Norfolk warmed up for the new season - if that's the right phrase - by giving a good account of themselves in a high-scoring friendly against Essex Seconds at Broxbourne on Saturday.

Both sides shrugged off the chilly conditions to serve up an entertaining 50 over a side match which featured four excellent knocks and ended in a 54-run victory for the hosts.

After being asked to bat first Essex's Paul Walter and Aaron Beard put on 178 for the first wicket before Beard was caught off the bowling of Ryan Finday for 78.

Walter carried on to make a magnificent 178 featuring 20 fours and six sixes, with his knock coming to an end when he was stumped by Tom New off skipper Ashley Watson.

Thanks largely to their openers, who both have First Class experience, Essex made a daunting 342-4 in their 50 overs, with youngster Callum Metcalf the most economical Norfolk bowler, going at just over five runs an over and taking 1-41.

Scoring at a rate of nearly seven an over was always going to be a tall order for Watson's men but they give it a good go, with Matt Plater and Stephan Mariller playing the starring roles.

Given a chance to open the innings with the established Sam Arthurton, Plater scored 96 in 98 balls, with 11 fours and three sixes, while Marillier at five cracked 109 in just 88 deliveries, with 11 fours and six sixes, as the visitors scored at a good rate.

But sadly for them the next highest score was the 18 made by New before taking a nasty blow on the finger and retiring as a precaution with the league season getting under way next weekend. Norfolk finished on 288-7, with Beard completing a good day by taking 4-31.

'It was a very useful exercise and I thought we did well against a good side, especially bearing in mind it was our first game outdoors and they had already had quite a few,' said Watson. 'I don't think I have ever seen Matt play as well as that while it was also a great knock from Stephan - if anything I think he hit the ball even more cleanly than their opener who scored the big 100.'

The competitive season gets under way on Sunday, May 5 with a 50 overs a side game against Suffolk at Manor Park in the first round of the MCCA Unicorns Minor Counties Championship.