Ilkeston Rutland travelled to Marehay on Saturday to play the champions-elect and came close to giving them a fright.
Having bundled their opponents out for just 74 earlier in the season, Marehay may have sniffed an early finish when they won the toss and put Rutland in to bat.
Their opening bowlers, home grown James Kyte and Aussie Matthew Doric, have 81 wickets between them this year but on Saturday their opening salvo disappeared to all parts as David Smit and Ian Banks put on 55 within eight overs.
Marehay were forced to dip into their bowling reserves to get the breakthroughs. First Banks was LBW for 18 and then Smit’s easy innings of 37 was ended when he drove uppishly at the dibbly-dobblers of Richard Wood.
There was little cessation in the boundary flow as Rob Green hit 34 off just 32 balls but Marehay chipped away and by the midway point, Rutland were 135 for 4.
The lower order then struggled to make headway against the off breaks of Ben Perry-Taylor who sent down 15 overs for just 25 runs.
Missing three of their regular run contributors, Rutland might have collapsed in more of a heap were it not for Luke Marriott who marshalled the tail past the 200 mark with a fluent 45.
Marehay began their chase of 215 streakily but the wickets eventually came and Rutland enjoyed some good fortune when Kyte was run out whilst backing up off the fingers of Michael Chambers to leave Marehay 99 for 4.
But Stephen Lee (48) and Doric (64) soon settled into a steady unbroken partnership of 116 runs to ease their side home by six wickets.
There were plenty of surprises at the Rec where Rutland and Marehay’s 2nd XIs did battle in 4 North.
Promotion-seeking Marehay opted to bat first and it all seemed predictable enough as edges fell agonisingly short and their openers put on 38.
Then Joe Bird finally got some reward for an excellent spell of swing bowling - a caught behind quickly followed by two clean bowled in successive balls.
At the other end, Adam Slater’s spin was rewarded with an LBW and Marehay were 51 for 4. Their collapse became spectacular once Sam Moulds joined Slater to try out his leg breaks.
The batsmen struggled to cope with the turn and Marehay were all out for 90 with Moulds taking 3 for 20 and Slater 4 for 32.
In the event, it proved to be about 50 too many for Rutland to chase. An aggessive spell of new ball bowling from Chris Bradder (5 for 10) accounted for the top order and after that it became a procession of arrivals and departures. Only Lewis Jones (14) offered a semblance of resistance as Rutland were all out for 41.
Having dipped into the relegation zone with last week’s 16 point penalty, Rutland’s 3rd XI bounced back immediately with a 27 point win against Clowne Town.
Asked to bat, they came up with their best display of the season. Grant Robertson smashed a quick 40 while James Fearnside made 52 and 14-year-old Matt Parry was cantering towards his first 50 in men’s cricket - 60 including nine boundaries and a six.
Chasing 205 to win, Clowne’s openers were both run out and they never recovered - eventually being dismissed for 139 within 30 overs.