RUGBY can almost smell another grand final spot after claiming first-innings points on day one of their match with Souths at No.3 Oval.
Holding top spot on the ladder by a slender margin and rebounding from a loss to RSL-Colts the previous week, Jordan Moran's men had plenty to play for and it showed as they systematically dismantled Souths.
Fielding first after Hornets skipper Matt Finlay won the toss and elected to bat Rugby started strong when Ben Taylor, arguably the form bowler of the Whitney Cup, took the wickets of Jack Wells and Finlay in consecutive balls to leave Souths 2/5 after just two overs.
Things didn't improve a great deal throughout the next 20 overs as Taylor, Al Horrocks and leg-spinner Adrian Carey terrorised the Souths batsmen to leave them 6/75 when Nathan Finlay was dismissed for 27 in the 21st over.
Shane Groen and James Duffy then combined for a solid stand, putting on 59 runs for the seventh wicket before Groen (50) fell to Carey just after reaching his half-century.
That wicket sparked a late collapse which saw the last three wickets fall for just five runs as Duffy (12no) ran out of partners and Souths were all out for 139 in just 38 overs.
Taylor finished with 4/31 from 14 overs while Carey managed 4/39 from his 11-over spell.
In reply Rugby openers Mitch Bower and Jordan Moran were cautious early, scoring just eight runs in the first five overs before they released the shackles.
Together they piled on 78 runs in 14 overs before Bower fell to Tim Berry for 21.
But the wicket didn't stop Moran. He kept plundering the hapless Souths attack until he was caught by Toby Morgan off the bowling of Matt Finlay for a classy 81.
Nathan Munro came and belted a six and two fours on his way to 14, and in the process pushed Rugby past Souths' total before Harry Kempston (7no) combined with Aidan Bennewith (41no) to see their side to stumps with the score on 3/170, a lead of 31 runs with seven wickets still in hand.
Tim Berry finished the day with figures of 1/40 from 11 overs for Souths while Finlay and Joel Johnston were the other wicket-takers.