Essex Premier were narrowly defeated in the Inter County Championship 21-19 against Norfolk at Deanes School.
That now confirms Norfolk’s qualification into the knockout stages and top spot, with Essex now two points behind Kent after their 21-19 victory over Surrey yesterday.
Essex were without key players once again, Jake Atrill, Anthony Fautley and Paul Bax who were all unavailable ahead of the fixture.
The hosts flew out the traps, as Dom Reed and Jack Pye went head to head in the first singles match as they ended up unseparated at 13-13.
Mitchell Young had another battle with Gary Best and was just able to come through with a 15-13 victory.
The Essex pairs also applied the pressure, as Del Coates and Chris Coates held off Dave Lamb’s duo 14-11.
Babs Morokutti and Alan Jones followed suit with a 15-8 win over John Sparham and Simon Warnes. To give Essex a 7-1 lead.
Norfolk fought back in the second half, as Mark Chittock, Greg Wade and John Pye were beaten 13-7.
The other triple Phil Banner, Alan Kay and Nigel Reed also came off on the wrong end of a 19-7 defeat to Mark Linscell, Morgan Warnes and Simon Willies.
In the fours Essex held their own with Mo Binstead, Ian Arthur, Steve Killington and Keith Paxman who won handy 16-5 against the Norfolk quartet.
The other Essex four made up of Emily Poulter, Linda Lambert, Matt Dillon and Dave Wooller were unlucky to fall to a narrow 9-6 defeat.
For Essex to hold on to a slender 9-7 advantage at the break.
Norfolk then asserted their authority, as Pye held off Young 15-10. Reed was also just beaten on the last end by Best 11-10 for Norfolk to take the bonus points.
In the pairs, Sparham and Warnes just did enough to hold off Coates and Coates 16-15. The other pair Morokutti and Jones were also involved in a tight match but got the victory 13-12 and claimed the bonus points – as Norfolk took the lead for the first time overall 15-13.
The game went to wire, with Norfolk edging closer to the victory as Poulter, Kay and Reed were beaten 20-12 by the Norfolk trio headed by Keith Cooke.
Essex did snatch a victory in the triples as Wade, Chittock and Pye who picked up a big last end to overturn a 10-7 scoreline to win 12-10 but lost out on the bonus points.
In the fours Norfolk sealed the victory, as Melvin Woods quartet won comfortably 17-8 over Binstead, Arthur, Killington and Paxman to get to the 21 points.
Essex were not done yet, as every point counted for them with Banner, Lambert, Dillon and Wooller who won 13-8 victory and held on to bonus points to end up with 19 points.
Essex now took ahead to three weeks time for the final round of matches as they host Surrey.
While Norfolk travel to Kent where it becomes a one game shootout for Essex and Kent in order to snatch that final qualification spot.