Gloucestershire Under 12s missed out on winning the Taunton Festival by a single point after failing to bowl Devon out on the final day.
The side finished runners-up to Lancashire despite a superb week that saw them lose just once – to the eventual champions.
Glos won three of their five matches but came up agonisingly short of taking home the title as Devon dug in to secure a draw.
They began the festival in fine style with a 17 run win over St Sithians College from South Africa. Losing the toss and batting first, Max Richards (86) (Winterbourne) Freddie Sharp (45) (Dumbleton) and Morgan Barnes (40) (Clifton College) all played well to help Glos to a total of 232-9 from their 50 overs.
In response St Stithians started steadily but the introduction of spin turned things Glos’ way as the school-side slipped to 64-4. Max Dunne (Frocester) was particularly impressive, picking up the first four wickets in an excellent unchanged spell of 10 overs, 4 maidens, 4-27.
With the dangerous Karlsson still at the crease St Stithians fought back and looked on course to chase down their target until the Glos seamers began to build pressure. A wicket for William Merrett (2-45) (Lechlade) and a couple for James O’Brien (3-31) (Dumbleton) slowed their opponents down and put the match in the balance at 207-8. Merrett then turned tide in Glos’ favour by dismissing Karlsson for 92 before O’Brien got the last wicket to secure a 17 run win and maximum points.
In their second match Glos thrashed Hampshire by 8 wickets thanks to a devastating opening spell by Ethan Corbett (Dumbleton). He blew away the top order, reducing Hants to 5-3. Thomas-Williams (27) and Kelly (22) offered some resistance in the middle order before spinners Dunne (3-24) and Lysander Tarrant (Bourton Vale) (2-27) combined to make it 96-8. Corbett returned to finish the job, taking the final two wickets to finish with 5-17 as Hampshire closed on 109 all out off 33.1 overs. In reply, Glos lost just two wickets as Richards carried his bat for a well-constructed 39 not out.
Glos kept up their winning streak with an emphatic 114 run victory over local rivals Somerset in game three. Richards continued his fine form with 98 and with Ottie Landale (79) (Cirencester) and Barnes (46*) also in the runs Glos amassed a huge total of 329-4. In reply Somerset made 215 but with a top score of 31 they never threatened to win the match. Wickets were shared around with Luke Hope (3-19) (Great Rissington), Tarrant (3-40) and O’Brien (2-21) all contributing.
The fourth match brought Glos’ only defeat of the week, a six wicket loss to eventual champions Lancashire. Batting first Glos were bowled out for 151, James Austen (Frocester) top scoring with 60. In response, Corbett made an early breakthrough but his side were undone by a brilliant unbeaten 85 from opener Fonseka who saw his side home in the 34th over for the loss of four wickets.
The defeat meant Glos went into the final match of the tournament v Devon just three points behind Lancashire.
Despite good innings from Gus Roberts (29) (Aston Ingham) and Landale (35) Glos fell six runs short of the 150 they needed for maximum batting points. However they were given hope by reports that Lancashire were struggling against Hants.
Devon began their reply in confident fashion Devon and looked untroubled until a run out by Freddie Collinson (Gloucester City Winget) got the breakthrough with the score on 80. This sparked a collapse which saw seven wickets fall for 39 runs. There were two more run outs, a wicket for Corbett and 3-11 for Dunne as Glos turned the game on its head. With Lancs faltering Glos were left needing one more wicket to win the festival. But it was not to be as the Devon batsman clung on resolutely to finish on 121-7 leaving Glos with a winning draw that left them a point behind Lancashire.