reply, Billingborough got off to a storming start, clubbing their way to 10 runs an over early on. After half their allotted 18 overs the holders were in a very strong position at 64 without loss.

Then Belton brought on the spinners and all changed. Michael Musson was dismissed in the 16th over for 61 and the Belton attack restricted Billingborough to just 14 runs from the last five overs, with Oates taking three wickets.

The holders ended the first night 18 runs ahead, having scored 125 for 5.

There was a good crowd to witness the dramatic second night conclusion. Belton opted to field and were soon celebrating the early departure of danger man Michael Musson for 7, followed shortly after by Stewart Gollop for 12.

Up stepped David Gollop to hit a fine 46 before being run out, as Billingborough scored 105 for five, leaving Belton a target of 124 for victory.

After an early setback, David Richardson (28) and Andrew Pearl (20) gave Belton some hope but excellent bowling from Godby and Tilley, who took two wickets apiece, and Gollop, who claimed three victims, left the Belton tail end too much to do.

Belton skipper Abeysekra did give Billingborough a nervous moment when he hit a huge six but Billingborough held on to win by just four runs.

*Pattinson Cup 2006 awards: highest individual score - Chris Morley with 85; highest team score - Timberland with 216; final man of the match - Roy Tilley.

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