EAPL round-up: Swardeston keep pressure on leaders Sudbury with impressive away win

Chris Howes batting for Old Buckenham during Saturday's Norfolk Alliance Premier Division clash with

Chris Howes batting for Old Buckenham during Saturday's Norfolk Alliance Premier Division clash with Fakenham, which ended up being abandoned. Picture: Sonya Duncan - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The battle for the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League title is shaping up to be a real thriller, with just seven points separating the two leading contenders with eight matches left to play.

Sudbury and Swardeston, who were playing within 14 miles of each other at the weekend, both recorded comfortable away wins to maintain their positions of strength.

The Suffolk side still lead the way after seeing off Norwich by five wickets at Postwick while, down the road at Halvergate, champions Swardeston beat Vauxhall Mallards by the same margin to stay hot on their heels.

There is plenty of cricket to be played between now and the final day of the season, but there's already a decent chance that the encounter between the two main protagonists at Friars Street on September 16 will provide a thrilling conclusion to the campaign. After being put into bat by the leaders Norwich recovered from the depths of 15-3 to at least give their bowlers something to go at. Ashley Watson's side eventually got up to 165 in the 64th over, with Chris Borrett making 57 and a last wicket partnership of 36 between Jason Blake and Dom Mirner providing a late boost to the total.

It wasn't nearly enough, however, with Tom Huggins making 59 as Sudbury secured victory inside 47 overs.

Vauxhall Mallards set their visitors a stiffer target after reaching 216 before being dismissed.

Mitchell Todd was their star man with 81 while Norfolk allrounder Brett Stolworthy weighed in with a timely 38 in 34 balls down the order to give the innings some late impetus.

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Swardeston's impressive reply was built around two impressive partnerships as Jordan Taylor and Jason Reynolds put on 84 for the first wicket and Reynolds and Stephen Gray 102 for the second.

Taylor and Gray both fell one short of a half century while Reynolds went on to notch 84 in 121 balls with 10 fours and one six.

With heavy showers around Swardeston slipped from 186-1 to 209-5 as they chased a swift victory but there were no real alarms as they ended the contest in 46 overs.

The top two are both at home next Saturday, with Swardeston playing Norwich and Sudbury taking on Cambridge Granta. With third-placed Great Witchingham 33 points adrift of Swardeston it's starting to look like a two-horse race now, although the Witches and fourth placed Frinton – a further 21 points behind – might have something to say about that.

For only the second time this summer rain had a big effect on the EAPL programme, with the games involving Great Witchingham and Horsford both being curtailed by untimely downpours.

In each case an interesting game of cricket was ruined, with the results of both matches in the balance at the time a halt was called.

At Walcis Park visitors Frinton made 264 after being asked to bat first, with Suffolk pair Michael Comber (86) and Kyran Young (83) putting on 120 for second wicket to lay the foundation for a more than useful total. The Witches had reached 68-3 in 21 overs, with James Spelman going well on 36, when the rain arrived.

Over at Burwell Horsford battled their way to 192 in the 52nd over as Jay Ghelani returned the impressive figures of 5-25.

The visitors were grateful for a fourth wicket partnership of 85 between Stephan Marillier (56) and Robbie Bridgstock (55), with Oscar Binny's 25 the next highest score.

Chris Read then grabbed the wicket of opener Simon Donald for a duck – but only 19 balls were possible as the weather closed in.

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