It was the clash of the titans in this week's match between Walton E and Lawford in Division Two of the Clacton and District League with four of the Division's top six players, all with averages over 90%, in action on the table.
Walton's Jared Chelski was defending an unbeaten record and his team-mate Daniel Young had lost only four matches all season whilst Lawford's Richard Spence had been beaten just once and Paul Hewitt, like Young, defeated only four times.
But it was Walton's dynamic young duo who took the battle honours, Chelski and Young sweeping past their opponents in such devastating fashion that all of their matches were settled in three-straight. It was enough to give Walton a convincing 7-3 win and inflict a first defeat of the season on second-placed Lawford.
So Chelski retained his hundred per cent record and Young chalked up his eleventh hat-trick of the season, and although their Walton side will not feature in the promotion places, both players are more than ready for higher-level play.
If it was a tough week for Lawford, it was only marginally better for promotion rivals Nomads Tigers who were forced to share the spoils with Brotherhood F. No-one in the match stayed unbeaten, John Marshall and Daryl Lott winning a couple each for the Tigers, with Lawrence Torr and Lee Allen taking two apiece for Brotherhood. The Tigers were fortunate to win three of the four matches which went the distance, Marshall beating Sandie Krelle 11-5 in the fifth and Torr 11-9 in the fifth, whilst Marshall and Lott edged the doubles 12-10 in the decider against the Krelle and Torr. It was the Tigers' first drawn match of the season.
Elsewhere, Brotherhood I were 7-3 winners over Windsor Magpies who were once again indebted to an Ollie Rampton treble for their points. Graham Parkes, Fred Gallone and Paul Alden each won twice for Brotherhood and, although only one match went the distance, it proved to be a cracker with Rampton edging past Alden 3-11, 11-8, 8-11, 12-10, 12-10 in a classic encounter of contrasting styles.
The Magpies are still without a win this season, as are Walton D who this week went down 7-3 to Windsor Harriers. Despite the defeat, Walton's John Long had reason to celebrate, the dogged super-veteran turning back the years to take a well-earned first maximum of the season. Long's closest victory was an 11-6 in the fifth success over Isabel Barton but that wasn't the closest match of the evening, Windsor's Jenny Higgins scraping past John Bonner 15-13 in the decider.
Brotherhood H defeated Brotherhood E 9-1, Frank Burbidge and Woody Fitzpatrick unbeaten. Tricia Salter took a couple, edging it 11-9 in the fifth against Rodney Betts but losing to Duncan Dunne. The 'H' team also had a tough battle in the doubles, Burbidge and Fitzpatrick eventually beating Dunne and Betts 11-7 in the decider.
An undefeated Ray Chillingworth led the way as Windsor Buzzards came back from 4-1 down to beat Nomads Jaguars 6-4 in an encounter where every player picked up at least one point. Despite the defeat, the Jaguars will feel pleased with their performance, Andy Cawley and Caroline North both defeating Pete Bloomfield, and Cawley and Kevin Hume beating Dan Malinowski.
The title battle in Division Three continues to see-saw with Brotherhood G regaining top spot from Windsor Penguins following a 9-1 success over Windsor Swallows. Paul Metcalf and Mark Beckham stayed unbeaten although it was a close 8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 5-11, 12-10 for Metcalf against Robbie Strutt. Strutt took the Swallows' point with an 11-6 in the fifth win over Graham Healey. So, with four matches to play, the Brotherhood side are just two points clear of the Penguins - with the two teams scheduled to meet next week.
Brotherhood J beat Nomads Leopards 8-2, Dan Still and Harley Wood unbeaten. Maci Harvey won one for Brotherhood, as did Dave Wright and Bob Jillins for the Leopards. There were three tight five-setters, Wood beating Jillins 10-12, 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, Maci Harvey beating Norman Jacobs 12-10 in the decider but going down by the same score to Wright.
The Pumas were forced to field a guest player in the all-Nomads' clash with the Lynx and, unsurprisingly, the Lynx took match 7-3, Liam Harris staying undefeated. Andrew Cousins won two and Lionel Goddard one for the Pumas.
A second all-Nomads' clash proved a little more one-sided, the Caracals defeating the Ocelots 10-0 with only one of the matches extended to a fourth set. However, it was something of a red-letter day for the Caracals' captain Hazel Blanche who picked up her second hat-trick in as many matches, her previous maximum before that being four years ago in 2014.
Top met bottom in Division One with Nomads Panthers predictably beating Windsor Kestrels 10-0. There were hat-tricks for John Hatley, Gill Locke and Colin Webber but Hatley had an unexpected struggle in two of his matches, defeating John Harvey 11-7 in the fifth and Kestrels' reserve Dave Sweetland 11-8 in the fifth.
Brotherhood D are the second team in the relegation zone alongside the Kestrels but they moved three points clear of their rivals after picking up valuable points in their 7-3 defeat at the hands of Walton C. Peter Burrows won three, Graham Buxton two and John Rankin one for the winners whilst Russell Hillier took a couple for Brotherhood. Grant Sharpe recorded the third Brotherhood point with an 11-7 in the decider victory over Rankin but just failed to make it a second, losing 11-5 in the decider to Buxton.
Walton A consolidated second position with a 7-3 success over Brotherhood B, Gary Young's treble for the winners including a victory in five over Gracie Edwards. There were a couple each for Gavin Price and Kevin James although Price had to fight hard to beat Martin Edwards 11-9 in the fifth. Gracie Edwards took two singles wins for the losers and, with Martin Edwards, defeated Price and James in the doubles.
Three each for Greg Green and Mel Rampton, and a couple for Felipe Rodriguez, saw Windsor Condors home 9-1 against Walton B. Derek Willis took a point for Walton and played well against Rampton before going down 11-6 in the fifth.
Brotherhood C beat Windsor Hawks 6-4, Kevin Gowlett and Abhi Peshkar winning two each, Kevin Pryor one, and Peshkar and Gowlett taking a crucial 12-10 in the decider doubles success against Andy Vincent and John Barton. But Vincent proved to be the star of the show, his excellent maximum for the Hawks including an 8-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7 victory over Gowlett.
John Pattrick and Phil Smith were Windsor Eagles' hat-trick men as their side defeated Nomads Lions 8-2. Sue Welham, making a welcome return to the Eagles' line-up, won once. There was a point each for Roger Hance and Jason Lloyd for the Lions, Lloyd also taking Pattrick close before losing 11-7 in the fifth.
* The closing date for the 2018 Closed Championships is only days away with all entries to be with the organisers by this Saturday (24th March). Entries can be made on-line or sent by post to Tony Oswick. The qualification is six matches (for Division One and Two players) and five matches (for Division Three players). Late entries will not be accepted. The Championships take place on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th April at the Coastal Academy Sports Hall, and are once again sponsored by Paul Newbould, Planning and Building Design Services.
Nomads Panthers 10 Windsor Kestrels 0;
Walton C 7 Brotherhood D 3;
Windsor Condors 9 Walton B 1;
Brotherhood B 3 Walton A 7;
Windsor Eagles 8 Nomads Lions 2;
Brotherhood C 6 Windsor Hawks 4.
Walton E 7 Lawford 3;
Brotherhood F 5 Nomads Tigers 5;
Windsor Magpies 3 Brotherhood I 7;
Walton D 3 Windsor Harriers 7;
Brotherhood E 1 Brotherhood H 9;
Windsor Buzzards 6 Nomads Jaguars 4.
Nomads Leopards 2 Brotherhood J 8;
Nomads Caracals 10 Nomads Ocelots 0;
Brotherhood G 9 Windsor Swallows 1;
Nomads Pumas 3 Nomads Lynx 7.