NEYLAND and Lawrenny are already looking like title contenders in the Pembroke County League - and there was little to choose between the two sides in their thrilling National Village Cup showdown on Sunday.

Ross Hardy smashed 97 runs as Neyland posted a challenging 204 for 9, before hosts Lawrenny, with an unbeaten century from Ryan Morton, got agnonisingly close - only to finish 6 runs short on 198 for 7.

In a titanic battle, Neyland went into bat first and opener Nic Koomen made 31, but wickets fell as front order batsmen George Evans, Henry Durrant and Brad McDermott departed for just 2 runs each.

Ross Hardy came in at five, however, and hit seven fours and five sixes to make a hard-hitting 97 - only to fall just short of a deserved century when Matthew Kidney held his nerve to take a good boundary catch.

Crucial support was provided by Gregg Millar (13), Andrew Millar (10) and Sean Hannon, batting at eight, who hit 16 to help take Neyland beyond the 200 mark for a defendable total.

The Lewis brothers were Neyland's chief tormentors, taking seven wickets between them, with Jamie returning 4-17, and Matthew 3-47.

In reply, Lawrenny lost opener Kyle Marsh for a duck in the first over, given lbw off Neyland skipper Sean Hannon, but fellow opener Kurtis Marsh made 29 and Joe Kidney 22 to steady the ship.

Then, to mirror Neyland's innings, there was some big hitting done in the middle order as Ryan Morton (100no) hammered eight sixes and six fours in his magnificent undefeated century.

Wickets fell at the other end, however, as only James Buckley made an impact with two sixes in his 17 runs off 13 balls, before being run out by Sean Hannon in the pursuit of late runs.

Neyland held out, with 16-year-old pace bowler Jack John (1-24) taking responsibility in the final over to help reduce Lawrenny to 198-7. Earlier Brad Mcdermott had claimed 3 for 25.

Both teams had five first team players out, but if their title race is as close as this we could be in for a thrilling race for the league title.

Next up for Neyland is Whitland in the league on Saturday, June 5, whilst Lawrenny go to high flying Haverfordwest on the same day. The two big guns will face off in the league on June 19.

They also meet in the quarter-finals of the Harrison Allen Bowl on June 24 -  and it's already looking like the battle for honours at the season's end is going to be epic this summer.