Read the reports from both clubs below...
Stirlands v Findon
After a disappointing display at Goring, Stirlands cemented themselves in the top half with a win over Findon.
The home side won the toss and surprisingly invited Findon to make first use of an excellent batting track. George Coles and Jamaine Bullen bowled excellent lines, Coles sneaking one through the defences of Harry Metters to take the first wicket.
Coles picked up a further wicket, Jamie Lewis caught and bowled for 16, and George Briance bowled Bradley Bridson for 20.
Leo Wilkinson-Beal came on as a spin partner for Briance and Bullen picked up his first victim, James Bellamy caught by Ned Renwick for 11.
The vastly-experienced Raj Maru can always be relied upon to make something happen and a top-edge sweep from Simon Legge was brilliantly held by debutant Dan McKitterick at deep square leg for six.
Then 88-5 became 99-6 as captain Coles inspired a further breakthrough, bringing Will Gubbins’ off spin into the attack, bowling Jabe Rogers with one that flicked the off bail.
Glenn Bridson and Curtis Howell were undergoing trial by spin but patiently added 60 crucial runs for the seventh wicket.
Bridson was out for a well-played 66, lofting Maru to long-on where Alex Brazier took a good tumbling catch.
Maru picked up Alex Norman, caught at deep mid-wicket by Wilkinson-Beal to give Stirlands their eighth wicket and six bowling points, and Findon finished 178-8.
The pick of the bowlers were Coles (2-20) and Maru (3-42). The Stirlands reply started disastrously as George Briance was caught by Rogers for 0 attempting to pull a short ball from Howell.
Coles looked to rebuild with Gubbins, but Gubbins was well caught by Bridson at slip for 17 off Norman.
Torquil Deacon didn’t last long as he was adjudged lbw to Norman for three.
Now the hosts were struggling and Findon were looking to pounce. Bullen hasn’t had too many chances to bat this year but now was the time to show his mettle.
Counter attack was the course set by the home skipper as he and Bullen stroked the bad balls to the fence and ran aggressively.
Coles drove the ball hard and straight with aplomb, repeatedly clearing the infield, while Bullen jumped on anything a fraction short with thunderous pull shots.
A new ball was required as Bullen hit Legge over the hedge and into the graveyard, a monstrous hit. Coles and Bullen cantered home and the winning shot was a Bullen pull for six over deep backward square.
Coles finished 85 not out, plundering 14 fours, while Bullen’s 70 not out, his first half-century for Stirlands, contained seven fours and two sixes. Stirlands travel to a much-improved Hastings second XI this week.
Chichester v Burgess Hill
Chichester had to be content with a draw as they gave up top spot – but it’s all to play for at the top.
Burgess Hill arrived knowing they always seem to do well against the hosts. Chichester captain Matt Geffen won the toss and invited the visitors to bat.
The decision appeared a good one with Geffen claiming the early wicket of Tom Penfold with just six on the board.
Burgess Hill’s overseas batsman Kevin Ramsay had other ideas. The West Indian played fluently and aggressively and found able support from Tom Trowbridge (24) and Karl Boffey (23).
At 157-3 on a flat pitch and sunny day, a huge total appeared on the cards. Ramsay’s wicket proved to be crucial, Geffen trapping him LBW for 78.
From that point, Hill’s innings began to peter out in the face of controlled seam bowling, with Geffen and Dan Joseph claiming three wickets each. The visitors were dismissed for 226 in the 52nd over.
The reply began poorly for Chichester as two wickets fell with just 12 runs on the board. It didn’t get a lot better from that point either as a mixture of poor shot selection, decent bowling and excellent catching from Burgess Hill saw the host languishing on 66 for seven in the 16th over.
A heavy defeat appeared on the cards but Chichester’s lower order proved difficult to remove. Abz Patel and wicketkeeper George Perry batted together for nearly 30 overs and began to haul Chichester back into the game.
Perry eventually fell for 26 with the score on 159 for eight but Patel (78 not out) and Geffen saw out the last few overs out and Chichester closed on 186 for eight to claim a draw.
It was a day of draws in the division as only Crawley Eagles won. That result sees Chichester down to second place. There’s still plenty of games to play, though, starting on Saturday away to Roffey twos.
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