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Royal London Club Championship produces quarter-final drama

The Royal London Club Championship reached the last-16 stage on Sunday and, despite two of the eight fixtures falling foul of the weather, there were six other excellent matches played around the country.

The best of these were at Liverpool & District Premier League side Northern who welcomed Walmley of the Birmingham & District Premier League to Moor Park.

Northern last reached this stage of the competition in 2011 but were National Club T20 finalists in 2012 so have some pedigree in recent ECB National Club competitions. They came out on top on this occasion, but only just.

Northern chose to bat first and, although a number of batsmen got starts, a decisive individual score proved elusive. This was mainly down to some disciplined bowling from Greg Ricketts (3-24), with only Thomas Bailey reaching a half-century as the hosts made 196 for nine from their 45 overs.

In reply, Walmley lost dangerman Oli Hairs - man-of-the-match in the 2012 final for York - for 24, one of Tomas Sephton’s three victims but found themselves in charge at 155 for four.

However the introduction of Jack Woosey into the bowling attack changed the outcome of the match. Walmley were reduced to 171 for eight, Woosey taking 3-36 from 6 overs.

Thomas Bailey bowled excellently at the death and the Walmley tail could not get him away as they came up just two runs short of the target.

In south-west London, 2013 runners-up Ealing were comfortably knocked out by Sunbury.

The Surrey side batted first and, after finding themselves seven for two and 42 for three, John Maunders and Rhythm Bedi put together a restorative fourth-wicket partnership of 101.

Maunders and Bedi scored 68 and 48 respectively and, despite the latter falling to Robbie Hughes, Kevin Smith provided some impressive late hitting to secure a total of 214 for five.

The Ealing reply started well with the Wilkin brothers Oliver and Mylo rapidly advancing the score to 47 without loss. But their departures for 28 and 20 within the space of an over prompted a dramatic collapse.

Maunders completed a superb all-round display, taking 4-18 from six overs as Ealing crumbled to 103 all out.

League form was turned on its head as bottom-placed Hastings & St Leonard’s Priory beat leaders Roffey in an all-Sussex Premier League clash.

Roffey put the hosts into bat and Hastings made steady progress throughout their innings, captain George Campbell bucking the trend with a 43-ball 49 as the home side made 205 for nine. Tom Barnes took 3-37 and was the pick of the visitors’ attack.

In reply, Roffey were in disarray as they twice lost three quick wickets, slumping from 18 without loss to 18 for three and 56 for four to 58 for seven.

On 129 for nine the game appeared up but Mark Pavlovic had no such thoughts as he made a one-man assault on the Hastings bowlers.

Joined by number 11 Barnes, who finished on nought from 14 balls, Pavlovic smashed 73 from 68 balls including six sixes to spark thoughts of the impossible happening before being run out by Freddie Hulbert as Roffey were all out for 184.

Staffordshire played host to North Staff & South Cheshire leaders Stone facing Derbyshire Premier League second-placed team Sandiacre Town and it was the Derbyshire side that booked a quarter-final place.

Stone chose to bat first and were indebted to Daniel Lunn’s 63 not out from 70 balls, as only four batsmen reached double figures in their 174 all out - captain and opening bowler Daniel Wheeldon returned to clean up the tail and take 4-28 from his nine overs.

In response, Sandiacre Town found themselves in a difficult position thanks to some excellent bowling from David Womble (3-29) and Steve Morgan (2-15) left the visitors at 81 for five.

But John Trueman’s unbeaten half-century, supported by 39 not out from Wheeldon, saw his side home with 20 balls to spare.

Elsewhere, the Northern Premier League’s Chorley squeezed past Cheshire Premier League outfit Bowdon by two wickets.

Bowdon were restricted to 160 for six from their 45 overs but Chorley, who last won this title in 1996, had Billy Smith to thank as he guided his team home with just two balls to spare.

In Cornwall, runaway Premier League leaders St Just welcomed West of England Premier leaders Frocester and it was the Gloucestershire side that came back with a win by five wickets as they dismissed their Cornish hosts for 157 and comfortably reached their target with more than 14 overs remaining.

The two fixtures that were rained off, York versus Chesterfield and Cambridge Granta against Brentwood, have been rescheduled for July 20.

Quarter-finals will be played on Sunday, August 3. For more information about all the fifth-round results and quarter-finals fixtures, go to the Royal London Club Championship Play-Cricket pages at ecb.play-cricket.com

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