CRICKET: The Norfolk Alliance title pennant will be fluttering proudly in West Norfolk after North Runcton held their nerve to win the championship for the first time since 1987.
The village side went into their final fixture of the season at Diss having beaten leaders Fakenham a week earlier to narrow the gap to just six points.
An eight-wicket win in South Norfolk ensured 24 points and when news filtered through that Fakenham had picked up only six in a home defeat to Stow, celebrations could start in earnest.
Runcton won the toss at Diss and dismissed the hosts for 140.
Kirwin Christoffels removed both openers and then had overseas pro Jebb Swallow caught behind trying to play a bouncer.
The hosts rallied but Runcton turned the screw with Michael Annakin (2-36) and Jack Major (2-38) among the wickets before Christoffels returned to complete his 4-12 figures.
In reply, Christoffels and Major were severe on the Diss attack, taking 80 off the first 10 overs before Major was caught for 34 off 30 balls. Ring Associates man of the match Christoffels and Mark Skipper took the score to 125 before the opener was caught for 67 in 53 balls. Nick Freeman and Mark Skipper took Runcton to victory with the last ball of the 23rd over.
The Runcton team were back at the clubhouse in time to take messages and calls updating them on Fakenham’s game. They waited anxiously as Stow crept nearer to victory and erupted in celebration when their West Norfolk neighbours won the match.
Attention now turns to the East Anglia Premier League play-off final on September 21, at either Witham or Swarston & Babraham when North Runcton will be aiming for a place in the higher league.
More victory for Runcton followed on Sunday with the first team, captained by Ben Skipper, and second XI, captained by Sam Major, becoming champions Divisions One and Two of the Mid Norfolk League.
Stow finished the campaign in second place, after their win at Fakenham. They limited the hosts to 186/9 with Dan Ward’s 3-27 the pick of their bowling.
Opener Keith Thomson stuck around for a gritty 49 in reply with support from Will Denny (48), Ben Wilcox (25) and Finlay Wilcox (23no) as they reached their target for the loss of seven wickets with just eight balls to spare.
It was a rare West Norfolk treble in the top division with Downham Town also victorious, cantering to a 132-run win at Dereham.
Captain Pat Yates led by example with 110, sharing a solid third-wicket stand with Fletcher Coutts (59) and tail-end support from Joss Stuart (44no) in the visitors’ 282 /7.
George Brice then piled the pressure on Dereham, taking 4-29 as they were dismissed for 150 in the 34th over.
Euan Gilmour struck an unbeaten 107 for Hockwold, well supported by Roy Bland (68) in a seven-wicket win at Bircham in Division Three.
Two West Norfolk batsmen fell just short of centuries in Division Four.
Ryan Twiddy scored 98 in Snettisham’s nine-wicket win against Winterton, while Tom High was out for 91 as Stow Seconds beat Beccles Town Seconds by seven wickets.
James Hearmon (73no), Ben Melton (50), James Banham (49) and Andy Walder (40) shared the bulk of Division Five champions Sandringham’s 284/5 total as they made it two seasons unbeaten with a 93-run success at Mundford.
Denver wrapped up their season with a 65-run win against Norwich Thirds. Batting first, Denver lost a couple of early wickets before Dan Harper (33), Callum Robinson (22) and Dan Cornwell (25) built good innings.
Downham Home and Garden MoM Chris Rolfe then hit an unbeaten 54, with help from Paul Morton (17) and a ninth wicket partnership of 55 with Alex Oughton (23) took the Denver total to 215, with maximum batting points.
In replay, Norwich were all out for 149, with some good resilience from their younger players. The wickets were shared evenly between the Denver bowlers. Morton finishing the game with figures of 1.1 overs, two wickets for no runs as Denver look forward to playing in Division Four next season.