Sudbury and Frinton both win in chase for EAPL title, while Copdock beat Bury
On a day of relatively low-scoring, the top three teams vying for the Read Brothers Ltd East Anglian Premier League title all tasted victory.
Defending champions Sudbury and league leaders Frinton-on-Sea both triumphed, as did second-placed Swardeston, while over at the Victory Ground there was a win for Copdock & Old Ipswichian over Bury St Edmunds in the Suffolk derby.
SUDBURY, the 2017 and 2018 champions, were always the red-hot favourites to defeat Vauxhall Mallards, who have already announced that they will be folding as a club at the end of the season.
In a match shortened by rain, at Halvergate, Mallards were quickly reduced to 67 for six and then struggled to 103 for six off 38 overs at lunch.
Jonathan Dalton made 44 before he was the sixth wicket to fall, but Adam Todd held up Sudbury's attack with a patient 35 not out off 75 balls.
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The rain arrived during the luncheon interval, causing a three-hour delay, which meant that Mallards were left with just one over (final total of 113 for six), leaving Sudbury 34 overs to reach their target.
This they did in rapid fashion, breezing to victory by eight wickets inside 15 overs, inspired by the experienced Huggins, who played aggressively for his unbeaten 54 off 42 balls, with three sixes and five fours.
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Although the visitors lost the early wicket of skipper Adam Mansfield, the pair of Huggins and Darren Batch (19) added 67.
Ryan Vickery then raced to 28 not out off 14 balls, with all his runs coming by way of boundaries (seven of them).
"This was an important win for us," explained Batch, Sudbury's overall club captain.
"The match against Mallards earlier in the season had been rained off, which was unfortunate, so we badly needed this one to reach a conclusion.
"After the frustrating rain delay, we needed 114 off 34 overs, but there were dark clouds looming and so Tom (Huggins) decided to try and get the runs as quickly as possible, to beat the rain.
"That's what he did, and Ryan (Vickery) was later allowed to play freely, which is his natural game, getting all his runs in boundaries.
"It seems to be a three-horse race for the title, and we all still have to play each other again, so those matches could be key," added Batch.
Pace-setters FRINTON, meanwhile, skittled out Burwell & Exning for just 77 off 33.1 overs, thanks mainly to some superb bowling from Dulanjala Mendis, the Sri Lankan slow left-arm orthodox spinner, who took five for 19 off 8.3 overs.
Skipper Michael Comber led the way by bowling both openers, Chris Summerskill (1) and skipper Joseph Tetley (2), to leave Burwell on four for two - they had actually won the toss and opted to bat.
Andrew Bramley (34) and Tim Catley (14) were the only batsmen to reach double figures, putting on 24 for the third wicket which ended up being the biggest partnership of the innings. Burwell were all out before lunch.
Frinton lost opener Michael Griggs early on (second ball of the innings), trapped leg before by Sam Rippington (7-0-30-3), who also dismissed Jaik Mickleburgh (25) and Kyran Young (13).
But Andrew Wheater (16no) and Tom Sinclair (19no) saw Frinton home with seven wickets in hand off just 14 overs.
After 14 of the scheduled 22 fixtures, Frinton have a 17-point lead over second-placed Swardeston and are 28 points clear of Sudbury.
Former multi-champions Swardeston, who won the EAPL title for five years between 2012 and 2016, are hoping to regain their crown this summer, and they edged to a narrow eight-run win over MILDENHALL at Wamil Way.
Mildenhall certainly had their chances to win this game, after reducing their opponents to 84 for six in difficult batting conditions.
Tom Rash removed opener Jordan Taylor (2) on the last ball of the first over of the innings, and Alex Cruickshank had Lewis Denmark (0) caught off the next ball, his first of the match, to leave Swardeston on two for two.
Captain Joe Gatting (40) and Stephen Gray (13) added 63 for the third wicket, but it was No. 8 Alfie Cooper who was to later hold up the Suffolk side with 65 off 76 deliveries.
Cooper put on 57 for the seventh wicket with Callum Taylor (25) and then 44 for the eighth wicket with Matthew Taylor to allow Swardeston to reach a final total of 195 all out off 60.1 overs.
Once again, Ankit Sharma was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 13.1.-3-46-2.
Joe Reed struck 40 at the top of the innings, but he lacked support as Mildenhall slipped to 75 for five in their reply.
Matt Allen (46) and skipper Rash (51) put the hosts in the driving seat with a 75-run stand for the sixth wicket, before Allen was bowled by Gatting to leave the score on 150 for six.
It looked a tough ask when that became 166 for nine, but Rash and No. 11 Murtaza Hussain put on 21 for the last wicket before Rash was run out to secure another tight win for Swardeston.
Runs were hard to come by at the Victory Ground, where visiting Copdock & OI were bowled out for just 135 off 58.3 overs.
A remarkable spell of bowling from Sean Cooper (final figures of 17-4-42-4) reduced Copdock to five for three, and then 22 for five, until a key contribution from skipper Chris Swallow (a patient 46 off 134 balls) aided by support from Sam Webb-Snowling (26no) and No. 11 Jason Pembroke (13 off 54 balls) saw Copdock edge up to 135.
Bury then faltered badly in their reply to suffer a defeat by 39 runs, being all out for 96 at the start of the 43rd over.
Australian all-rounder Cameron Valente made the early inroads, taking the first four wickets (12-6-19-4) before Swallow cleaned up the tail (7.1-0-16-4).
No Bury batsman reached 20 as Copdock moved up from ninth to fifth in the table, leapfrogging Great Witchingham, Mildenhall, Bury and Burwell & Exning in the process.