Rothborough Comets claimed a comprehensive 10-0 win over club colleagues Gladiators in Division Two of the Kettering & District Table Tennis League.
They enjoyed a straight-end whitewash, with no deuce ends and the victory extended their lead at the top and, with the three top scorers in the division, they must now be cast-iron certainties for promotion this year. They also have one of four players to have currently identical percentages in fourth place in the averages – Pete Sturges, Keith McLaren, Mark Pearson and Ray Harrison.
The second promotion place is still being hotly contested as Rothborough Dakotas gained ground on Corby D in their blank week. However, the two-man Dakotas team perhaps could have closed up more against Thrapston Hawks without top player Alfie Wright.
Joe Kent tried hard and beat Pete Rowbotham in the cause, consolidating his earlier victory, and both he and Sidney Wright took ends off Gareth Lewis but the rest went the way of the Rothwell side, with Lewis completing his maximum and Rowbotham a pair. They then ensured the victory when teaming up for the doubles.
Ron Palfrey also starred in a two-man team but his double was all Harborough Imps could muster as Kettering B climbed to fourth in reversing the 8-2 scoreline from week seven.
Jim Chatburn gained his fifth hat-trick, Pete Scrivener his first double since returning from injury and Ann Woolston her third double in a steady season.
All players were involved in long matches when Rothborough Exocets entertained Thrapston Harriers, but the ladies from each team played in two five-end matches and won one each.
Lauren Ainsworth beat Muriel Cox in their duel and also beat Paul Blantern in her third double of the season. Mike Burrows won twice for Harriers but the maximum man was Sean Smith who has dropped only two games in the second half of the season.
James Young was the bright spark for Burton Baptist E with his fifth hat-trick and his head-to-head with Roger Powdrill was the best game of the match. In the end, Powdrill had to settle for a couple of victories, along with team-mates Helmut Salander and Alan Abbott in only his third match of the season.
Results: Burton Baptist E 3 (Young 3) Rothborough Phantoms 7 (Abbott 2, Powdrill 2, Salander 2, Powdrill/Salander), Kettering Town B 8 (Chatburn 3, Scrivener 2, An Woolston 2, Chatburn/An Woolston) Harborough Imps 2 (Palfrey 2), Rothborough Comets 10 (Jones 3, Simmons 3, Sturges 3, Simmons/Sturges) Rothborough Gladiators 0, Rothborough Exocets 5 (Smith 3, L Ainsworth 2) Thrapston Harriers 5 (Burrows 2, Blantern, Cox, Blantern/Burrows), Thrapston Hawks 4 (Kent 2, Elliott, S Wright) Rothborough Dakotas 6 (Lewis 3, Rowbotham 2, Lewis/Rowbotham).
Higham Band have virtually secured the runners-up position in the Premier Division following their 9-1 victory over third-placed Corby Town A.
Mark Nannery and Andy Harrison both recorded hat-tricks but there was a shock result as Michael Clarke defeated Richard Elliott for Corby’s solitary point. For the record books, this is the first time in the long history of the Higham Band Club that Higham have won 9-1 and Elliott has been the player to fail to get a hat-trick.
Alan Woolston has not played in the top flight for several years but when Kettering Town A were short of a player, he answered the SOS call from John Fuller and duly won twice as he helped his team to a 9-1 success over Burton Baptist B. Fuller and Mike Hawes shared seven wins with Jacek Koltuniuk earning Baptist’s consolation point.
Kevin Bird was suffering from the flu so missed Westfield A’s match against Arthingworth. This did not stop the champions-elect from securing a 7-3 success though.
Steve Silk won his customary treble for Westfield and Roumen Stefanov added a double but fell 12-10 in the fifth end to Chris Gibbons. Nicole Bird stepped in for her poorly father and added a single with a straight-games win over Michael Edwards.
Matt Rushton and Brian Wooding both recorded maximums as Westfield B defeated Thrapston Eagles 7-3. Scott Dixon failed to add to the Westfield total as he lost out to Ian Donaldson, Chris Warliker and Valdi Papiernik, but did claim success in the doubles in tandem with Wooding.
A patched up Harborough Athletic team proved no match for a full-strength Kettering Town A side and fell to a 9-1 defeat.
Barry Thompson had given his Harborough side the lead as he saw off Mike Hawes in four ends but John Fuller and Carl Leeson both recorded trebles for the victors. After suffering defeat to Thompson, Hawes came back to win his other two matches but only after gaining wins in the fifth end over Mike Brocklebank and James Allington.
Results: Higham Band 9 (Nannery 3, Harrison 3, Elliott 2, Elliott/Harrison) Corby Town A 1 (Clarke), Kettering Town A 9 (Fuller 3, Hawes 3, Woolston 2, Fuller/Hawes) Burton Baptist B 1 (Koltuniuk), Westfield A 7 (Silk 3, Stefanov 2, Bird, Silk/Stefanov) Arthingworth 3 (Gibbons 2, Henson), Westfield B 7 (Rushton 3, Wooding 3, Dixon/Wooding) Thrapston Eagles 3 (Donaldson, Warliker, Papiernik), Harborough Athletic 1 (Thompson) Kettering Town A 9 (Fuller 3, Leeson 3, Hawes 2, Fuller/Hawes).
Tom Wildman completed a comfortable treble for Division One leaders Westfield C once he had got past James Allington in the fifth end in their opening match of the night.
Allington was better in the only other two matches that needed a fifth end, recording wins over Nicole Bird and Nitin Patel. However, with Bird and Patel both winning twice and Wildman taking the doubles with Patel, Westfield recorded an 8-2 win.
Skipper Aaron Moore recorded a treble for second-placed Corby B against Thrapston Kites on a night where no match needed a fifth end.
Stephen Woolston and Kyle Murie both won twice but neither could get the better of Kites skipper Peter Briggs. Moore and Woolston took the doubles to complete an 8-2 win, which leaves Corby B three points behind leaders Westfield C with both teams having three matches left this season.
Alan Tyler recorded two wins and Nigel Payne one before they combined to take the doubles in the only match of the night to go the full five ends. However the lack of a third player meant Falcons slipped to a 6-4 defeat to Diamonds, for whom Liam Burnham recorded his fifth treble of the season.
With only Julian Marlow available, Arrows called up League secretary Ivor Jones for their clash with Buccaneers. While Marlow recorded a straight-games treble, Jones found the going a little tougher, winning twice but going down in five ends to Tom Ravenscroft.
The doubles included what may well be a first for the League when Luke Saywood, having won a game for Buccaneers by forfeit, joined Julian Marlow to win the doubles for Arrows against his own team-mates.
Burton D were another side a player short, when they met their C team. Darryl Sutcliffe took the first two ends of the night 12-10 and 17-15 before Derek Muggleton fought back to take the next three to put the C team ahead.
While four of the remaining five singles matches went beyond three ends, Burton D’s only point of the evening came when Baz Fatania beat Chris Agg in four ends.
Results: Westfield C 8 (Wildman 3, Bird 2, Patel 2, Patel/Wildman) Harborough Rangers 2 (J Allington 2), Thrapston Kites 2 (Briggs 2) Corby B 8 (Moore 3, Murie 2, Woolston 2, Moore/Woolston), Harborough Diamonds 6 (Burnham 3, Crook 2, McGowan) Thrapston Falcons 4 (Tyler 2, Payne, Tyler/Payne), Rothborough Arrows 6 (Marlow 3, Jones 2, Marlow/Saywood) Rothborough Buccaneers 4 (Ravenscroft 2, Owen, Saywood), Burton Baptist D 1 (Fatania) Burton Baptist C 9 (Muggleton 3, Smith 3, Agg 2, Muggleton/Smith).
Team of the week: Higham Band.
Player of the week: Andy Harrison.