Essex Premier lost their first Inter County group match of the season with a 25-15 away defeat to Norfolk Premier.
Essex were without key players once again, as Peter Fautley and Alan Kay were out with illness and Matt Dillon, Debbie Dillon and Chris Coates all unavailable.
The current ICC champions now go back to the top of the table after the comfortable victory, as Essex settle in third.
In the first session the singles was tight early on but Gary Best pulled away against Mitchell Young to win comfortably 16-9.
Barry Hedges was heading for the victory going into the final end, until Chris Mann picked up a three to snatch the win 13-12.
In the pairs, Mark Chittock and Heather Clement were beaten by the young duo of Morgan Warnes and Jack Pye 19-8 – to take the first three matches for Norfolk.
Shirley Walker and Greg Wade rescued Essex from the whitewash, as they secured their victory on the final end to win 13-10 against Simon Warnes and John Sparham, as Norfolk took an early 6-2 lead.
The second session, was much of the same for Essex as Mo Binstead, Pauline Childs and Tony Ealham lost 18-8 against Melvin Wood’s trio.
Andrea Philbrick, Paul Bax and John Pye almost got a result from their match on the final end, but could only manage to get three as they lost 10-9 to Keith Cooke’s reliable triple.
In the fours, Babs Morokutti, Steve Killington, Keith Paxman and Anthony Fautley struggled despite their fightback as they lost 13-6 against David Lamb’s quartet.
Ian Arthur, Linda Lambert, Pat Goodchild and Phil Banner were Essex’s saving grace, as they won with ease 15-1 to give Essex a glimmer of hope for the second half.
Norfolk took a healthy 12-4 lead going into the break.
In the second half, Essex battled back as Hedges edged past Best on the last end to take a narrow 12-11 victory.
Young and Mann were tight throughout but Mann clawed back the two shot deficit on the final end to draw 13-13 as Norfolk claimed the bonus points.
In the pairs, Wade and Walker were kept at arms length by Warnes (Junior) and Pye to win 18-13.
Whereas Clement and Chittock came back from 12-7 down to win 16-13 and take the session win but lost the bonus points in the pairs.
Norfolk went into the last session with a 19-9 advantage and needed just one point to secure the overall victory.
Essex put in a better second half display, as Morokutti, Killington, Paxman and Fautley won comfortably 15-5 against substitute skip Selwyn Goldsmith and his four.
Arthur, Lambert, Goodchild and Banner almost pulled back at the death from 11-6 down but lost 11-10 to Lamb’s rink and claimed the bonus points in the fours for Essex.
In the triples, Binstead, Childs and Ealham fought hard for their narrow 12-11 victory over Cooke’s trio.
Although Philbrick, Bax and Pye fell to a heavy defeat 16-6 to Wood’s triple and dropped the bonus points in the triples to finish 25-15 to Norfolk.
This send Norfolk back to the top of the table, as Essex clamber into third two points behind Northampton.
Essex’s next test is the outfit of Northampton on 23rd October, for Essex’s first home match of the season.
Barry Hedges 7/10
Mitchell Young 6/10
Mark Chittock 7/10
Heather Clement 6/10
Greg Wade 7/10
Shirley Walker 7/10
Mo Binstead 8/10
Pauline Childs 7/10
Tony Ealham 6.5/10
Andrea Philbrick 7/10
Paul Bax 7/10
John Pye 6.5/10
Babs Morokutti 7/10
Steve Killington 7/10
Keith Paxman 7/10
Anthony Fautley 7/10
Ian Arthur 7/10
Linda Lambert 7/10
Pat Goodchild 8/10
Phil Banner 7/10