Exmouth put one hand on the Premier Division trophy when they beat North Devon by 86 runs on the Maer and another seven points this Saturday will give them their first Premier title for 15 years.
Second-placed Sidmouth have to beat Budleigh, take all 22 points and hope Exmouth get six or fewer at Oak Park.
Chris Metters (54) and Andy Buzza (51) both made half centuries as Exmouth recovered from a hesitant start – they were 36 for thee – to make 220 for eight.
Sandy Allen, skipper Richard Baggs and David Lye all went cheaply before Seb Benton (32) and Metters got a grip. Buzza and latterly Mark Orchard (20 not out) kept the scoreboard ticking over in the last 10 overs.
North Devon never really got out of the blocks – Trevor Anning (3-29) made sure of that – and once Craig Overton was fourth out at 66 there was only one likely outcome.
There were two wickets each for Toby Ingham (2-16) and Lawrence Greenway (2-27) as North Devon subsided to 134 all out.
North Devon’s last five wickets went down for 20 runs combined, not something that has happened too often to the Instow side this season.
Sidmouth did all they could to stay in touch with the leaders as they beat Bovey Tracey by 67 runs. Anthony Griffiths top scored with 89 not out off 113 balls as Sidmouth reached 239 for four in 45 overs then declared.
Bovey Tracey’s title aspirations ended when they were 67-run losers at Sidmouth. They were all out for 172 with five overs to go – Sidmouth paceman Josh Bess taking 3-43 to speed them on their way. Defeat drops Bovey from second to third where they trail Sidmouth by 11 points and Exmouth by 27 with 22 left on the table.
Budleigh, the 2006 Premier champions will return to the A Division for the first time since 2003 after their four run defeat by Exeter but Torquay beat Bradninch by three runs in a nail-biting game at the Recreation Ground to banish their relegation worries once and for all.
Matt Thompson’s impressive run of form continued with a top score of 70 as Torquay reached 217 for seven in 50 overs. Along the way there were stands of 75 for Thompson with Matt Hunt (27) and 49 with brother Joe (30).
Ross Acton (3-15) was the most effective of the Bradninch bowlers while Will Squire (4-57) topped the wicket-taking stakes. Bradninch, desperate for a win to get out of the bottom two before it is too late, had to go for the runs come what may.
After Jackson Thompson made a brisk 27 off 21 balls, Greg Maher (53) and skipper Tim Piper (69) made a 96-run dent in the deficit. Keeping up with the asking rate was a problem at times for Bradninch, who needed 83 off the last 15 overs before Piper and Ross Acton (33) stepped on the gas leaving them needing seven to win with five wickets in hand in the last over.
Piper flung the bat a the first ball from Kruger and was caught out then Mark Vercoe-Curtis and Squire managed three between them off the next four balls, leaving four to win off the last. Squire gave it the big wind-up, but Matt Thompson had the bails off before he could get back into his ground and Torquay won by a whisker.
Torquay are definitely safe as they are 30 points clear of Bradninch in the second drop spot with only 22 to play for.
Bradninch have to get a win against Bovey Tracey this Saturday and hope Cornwood are hammered by champs elect Exmouth to have any chance of bridging the 17-point gap between them and safety.
James Toms hit 60 and Marnus Labuschagne 45 as Plymouth won the derby clash with Cornwood by six wickets. Cornwood’s all-out total of 150 at Oak Park always looked a bit on the low side, and so it turned out. Plymouth knocked off the runs with more than 16 overs to spare, fuelling hopes they may just finish in the top five this season.