Sims helps Swardeston increase their lead
Gibbs Denley EAPL: Richard Sims' first league century of the summer put Swardeston in command of the title race as they beat Sudbury by eight wickets on Saturday.
Swardeston were the only side among the top four to secure a positive result, and their win put them 31 points clear of nearest rivals Great Witchingham.
Swardeston chose to bowl first at The Common and Sudbury were progressing smoothly at 42 without loss when a four-wicket burst from Sam Thelwell gave the hosts the upper hand.
From 59 for four, Sudbury recovered with a fifth wicket stand of 58, but it was broken by spinner Jaden Hatwell, who went on to take three for 49.
There were also two wickets for fellow spinner George Walker as Sudbury were all out for 180, Wimanga Perera top scoring with 59.
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The Swardeston reply got off to a poor start when Joel Abraham was trapped lbw by Perera for one, but Daniel Martin (23) and Sims added 64 for the second wicket.
Hatwell then proved the perfect ally for Sims, who fired an unbeaten 122 from 106 balls, including nine fours and nine sixes – his sixth EAPL century. Hatwell finished unbeaten on 32 as Swardeston wrapped up victory in just the 32nd over.
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There was a thrilling finish at Clacton in a reduced-overs contest as Vauxhall Mallards fell two runs short of victory.
After a 1.15pm start, Mallards were left with a target of 153 from a minimum of 42 overs and in the final over they needed nine to win, with experienced duo Steve Goldsmith and Gerrie Snyman at the crease.
With five needed from three balls, Snyman was caught at long off and it fell to Goldsmith to try and hit a four from the final ball, but he could manage just two to long on as Mallards closed on 151 for six.
Richard Goodenough (51) and David Turner (48) were Mallards' top scorers.
Earlier, Snyman had taken four for 21 in the Clacton innings.
Horsford's dismal away form continued to hamper their chances of maintaining a title challenge as they lost by 64 runs at Halstead.
The hosts were put into bat and an opening stand of 38 was to prove important as, after the Horsford spinners were introduced, Halstead struggled.
Horsford skipper Chris Brown took five of the first six wickets to fall and Australian Reece O'Connell followed up with four victims. But the visitors could not dislodge Mark Johnson as he hit a decisive 48no in Halstead's 164 all out. Brown, pictured, finished with season's best figures of five for 17.
Horsford were soon in trouble as both openers were removed cheaply by Thomas Philp, before O'Connell (26) and Daniel Clark (24) put the visitors back on course. But from 61 for two, Horsford capitulated and Brown (18) was the only other batsman to reach double figures as they were all out for 100 in the 45th over.
A clatter of late wickets scuppered Great Witchingham's bid for victory at home to Saffron Walden.
Former England batsman Jason Gallian held Walden's innings together with a steady 81, and a brisk 41 from number nine Ryan Done swelled the final total to 222 for eight. Jonathan Spelman (three for 61) was the top bowler for the Witches.
James Hale opened the hosts' reply in the absence of Carl Rogers and responded with 49, while Tom Collishaw's 70 raised hopes of a home win.
Ryan McCone provided the impetus needed for a victory push, but he was the fifth man out on 190 and that quickly became 195 for nine as Witchingham ultimately had to battle for a draw.
There was another heavy defeat for Norwich, who stayed bottom of the table after a 208-run loss at home to champions Cambridge Granta.
Half-centuries from Alex Fullarton, Craig Park, Douglas Rice and Sean Park took the game away from Norwich after they had claimed a couple of early wickets, Granta finishing on 308 for nine. Aaron Watson claimed four for 69 for Norwich.
The hosts were soon in difficulty in their reply as Jason Coleman and James Cowan ripped through the top order to reduce them to 38 for six.
The departure of Harry Bush for 24 was the killer blow and although Chris Sutton top scored with 38no, Norwich were all out for 100, Coleman bagging five for 14.
Elsewhere, Bury St Edmunds kept Burwell stuck in the relegation picture with a 119-run success, skipper Justin Bishop firing 126 and Simon Rees hitting 53.