Arbroath’s hopes of Eastern Premier glory received a double boost yesterday after they secured an emphatic win over SMRH at Inverleith while closest challengers Grange slipped-up against Carlton.
Even the absence of five first-team regulars, including skipper Marc Petrie and the Burnett brothers, Fraser and Calvin, could not prevent the high-flying Lochlands men from romping to a ten-wicket success.
Euan Small, one of the men drafted in, did the early damage with an early brace including that of SMRH’s South African professional Shaylen Pillay as the hosts slumped to 20-3.
Small went on to claim three wickets, a feat matched by Elton Willemse, as SMRH, having elected to bat, were bundled out for just 80.
In reply Arbroath raced to the total, Brendon Ford stroking 42no and Ross McLean 35 as the title charge gained momentum.
Having won early, Arbroath were able to follow the fortunes of Grange and were delighted when their rivals came a cropper by 60 runs against Carlton at Portgower Place.
The visitors were in early trouble after electing to bat but a superb 60 from Scotland youth cap Angus Beattie and 42 from Michael Herdman saw them recover to post 214.
Harris Carnegie spearheaded Grange’s reply with a battling half-century but he couldn’t prevent Grange from slipping to their second defeat of the season.
Watsonians are handily placed on the fringes of the title race after they proved too strong for Aberdeenshire at Myreside.
Only professional Lesiba Ngoepe offered sustained resistance for the visitors in the face of testing bowling.
The South African recorded his third consecutive half-century but had little support as ‘Shire slumped to 155 all out, Brendan O’Connell leading the bowling effort with 4-38 from his ten overs.
Sonians lost three wickets during their pursuit but skipper George Munsey guided them home with 57no.
Scotland spinner Mark Watt demonstrated his growing prowess with the bat to top-score with 72 as Heriot’s posted 187 against Forfarshire at Goldenacre.
His effort paved the way for a 19-run win as Adrian Neill’s 4-31 completed an efficient performance from the capital side.
Glenrothes won the Fife derby at Gilvenbank as Falkland were left still searching for their first victory of the season.
Falkland professional Harsha Cooray hit a century in a total of 198 but Safyaan Sharif, the former Falkland all-rounder, guided Glens to their target with 58no to seal a six-wicket success.
WESTERN Premier leaders Prestwick recovered from 128-5 to post a healthy 235-9 at Dumfries.
The home bowlers were on top early but the Ayrshire side refused to press the panic button, instead showing the depth of their batting with useful contributions from the lower and middle order.
A thrilling run-chase saw Dumfries in contention throughout and they were favourites when they needed 15 runs from the final two overs with four wickets in hand.
However, Prestwick again demonstrated the resilience of potential champions to win by five runs.
Anwar Hafeez stroked a brilliant unbeaten century as Uddingston were made to fight hard for their 206-4 against Poloc at Bothwell Castle Policies.
However, his effort proved in vain as Scotland prospect Owais Shah guided the run-chase with a fine 62 to help secure a seven-wicket win.
Michael English top-scored with 63 while James Holt notched a maiden half-century as Ferguslie eased to an imposing 276-5 against Ayr at Meikleriggs.
Haroon Tahir then claimed the prize scalp of New Zealander Michael Papps as Ayr fell 23 runs short.
Champions Clydesdale continued their steady ascent of the table as Kelburne’s season of woe continued at Whitehaugh.
The Paisley team, still winless, were shot out for a new low of 40 – the fourth time they have failed to reach three figures this season.
Richie Berrington and Callum Drummond did the bulk of the damage with 4-8 and 4-9 before the Dale openers Mo Awais (23no) and Angus Guy (22no) rattled-off the runs in just seven overs.
Elsewhere, East Kilbride boosted their survival prospects with a hard-fought 13-run win over Greenock at Glenpark.
Half-centuries from Petrus Coetzee and Saif Sajjad secured only a second victory of the season for EK, the previous one having also come against Greenock in the corresponding encounter at Torrance House.