Sussex League Division Two leaders Hastings and St Leonards Priory have opened up a gap of 11 points over nearest challengers Haywards Heath and 29 over third-placed Billingshurst after two excellent but contrasting victories in the last fortnight.

On 13th July they travelled to Billingshurst, declared at 314 for 5 after 49 overs and bowled out their hosts for 269 with three overs to spare. Opener Ricardo de Nobrega raced to his second century of the summer, going on to make 153 off 127 balls, and was ably supported by Elliott Hooper (55) and Ryan Hoadley (57). Left-arm fast bowler Adam Barton took five wickets and, as has been the pattern this summer, others were shared between John Morgan, Jed O’Brien and Hooper.

Last Saturday, entertaining Chichester Priory Park, they again batted first, this time on a sticky pitch after heavy rain overnight. At 72 for four with almost half their overs gone they looked to be in some trouble, but were dug out by Hooper again (a confident 79) and Greg Devlin (battling to 30) to reach 182 for eight. Chichester, batting conservatively in much easier conditions, never looked likely to reach this target but seemed capable of holding out for a draw, despite Hooper’s spell of five for 20. The last wicket pair continued to frustrate their hosts until Barton struck with just one ball to spare.

Next up are two more tough fixtures: away to Bognor Regis tomorrow, then back to Horntye to oppose Haywards Heath on 3rd August. Unbeaten since 1st June, Priory will fear neither.

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