While top and bottom are separated by 25 points after four matches in the top two divisions of the Braintree Table Tennis League, division three has produced a much tighter pack.
The ten teams are covered by just 13 points after title favourites Rayne G suffered their first defeat of the season.
It was a skeleton Rayne G side that faced Black Notley G – only Tim Gowers from their normal line-up, plus two reserves – and they went away empty-handed.
Notley H joined them at the summit after a 6-4 win over Notley I.
Mike Smith and Leon Hewitt won twice for the I team but Helen Barnett led her team to victory.
Notley G are three points behind and then come Rayne H, who beat Notley I 8-2.
Tim Townsend and Brian Dixon were unbeaten.
Rayne I’s sixth place, just behind Notley F, owes much to the presence of Paul Lombardi, who has contributed nine singles and two doubles wins to their 19 points. He was at it again last week in their 6-4 win at Felsted RBL C, where Nicholas Butler did well to take a game off him.
Division two also has joint leaders after Sible Hedingham took all ten points from their neighbours Hedingham Lions to close the gap on Notley B, who had to fight hard for a 6-4 win over their own D team.
The D team almost made it a draw, but Gordon Fairchild just got home at 11-9 in the fifth game against Keith Flowers. Victor Chan remained unbeaten for the B team while Sean Clift won twice for the D.
Liberal C are only a point behind after their 7-3 win over Rayne E, in which both Gareth Davies and Garry Fryatt were unbeaten. Paul Wellington came desperately close to denting Davies’s record but was pipped at 8-11, 11-5, 6-11, 13-11, 13-11.
A solid team effort helped Rayne F in fourth place. Peter Taylor, Brian How and Ted Sims all won twice. While they all lost as expected to Ken Lewis, Taylor and How managed to get the better of Lewis and Lorraine Burgess in the doubles.
In an all-Notley clash, the C team overcame the E team 6-4 thanks to three wins by Matt Wallace, although he was pushed to the limit – 12-10 in the fifth game - by Tim Huxtable, making a welcome return to the league.