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Gladiators face battle to keep dreams alive

Another untidy showing left Gloucestershire with mountains of work to do if they are to sample the riches of the Twenty20 Champions League.

Northamptonshire's ability to bowl full and straight proved key to defending 162 for five, a skill the men from Nevil Road would do well to develop over the coming fortnight.

Two defeats and a tie leave the Gladiators one from bottom of the Mid/West/Wales Division, with yesterday's marginally improved bowling display the only positive to take.

Craig Spearman has yet to fire in the competition, and he was bowled for eight by Johann Louw attempting a leg glance.
Johannes van der Wath proved more expensive with the new ball, but took out his frustrations on Chris Taylor (7) by cleaning him up through the gate in the fifth over.

The hosts were already in peril at 43 for three when Hamish Marshall was trapped leg before by Andrew Hall for 25, so could have done without Alex Gidman perishing to spinner Jason Brown in the same manner for a golden duck.
Mark Hardinges had been the pick of the Gladiators' bowlers with one for 18, and he looked confident in smashing a maximum over bowler Nicky Boje's head.

He added 46 with North before attempting to pull a Lance Klusener delivery that was too full and lost his off stump.
So much now rested on the Australian, who was furious to be bowled by Klusener after treating the crowd to some classy strokes.

Thereafter it was a procession, Ian Fisher (10) and Jon Lewis (4) both falling to Louw after Steve Adshead (16) had become Hall's second victim.

Hall picked up his third scalp and the eighth bowled dismissal with the demise of Steve Kirby (0), completing the home side's misery.

The Steelbacks chose to bat first and managed an above-par total, thanks mainly to an unbeaten 43 from Riki Wessels and 41 from David Sales.

Paceman Kirby finally returned for the Gladiators after five weeks on the sidelines with a shoulder problem, while a Twenty20 Cup debut for Will Rudge meant no place for the shattered egos of Carl Greenidge or Anthony Ireland.

Kirby marked his return in spectacular fashion, bowling Niall O'Brien (1) in the second over on his way to that rarest of commodities in the competition a wicket maiden.

Lewis found it tougher to contain Rob White, who helped himself to 18 runs off the Gloucestershire skipper in the next over.
White looked a major threat to everyone's figures, but his innings was curtailed at 39 courtesy of a brilliant one-handed catch by Hardinges off his own bowling.

Hall has hurt Gloucestershire before with the bat, but Marshall's safe hands at long-off gave Fisher a deserved wicket and sent the South African packing for 25.

So it was left to Sales and Wessels to up the ante, and two sixes off Rudge in the 15th over signalled the former's intent.
The young seamer spilt blood for the cause, injuring a finger attempting a spectacular caught-and-bowled off Sales, but he got his revenge three balls later when he cleaned up the batsman for 41.

A rare off-day for Lewis (1-50) saw him ship 13 more runs in the penultimate over of the innings, though he did manage to remove van der Wath (2) via North's catch at mid-off.

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