BILLERICAY and Leigh-on-Sea both lost ground at the top of the division, with next Saturday’s clash between the two sides set to be a blockbuster.

Billericay were beaten by a fairly comfortable 72 runs in the end by Fives & Heronians, although it looked set to be a good day after a strong start by the visitors.

Two quick wickets from Greg Hammond left Fives on 1-2 but the next four batsmen scored impressively to take the game away from Billericay.

Mick Perry was the pick of the batters, falling only three runs short of a century. Kishen Patel (44), Gary Norris (40) and Jake Poulter (33) provided decent support to take the hosts onto 255 all out.

And Billericay captain Stewart Rutland had a good day with the ball, claiming six wickets for 71 runs.

Billericay came into bat and it was an innings that never sparked into life. Until number 11 batsman Philip Reynolds came to the crease, no batter scored more than 30.

Reynolds hit 31 with number 10 Rob Lee striking 24 and only one other batsman (Andy Smith – 30) made it into the thirties.

Skipper Rutland said he had not given up on promotion yet, although admitted next week’s match against rivals Leigh-on- Sea was a must win.

“There are still about 50 points to play for,” said Rutland.

“There is no doubt it will be hard to get promotion as we are looking for favours from other teams but if we win our matches we are setting them a challenge.

“We want to take it to the last Saturday of the season. Fair play to Fives & Heronians as they batted well and we were restricted to an average total.

“When your best partnership comes from the final two then you know the top and middle of the order hasn’t done enough.

“We will have to be at our best against Leigh to come away with a win but we knowwe can do it.”

Leigh meanwhile shared the points with Belhus after their match was affected by rain.

Dean Waller’s side won the toss and batted first, reaching 218-8 before declaring.

Joe Sexton top-scored with 33, with Stu Elliott, Harry Slack, (both 25) Dean Waller (28) and Ian McDonald (26) providing back-up.

Belhus reached 140-1 in their reply, but with 20 overs remaining the rain came. Forty minutes later the umpire gave Belhus six overs to reach the target and, despite a valiant effort, they fell just short, reaching 205-3.

Horndon-on-the-Hill are still one win away from safety after they were beaten by the champions Hornchurch.

Reaching 194 from their 50 overs Horndon had looked impressive in aspects of their batting.

However Hornchurch, who will go up as winners of division two, were not to be stopped and charged to 195-4 in 40 overs.

Murray struck 102 and Horndon must now hope to secure their division two status next weekend.

Westcliff-on-Sea claimed some long-overdue points after another rain-affected match, this time at Orsett.

Put into bat first, Westcliff, who only had ten men, ran up the scorecard, with Adam Pickering the pick of the batsmen, reaching 91, with Gareth Bull next best on 34.

In reply, Orsett were indebted to Ryan Plom (120) and Scott Douglas (46) as they reached 230- 7 from 30 overs but Westcliff are already planning for next year in division three after only a year back in division two.