Downham move 33 points clear at top of Norfolk Alliance Premier Division
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk Alliance Premier Division leaders Downham Town put some clear daylight between themselves and the chasing pack by reeling off a sixth straight win.
The defending champions, who are clearly the team to beat again this season, maintained their impressive form by seeing off Brooke by seven wickets after bowling out the 2016 winners for 227. Harrison Gregory (63 not out), Alex Stuart (49) and Jack Gould (45) all made useful contributions as the visitors got home in the 48th over, while Ali Shearer had earlier made the game's top score of 68.
The win saw Downham move 33 points ahead of nearest rivals Stow, who went down for the second weekend running, this time in a desperately tight game at Garboldisham. Chasing a home total of 200 Stow got close, but not quite close enough as they fell just three runs short, with the end coming off the second ball of the final over.
Last season's runners-up Cromer finally picked up their first league win of the season at the seventh attempt when they saw off Fakenham by six wickets. The visitors made a more than useful 232-9, with Luke Caswell's 55 the top score, but Michael Warnes' side then put in a good team effort to chase it down, with Frankie Sutton (48), Nat Laws (42) and Rob Purton (40) leading the way.
Old Buckenham also got off the mark after claiming victory in a keenly contested basement battle at Acle. Geoff Handley's 56 helped the hosts up to 192 but it was not quite enough as Rob Thurley's 67 helped the visitors edge home with two wickets in hand.
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Sprowston provided some evidence that better times might be just around the corner when they recorded an excellent win over morning leaders Horsford A in Division One. After being relegated last season Sprowston had also been struggling at a lower level but they produced an encouraging display to score 254-4 and dismiss their visitors for 229.
Sam Hales (63), Jon Leverett (57) and Sri Tenjaria (48 and 3-38) caught the eye in a surprise result which allowed an in-form Thetford side to take over at the top.
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After bowling out Beccles for 196, they maintained a sequence of emphatic wins by getting home for the loss of just two wickets, with the top three of Liam Conroy (78 not out), Neil Lockwood (50) and Ryan Conroy (34) again doing the business. Topcroft's Ben Baldwin (135) and Bradfield's Michael Seago (86 not out in 37 balls) both played superb knocks to help their sides to wins over Vauxhall Mallards A and Swardeston A respectively.
Jasper Payne played one of the knocks of the season so far to help Swaffham to the summit in Division Two.
The opener made a brilliant 153 as his side brushed aside bottom team Great Melton to move above morning leaders Mattishall, who were well beaten at Martham.
Payne made his runs in just 115 balls, with 14 fours and seven sixes, as Swaffham got up to 288-7 in their 45 overs, with Joe Lenderyou's 33 the next highest score. That was always going to be too much for Melton but at least they were still there at the end on 178-7 as Aaron Garner (43 not out) and Richard Waddell (46) provided some late resistance.
Martham were dominant in the section's game of the day at the Coronation Ground. They bowled out the leaders for just 159, with Harry Chanchalani and Will Oakley each taking three wickets, and then chased down the modest target for the loss of only three wickets, thanks largely to Brett Colclough's unbeaten 91.
Former Kent and Leicestershire paceman Robbie Joseph took 4-14 to help Ashmanhaugh and Barton Wanderers to victory over visitors Great Withcingham A. The visitors were bowled out for 123 chasing a total of 183-8 that featured a knock of 66 from skipper Jordan Everett.
Garboldisham A (231) cruised past bottom side Fakenham (132) to consolidate top spot in Division Three but closest challengers Bradenham kept the pressure on with an emphatic victory of their own.
Rob Ellis' unbeaten 90 was the cornerstone of their total of 254-5 against Brooke A, who were restricted to 152-9 in reply (Alex Bates 4-28).
There were again a pair of happy Gilmours as Division Four front runners Hockwold turned on the style. Euan (116) and Joel (90) put on 156 for the first wicket in their game against Stow A, who were bowled out of 122 chasing an imposing target of 299-6.
Hockwold are now 38 points clear at the top after second placed Hardingham lost to Hethersett and Tas Valley A by four wickets.
Josh Downes and James Fowle both made half centuries in a Hardingham total of 205-8 which was overhauled in the 42nd over as opener Ian Harrison made 91.
Cromer A beat Horsford B by four wickets after bowling them out for 155 to go marching on at the top of Division Five.