The crunch top of the table clash between the top two sides in the Saracens Herts Championship went the way of the visitors Dunstable on Saturday afternoon.
Batting first, hosts Hemel, in second place before this match, had opener Hem Ilangaratne (71) and number three batsman Brett Penny (70) drive their score along to put on 125 for the second wicket.
But tight bowling from Dunstable, not the league leaders for nothing, kept the Hemel batters under the cosh as they only managed to make 211-8 from their allotted 60 overs at Heath Park.
It was a tough score to defend, but Hemel’s opening bowlers tore into the Dunstable line-up, dropping them to 19-3 after eight overs.
Skipper Sam Cherry (75) proved to be the sticking point as he guided Dunstable along.
Prime support came from another Sam, this time Sam Marshall (39), who put on 85 with him for the seventh wicket to see Dunstable on the verge of victory.
They both fell at the end to Brett Penny and Steve Reader but the visitors still had time and room to creep over the line at the end.
Hemel slipped down to third place in the Championship after this loss, behind Leverstock Green, who had an amazing win at Hoddesdon on Saturday.
This Saturday Hemel travel to eighth-placed Flitwick.
Winless before Saturday’s game, Hemel’s second XI continued their good run against Wheathampstead with another victory to go with the two they took last year.
After being put in, top-order batting was the formula for the day.
Neil Morgan (41) and Tom Waterton (39) put on 98 for the first wicket before Craig Weston (63) and Will Langley (66) kept the ball rolling to push Hemel up to 242-5 from their 50 overs.
It went over to Hemel’s bowlers and they delivered.
Will’s brother Ed Langley took 1-12 from eight overs and leg spinner Alfie Bordoley turned in 3-21 from his full ten overs.
The other Hemel bowlers chipped in as Wheathampstead were dismissed for 174 for Hemel to win by 68 runs.
The win means eighth-placed Hemel are now just a point behind Wheathampstead in the Division 3B table.
Hemel host third-ranked Harpenden III this Saturday.
It was back to winning ways for Hemel’s third XI as they disposed of Boxmoor 1sts at the heath Park Nursery Ground in no uncertain terms to gain the local bragging rights.
Batting first, Hemel kept the scoreboard ticking over, gaining 96 runs in the first 20 overs, 139 in 30 and 178 after 40, at the loss of just four wickets.
Matt Petchell (65) led the way, followed by Bryan Davies (47), Aaron Wilson (28) and Ed Canham (26), while Charlie Hoskins chipped in with an unbeaten 22 at the end as Hemel made 278-7 from their 50 overs.
It was a big ask for Boxmoor and Hemel’s bowling proved to be in no mood to let things slip.
Bryan Davies took 3-18 from 8.4 overs and Suren Perera 3-22 from his allowed ten.
Boxmoor ended up all out for 185 as Hemel won by 93 runs.
Hemel maintained their grip on second place in the Division 6B table, while Boxmoor slipped to eighth position in the ten-team league.
Old Elizabethans II, in sixth, will host the Hemel side this Saturday.
There was a second defeat of the season and in consecutive weekends for Hemel’s fourth XI as they went down by 134 runs away at Old Minchendenians in Division 9B. The man who held the hosts’ innings together was Sree Pillai, who made 125 in 94 balls.
Tight bowling kept Old M’s at 132-5 but they then ran away with it to reach 268 – a formidable total at this level.
Ross Chapman turned in 3-44 and there were a few wickets each for Martin Botha (2-43) and Nic Benson (2-56).
After 20 overs of the Hemel reply they were at 42-5, with the top order all gone.
A 27 from Chapman, 24 from Dan Turbutt and 18 from Benson came along, but Hemel subsided to 134 all out in 46 overs.
Hemel are now in fifth place in the table and will entertain the league leaders Sandridge II this Saturday.
With both of Boxmoor’s second and third team games called off by their opposition, the side across the moor were able to step in and rustle a side to play them in a friendly.
It was a good opportunity for Hemel’s players to turn out on the main Boxmoor pitch – The Oval.
Hemel’s bowlers kept a good hold on the Boxmoor batters and kept them down to 142-9 from their 40 overs.
Kelly Lowe (51) got their best score while Scott Radcliffe took 3-20, Mitchell Morris 2-22 and Martyn Bell 2-26 from their allowed eight overs.
Hemel then needed just 28 overs to see off the necessary runs. Lewis Boughton made 47 while Max Farrelly hit an unbeaten 52 as Hemel cruised to a seven-wicket victory.
The Sunday XI hosted the touring Roving Reporters side. The sequence for this friendly fixture has been following a pattern of alternate wins for the past four years.
In that scheme of results, it was their turn to win, which they duly did to put them 3-2 up in the series.
Hemel didn’t help their cause by being dismissed after only 36 of their 40 overs and the fact that no-one, other than Ryan Wilson (37), scored any runs of note.
They were reduced to 68-6 after 22 overs which proved too much to come back from.
Hemel tried on the bowling front, removing the first three Reporters batsmen to leave them on 3-8.
However their skipper Paul Lewis held things together with an unbeaten 57 and 20s from the lower-order batsmen saw the Reporters home with six wickets down in 33 overs.
Will Hodgins picked up Hemel’s only two-fer with 2-14 from his six overs.
The side, in second place in the Lords Chess Valley League Division 3, visit third-ranked Bourne End this Sunday.