Rothwell are already on course for a swift return

Oundle opener Hanno Kotze is caught behind by Sam Malton off the bowling of Ben Parker as Rushton claimed a nine-wicket success at Milton Road to take over at the top of the NCL Premier Division. Picture by David Lowndes
Oundle opener Hanno Kotze is caught behind by Sam Malton off the bowling of Ben Parker as Rushton claimed a nine-wicket success at Milton Road to take over at the top of the NCL Premier Division. Picture by David Lowndes

The season may not even be at the halfway point yet but Rothwell and Kislingbury could be forgiven that the job is already more than half done in Division Three of the Hevey Building Supplies Northants Cricket Leagye.

The top two, who are both unbeaten, have pulled away from the rest in the early stages of the campaign and already look well on course for promotion.

For leaders Rothwell, who are just a point above Kislingbury but crucially 45 ahead of third-placed Wollaston 2nd, the target is a quick return to Division Two following their relegation last summer.

These are somewhat unchartered waters for the men from Desborough Road with the first team, according to captain Richard Panter, playing at their lowest ever level.

But their dominance, emphasised again by a comfortable seven-wicket win over Oundle 2nd last weekend, of the division is fairly clear and already making their aim for the season likely to become a reality.

“I think we felt fairly confident and after coming down from Division Two, I guess we would have been one of the favourites to be up there,” skipper Panter said.

“I believe this is the lowest the first team has been but we made a couple of decent additions and I was quietly confident that we would be in the mix, although I wouldn’t have said that we would be unbeaten after nine games.

“We all want to win and we want to try to go straight back up in the first two places and if we can go back up as champions then it would be an added bonus.

“The team morale is fantastic and I guess that’s what happens when you are winning matches but everyone seems to be enjoying it.

“We all have our jobs to do and everyone seems to be very clear in what they need to do and I think that has made a difference.”

Oundle’s second string were skittled for just 55 last Saturday with Rohin Thapar being the star performer with brilliant figures of 8-43.

Rothwell’s next task is at bottom side Old Northamptonians 3rd this weekend before a top-of-the-table showdown at Kislingbury a week later.

And Panter is keen to ensure his team stay focused on the job.

“Rohin bowled really well, he bowled straight and quick and it paid off for him,” he added.

“I thought Oundle would be a banana skin for us but in the end it was pretty comfortable.

“We just have to make sure we keep everyone motivated and go into every game with the same attitude.

“It’s top versus bottom this weekend but you never really know what can happen. We just have to try to stay at the same level.”

The top-of-the-table clash in the Premier Division went the way of Rushton as they sent out a clear message while storming to the summit.

Morning leaders Oundle were bowled out for 152 with George Parker (3-31) leading a fine all-round display from the visitors while Jonathan Dalley (40) was the hosts’ top scorer.

And Rushton, who are now eight points clear, made the chase look easy as James Kettleborough (74) and Ben Coddington (62no) took them to 156-1.

Bottom side Wollaston avoided defeat for the first time this season as they drew with Horton House.

Chris Perry took 4-51 as Horton reached 265-8 and Wollaston’s chase fell short as they closed on 245-6 with Tom Doyle hitting 80.

Luke Cummins hit an unbeaten 113 as Geddington totalled 297-8 against Brixworth, who then closed within just eight runs of victory on 290-6.

Elsewhere, Tom Smith took 4-37 as Finedon Dolben (129-8) edged out Rushden (128) by two wickets.

James Howes and Ryan Lovell produced superb displays with the bat as Division One leaders Wellingborough Town made it eight wins from nine matches.

Howes (146) and Lovell (100) put on 224 for the first wicket and Connor Gates added an unbeaten 48 as they declared on 325-4 after 47 overs against Thrapston.

Will Groenland hit 62 for the hosts but they were all out for 211 as Gates (3-4) and Sam Owen (3-52) bowled the leaders to a big win.