EAPL preview: Reigning champions Swardeston set for tricky season-opener

Swardeston celebrate winning the 2015 EAPL title.

Swardeston celebrate winning the 2015 EAPL title. - Credit: Archant

Sports reporter David Freezer casts his eye over the East Anglian Premier League as the area's elite players prepare to get the new campaign under way tomorrow.

The pack resumes its chase of Swardeston in the East Anglian Premier League tomorrow, as the dominant reigning champions begin their pursuit of what would be a remarkable fifth successive title success.

The south Norfolk villagers became the first club to win four EAPL titles on the bounce last season – and the first club to win the division on six occasions.

Cambridge Granta pose the first challenge of the season to skipper Mark Thomas and his team-mates when they arrive at The Common.

Granta finished third in the table last team and were the only side to do the double over Swardeston, winning with nine wickets to spare at home and by 39 runs in Norfolk.

The nearest challengers for the coveted crown last season, Frinton-on-Sea, who finished just eight points further back, begin with a home game against newly-promoted Sudbury, who beat Godmanchester Town in the play-off final.

The first Norfolk derby of the season comes at Manor Park, where Horsford take on Vauxhall Mallards.

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The hosts will be looking to carry on from where they left off, having convincingly won their last two matches of the 2015 season thanks to dominant bowling displays.

An inconsistent season saw Horsford end up in seventh position but Mallards enjoyed a positive campaign, forcing their way into the title race but ultimately finishing 20 points short in fourth place after a four-wicket defeat at Frinton on the final day.

Great Witchingham and Norwich also start their campaigns at home on a busy opening weekend, ahead of the start of the Norfolk Alliance next Saturday.

The Witches host Bury St Edmunds, who shared mid-table safety with them last season. James Spelman and his team-mates will be looking to build on a bright finish to last year when they won three of their last four matches to claim sixth place in the final standings.

They had the edge over the Suffolk side last year, winning with seven wickets to spare at Bury and claiming a winning draw at Walcis Park later in the season.

Norwich kick-off against Woolpit at Postwick, as both teams look to put last year's difficulties behind them.

Woolpit finished second from bottom and just two points above relegated Saffron Walden. Ashley Watson and his team were only one place higher in the final standings but had 29 points more in the bank.

The hosts will also be looking to avenge a disappointing home loss to their Suffolk opponents on the final day of the previous campaign, losing by 125 runs.

Instead, Norwich will be looking to replicate their better showing at Woolpit earlier in the year, when they were victorious with 27 runs to spare.

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