FORM team Chester Boughton Hall leaped into serious contention for the Premier Division title when they inflicted a comprehensive eight-wicket defeat on secondplaced Neston at Parkgate.
With seven of their eight wins having come in the last eight games, Chester lie only 10 points behind leaders Bowdon, whom they visit in a crucial fixture next Saturday.
Winning the toss, Neston were ill at ease against the swing and pace of Alex Kegg (4-36) and Aussie Heath Pritchard (4-50) and were all out for 125, to which Stan Clifford contributed 58. Boughton Hall made light of their task, knocking off the runs inside 35 overs, Cheshire Under 19s captain Matt Griffiths scoring 66 not out and Eddie Roberts 41.
Bowdon lost their second game in three by three wickets at Hyde in a splendid match which produced 540 runs and some glittering stroke play. Bowdon looked safe when they declared at 268-5 (Tony Crozier 71, Gary Yates 56, Jon Bean 43). But Hyde set about their task with relish and raced to 112-1 in an hour before Dave Fitzsimmons was out for 69. The impetus was regained by Martyn Knight (42) and John Ashley (33) before former India one-day international all-rounder Rudra Singh smashed 69 not out to steer the Werneth Low side home at 272-7 with two overs to spare.
Nantwich edged up to third, their highest since joining the league in 1996, when they beat Alderley Edge by four wickets at Whitehouse Lane. Alderley were bowled out for 202 (Jonathan Usher 80 not out, Chris Hampshire 3-41, Barrington Browne 3-60), but the Dabbers made short work of their task, making 204-6 with 10 overs to spare (Paul Hampshire 50, Jeff Maynard 41). Oxton registered their third victory at an opportune time to stay outside the relegation zone, beating struggling Didsbury by six wickets at Townfield Lane. Neil Cross scorched to 93 not out after Didsbury made 158 (Jhangir Abbas 60, Trevor Gane 51). Oxton's Aussie leg leg-spinner Robin Stafford had a 6-36 return.
The fastest bowler in the league, Macclesfield's Mark Hillaby, routed Oulton Park with an 8-38 return off 25 overs to take his tally to 44 wickets. Batting first, Macclesfield had totalled a modest 178 (Chris Buckley 57, Jason Whittaker 4-54), but Oulton mustered only 143 with Andrew Kent making 44.
Urmston won the clash of bottom teams by eight wickets at home to Bramhall, who risk completing the season without a victory. Mike Bolger top-scored with 67 in Bramhall's 165 (Kurt Edginton 5-39) after which Urmston made it with 60 overs in their locker. Kiwi Mike Davidson (80) and Ian Grind-ley (47) shared an unbroken century partnership.