East Anglian Premier League: Big day at both ends of the table as Swardeston take control of title race

Action from the Swardeston V Vauxhall Mallards cricket match. Peter Lambert batting for Swardeston m

Action from the Swardeston V Vauxhall Mallards cricket match. Peter Lambert batting for Swardeston misses the ball and was given out for LBW. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The picture at both ends of the East Anglian Premier League table became a lot clearer at the weekend on what was a mixed day for Norfolk teams.

Defending champions Swardeston turned in a formidable display to beat neighbours Vauxhall Mallards by 154 runs, a result that saw them move 42 points clear at the top.

A surprise home defeat for rivals Cambridge Granta at the hands of third from bottom Great Witchingham made it an even better day for the leaders, while it also completed the misery for Horsford following their basement battle defeat at the hands of Burwell.

Ryan Findlay's team lost a crucial game at Manor Park and now find themselves 31 points adrift at the foot of the table with seven matches left to play.

Swardeston's batsmen shone in the glorious sunshine at The Common, with skipper Mark Thomas able to declare after 61 overs with his side on 319-4. Peter Lambert set the ball rolling with 49 but the real damage was done by a third wicket partnership of 176 between Stephen Gray (115) and Joe Gatting (76).

A late flurry of boundaries from Lewis Denmark and Freddie Ruffell took the hosts speeding past 300 to set up the early finish, leaving Mallards needing to score at over five an over to secure an unlikely win.

To be fair the runs came quickly – but wickets also fell at regular intervals and they were dismissed in the 42nd over for 165, with Luke Caswell making 41 and George Walker taking 4-21.

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Over at Clare College the batsmen of Cambridge Granta were being made to toil by the tight bowling of the Witches, who conceded a mere eight boundaries in their 64 overs. The hosts lost just six wickets but could only reach 203, with Charlie Rogers and Brenton McDonald each claiming two victims.

In reply Witchingham cruised home in the 53rd over for the loss of just openers James Spelman and Sam Arthurton, thanks to an unbroken third wicket stand of 104 between James Hale (90no) and Jonathan Spelman (60no).

Horsford appeared to be in a strong position after reducing fellow strugglers Burwell to 87-6 but a seventh wicket partnership of 125 between Richard Potter (107) and Andrew Bramley (60) then changed the whole complexion of the match, with the visitors able to get all the way up to 253. In reply the home run rate was excellent but wickets soon began to tumble, with the stumping of big-hitting Stephan Marillier for 45 a real body blow.

There was no shortage of fight from Horsford down the order, epitomised by Robbie Brigstock's half century, but it was all to no avail as they were bowled out for 217 to fall 35 runs short. They now desperately need a positive result on Saturday when they visit Walcis Park to take on Great Witchingham.

Norwich maintained their solid campaign by recording a 50-run win over Copdock and Ipswichian at Ingham. Their total of 219-9, built around opener Oli Higenbottam's 77, proved to be more than enough, with Will O'Donnell taking 3-24 in reply and Dom Mirner and Sean McCabe also weighing in with a couple of wickets.

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