THE sound of leather on willow rang out for the first time this year as the sun shone over the weekend, heralding the start of a new cricket season.

Usk 1sts, who will be playing in South Wales Premier 1 this year after winning promotion as SWP2 champions, took on Cardiff Metropolitan University at home in a warm-up friendly on Saturday, but were beaten by 122 runs.

The students set a 50-over target of 276-9 with Freddie Wolfenden taking 3-60 off his 10 overs and Ollie Rayner 3-65 off his 10.

Usk reached 44-1 in reply, but then lost two quick wickets without addition to the score before reaching 73-3, where wickets started tumbling with regularity, with the hosts losing five more for the addition of just 15 runs.

It was soon 101-9 and despite a rearguard 53-run stand between last man Matthew Williams (25) and Matt Hancock (26 not out), the game was up, with Usk all out for 154 in 40.4 overs.

Hugo Caldicott also notched 22, Tamar Zafar 21 and Oliver Robson 19, but no one could push onto a big score.

The two met again in a T20 match the following day, and while much closer, the students again prevailed, winning by four wickets with four balls to spare.

Opener Oliver Robson hit 45 for Usk in their 102-6, before the Met reached 105-6, with Matthew Williams and Ollie Rayner taking two wickets apiece.

This Saturday (April 27), Usk host Surrey outfit Stoke d'Abernon in a friendly, while Chepstow 1st XI visit Sudbrook.

On Sunday (April 28), Usk travel to Penydarren, with Chepstow hosting local rivals Undy & Magor.