Melton Mowbray CC moved closer to completing a County league double when their two front-running sides both won again on Saturday.
Mowbray’s Second XI moved to within one win of promotion as their comfortable home victory over Countesthorpe was topped by a surprise defeat for their Division Nine East title rivals Ketton Sports Seconds at Ashby Folville.
And the First XI stayed 42 points clear at the top of Division Three, with just four games to play, with a decisive win at third-placed Ketton.
Back at the All England Sports Ground, bottom side Countesthorpe Fourth XI won the toss and elected to bat first against Melton 2s.
Matt Wright opened the bowling for Melton and soon had two wickets, both bowled.
Countesthorpe struggled throughout, with only opener Popplewell (65 not out) batting with any fluency as he carried his bat through the innings.
All of the Melton bowlers took wickets as Countesthorpe reached 122-9 from their 40 overs, a total which could have been much lower had Melton taken all of the chances offered.
In reply, Melton again started well and it was a surprise when Stuart Mullard (20) was out chasing a wide ball through to first slip in the ninth over with the score on 38.
This brought Adam Thompson to the wicket who peppered the leg-side boundary, hitting 10 fours in a rapid knock of 51.
With James Culy (28 not out) providing support, Melton reached the target at a canter.
When Thompson was run out with just four needed to win, Culy hit the next ball straight back over the bowler’s head to finish the chase as the Seconds extended their winning run to 11 games.
Melton can claim the Division 9E title on Saturday in their penultimate game at Houghton and Thurnby Thirds.
Bowling: M. Wright 8-0-25-2; J. Eccles 10-0-18-2; K. Tew 6-0-6-1; A. Cropper 7-0-22-1; C. Hull 2-0-2-1; M. Hurrell 7-0-33-2.
Melton: S. Mullard 20, J. Culy 28*, A. Thompson 51, C. Hull 0*, Extras 25. Total: 124-2.
* Melton First XI won the toss on a damp and difficult track at Ketton and elected to bat first.
Opener Joe Peveritt held the innings together with a very well-made 51, with good support from Gary Potter (20) and Jamie Tew (15).
But all of the batsman struggled, and after their 45 overs, Melton finished on 134-9.
In reply Melton bowled extremely well, with the wickets shared out between all of the attack.
The Ketton opener batted well, but when he was finally out for 41, the rest of the innings subsided as the hosts were bowled out for 114.
With second-placed Barwell also winning, the gap at the top of the table remains at 42 points.
Melton require two more wins from their four games to guarantee promotion, and host struggling Barkby United Seconds on Saturday (1pm start).
Melton: S. Claricoates 13, J. Peveritt 51, C. Fourie 1, G. Potter 20, J. Cusack 5, J. Tew 13, H. Gibbs 1, M. Roberts 7, B. Redwood 5, P. Humphries 5*, R. Smallshaw 0*, Extras 13. Total: 134-9.
Bowling: C. Fourie 12-2-34-3; B. Redwood 7.4-2-24-4; J. Cusack 12-2-25-2.