HEREFORDSHIRE’s hopes of regaining the NCCA 50-over trophy they last won in 2016 ended with a 39-run quarter-final defeat against Wales at Port Talbot.

Herefordshire were in contention for most of the day but ultimately dropped catches and sloppy fielding cost them dear.

Wales made a flying start after winning the toss and choosing the bat with Herefordshire seamer James Rudge’s first two overs going for 30 runs amidst a flurry of boundaries and extras.

But the introduction of experienced all-rounder Dave Ball into the attack soon evened things up.

Ball (4-39) took three wickets cheaply in his first spell as he confused the home batsmen with subtle variations of pace.

Barney Morgan (2-47) also picked up a couple of wickets, although home batsman Connor Brown (85) stood firm.

Brown was eventually dismissed by a fine boundary catch by Connor Smith off skipper Matt Pardoe (2-22) as Wales were dismissed for 240.

In reply, Herefordshire lost the crucial wicket of Pardoe for just 11 and although his opening partner Smith played some good strokes in his 31, Herefordshire struggled to 72-4.

But Nick Hammond, whose 42 made him the top-scorer for the fourth time in Herefordshire’s five knock-out matches – in addition to a championship century – teamed up with Ball (35) to get the visitors back on track.

At 147-4, Herefordshire seemed well in contention, but Hammond miscued a drive to mid-on and when Ball was bowled by one which kept low shortly afterwards, the innings was again in trouble.

This time, there was to be no revival as the Herefordshire lower middle-order was swept away. Some powerful strokes by Rudge (31 not out) kept hopes up but ultimately Herefordshire were dismissed 39 short.

The county side are back in action on Thursday when they visit New Road to take on Worcestershire in a showcase friendly fixture, before heading to Shifnal on Sunday to take on Shropshire in the NCCA Championship.