Swardeston can seal a fifth successive East Anglian Premier League title next weekend after securing a hard-fought derby win over Great Witchingham on Saturday.
The defending champions moved 70 points clear at the top of the table with just three matches left to play courtesy of a 25-run victory over their relegation threatened visitors.
An innings of exactly 100 from youngster Jason Reynolds was the highlight as Swardeston stretched their lead over second placed Cambridge Granta, who had to settle for a draw in a real thriller against Norwich.
It all means that Mark Thomas’ side will clinch another title with two games to spare if they beat Horsford, another team battling to avoid the drop, at Manor Park next weekend – or if Granta fail to win at Bury St Edmunds.
The leaders’ total of 291-8 was built around excellent partnerships for the fifth and six wickets after they had slipped to 75-4. Joe Gatting (62) and Reynolds got the innings firmly back on track by putting on 100 and then Reynolds and Matthew Taylor (62) added a further 86.
Chasing nearly 300 was a big ask for the Witches but they went on to give the opposition plenty to think about, thanks largely to James Hale, who made an excellent 106. The visitors kept battling to the end but were eventually all out for 266, with Taylor completing an excellent all-round contribution by taking 5-51 and Gatting weighing in with 4-50.
Granta’s outside title hopes all but disappeared when they drew with Norwich in a match where all four results were a possibility going into the closing stages. The Cambridge outfit posted a solid 235-5 (Jonathan Atkinson 98 not out), a total that proved just beyond their visitors who finished on 231-9. Will Rogers led the brave challenge, with Norwich’s hopes of victory ending when he was run out for 76.
While the situation at the top of the table is pretty much cut and dried it is anything but at the bottom as Horsford moved off the bottom and to within four points of Witchingham by securing their second successive 30 point haul. In a game at Frinton which was dominated by the ball they successfully defended a modest total of just 166, getting home by 35 runs thanks largely to the efforts of Tim Alexander (5-37) and Ben France (3-36). Earlier in the day Callum Metcalf had played an important innings of 33 to help the visitors up to a defendable total.
The win took Horsford 14 points above Woolpit, who drew against Copdock, with that crunch game against Swardeston, a side they beat at The Common earlier in the season, to look forward to next.
Vauxhall Mallards suffered a six wicket defeat at the hands of Bury that went a long way towards securing the Suffolk side’s place amongst East Anglian’s elite for another season. An unbroken ninth wicket partnership of 60 between Hudson de Lucchi and Paul Bradshaw helped Mallards up to 202-8 after Devon Conway (60) and Mitchell Todd (45) had shone early on – but it was not nearly enough. Bury got home with something to spare in the end as Daron Cruickshank turned on the style, finishing on 128 not out in a total of 206-4.