JOSEPH Ducker claimed a hat-trick to help Astley Bridge get off the mark in the Association with a resounding nine-wicket win at Little Hulton.

New-ball seamer Ducker helped bowl the hosts out for just 81 by taking 4-29 from eight overs, while Amal Dalugoda added 4-12 from five.

But it was Ducker’s triple strike in the seventh over which laid the platform for a first win after back-to-back league defeats to start the summer.

With the last three balls of the over, Ducker bowled Imran Butt, trapped Aasif Afinwala lbw and had Shujah Ashraf caught at slip by Yasir Rashid, leaving the score at 20-4.

There was brief middle-order resistance from Tasib Raja and Irfanbahi Patel, who both made 20 and shared 48. But their task was too tall against a Bridge side who challenged for promotion last season.

“Joe bowled very well,” said captain and new-ball partner David Cryer. “His hat-trick was special.

“Amal also bowled well, and we were backed up in the field, in particular by Kai Hodgkiss and Millen Patel.”

Cryer, who lost the toss, was the only member of the four-man attack not to strike, with Rashid claiming the other two wickets. But he won’t mind. After all, the main thing was getting the victory.

“We’ve been struggling to take wickets and to take our chances. That’s why we’ve been losing,” he explained. “But Saturday was much better, and we showed everyone what we can do.

“We actually wanted to bat first, so it turned out to be a good toss to lose.

“We also did it without the pro (Denuwan Dadallage) contributing, and winning without needing Denny is the sign of a solid team. We are also missing Jack Bentham for a few weeks after he broke his thumb whilst trying to take a catch two weeks ago.”

Cryer saw his top order complete a routine chase inside 21 overs, for the loss of only wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Hargreaves for 11.

Hargreaves had earlier claimed two stumpings off Dalugoda.

Chris Lane top-scored with five boundaries in an unbeaten 44 and shared in partnerships of 34 for the first wicket with Hargreaves and 48 unbroken with second-wicket partner Soyab Taylor (23 not out).

Experienced Sri Lankan Dalugoda and Taylor are two ‘new’ recruits at Sharples Park for 2019.Dalugoda is back from a spell with Egerton in the GMCL, while Taylor has returned from Golborne.

Bridge finished third in last season’s Association and missed out on promotion by two points to Adlington.

Unfortunately, things haven’t gone their way at the start of this season.

They missed out on yesterday’s quarter-finals in the Peter Stafford Trophy, losing two of their three pool matches, with the other abandoned due to rain, and they are out of the Hamer Cup, having been beaten in the first round by Golborne last weekend.

But this victory over Little Hulton could have come in the nick of time as they look to mount a challenge for promotion.