Hales brother star as Sprowston claim an impressive win
- Credit: Archant Norfolk
Sprowston cruised to a 101-run victory over defending champions Downham on Saturday to boost their own Premier Division title challenge.
Last season Sprowston slipped well off the pace as Downham clinched the silverware, but it has been a very different story this time around with the two sides seemingly moving in opposite directions. Town had home advantage at the weekend but could make nothing of it as they slid to 155 chasing an impressive total of 256-8.
Brothers Sam and Tim Hales led the way for Sprowston with scores of 62 not out and 57 respectively. Downham's overseas star Nick Kelly, who had earlier taken 3-55, then led a his team's recovery from 52-4 in the company of skipper Duncan Lanchester, but when he went for 64 the remaining wickets tumbled quickly, with Rob Purton taking 3-9.
It was a fourth defeat of the season for Downham, who appear marooned in mid-table, while Sprowston are now second, just eight points behind Fakenham.
The leaders maintained their challenge as they passed Cromer's total of 199 for the loss of just three wickets. Chad Bowes scored for Fakenham 70 after Yin Lo had taken 6-25 while Richard Charlwood made 115 for Cromer.
Old Buckenham are now third after an exciting two-wicket derby win over Diss, for whom an all out total of 164 wasn't quite enough.
Brooke, who were setting the pace a few weeks ago, had to settle for a hard-fought draw against fellow promoted side Stow.
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The West Norfolk outfit could only make 181-8 but it proved too big a target for their visitors, who were hanging on at 169-9 at the end.
The top two in Division One both recorded emphatic wins to strengthen their positions.
Leaders North Runcton barely put a foot wrong at Beccles, dismissing the home side for 155 and then getting home without the loss of a single wicket, with Mark Skipper finishing on exactly 100.
It was equally one-sided at Acle, despite the best efforts of young spinner Rivers King who took 8-75 as Lowestoft Town reached 237 before the hosts were dismissed for just 116.
Runcton have a 14-point lead, while Garboldisham are now third – 25 points behind Lowestoft – after edging to a one-wicket win over Horsford A at Manor Park, with Kristian Williman scoring an unbeaten 80 and Robert Fuller taking 5-63.
Martham reached 300 for the second time this season – but it still wasn't enough to clinch victory against a dogged Swardeston CEYMS outfit.
The Division Five leaders lost just two wickets in making exactly 300, with Ian Fairbrother (138) and Jack Whatmough (132) both scoring centuries.
But the visitors refused to roll over and had battled their way to 160-9 (Whatmough 4-38) when stumps were drawn.
There must have been a feeling of deja-vu for Martham, who had been held to a similarly frustrating draw by Hethersett and Tas Valley A in early June after making 354-7.
Up in Division Two there appears to be no stopping Norwich A and Hethersett and Tas Valley, who both won again to consolidate their place in the promotion positions. Norwich could only make 151 against Thetford, but their bowlers ensured it was just enough as they dismissed the visitors for 135. Valley had a derby match to contend with against Great Melton and came through it in impressive fashion, overhauling Melton's total of 175 for the loss of five wickets.
Ben Smart scored a superb unbeaten 136 for Saham Toney – but still finished up on the losing side against Old Buckenham A.
Swaffham made it seven wins out of nine in Division Three as they finished on 175-6 in reply to Great Melton A's 174. Jasper Payne continued his season to remember by following up his unbeaten 75 with figures of 5-42.
Division Four leaders Winterton were back to their best after their surprise defeat the previous week as they skittled Stow A out for just 76 (David Crane 4-22) before completing an eight wicket victory. They lead the way by 12 points while Bircham have a five-point advantage in Division Six.