Essex A were defeated 25-15 at home in the group stages of the Inter County Championship to Norfolk A at Deanes School.
Essex missed their first opportunity to qualify for the knockout stages with a game to go in the group, as they remain top but only by six points now after their defeat to second placed Norfolk.
Norfolk came out the blocks flying, as Shirley Walker was just edged out 13-10 by Robbie Lamb – whereas Pauline Child fell to a defeat on the final end 14-13.
In the pairs, Essex also had a hard time as Shirley Banner and Phil Glenister went down 16-7. Carol Taylor and County Manager David Chittock denied Norfolk the clean sheet after they came back from the depths of defeat to snatch a 15-14 victory late on, to end the session 6-2 behind.
Essex withstood the Norfolk pressure in the second session, as Pat High, Pat Goodchild and Tony Ealham won 15-10. Unfortunately Eileen Smith-Allen, Andy Philbrick and County Captain Rob Wade were beaten comfortably by the Lamb trio 17-8.
In the fours Essex had a mixed bag as Josie Robinson, Brenda Crowe, Bob Taylor and Alan High were narrowly defeated 12-9.
The other Essex four including Peggy May, Colin Addis, Peter Debenham and Jonathan East could not be separated by the Norfolk quartet as they drew 8-8 – with Essex 11-5 behind at the break.
In the second half, Essex still found it difficult to break Norfolk down and could not make a dent in their lead, as Child went down 16-7 to Lamb. But walker counteracted Childs’ defeat to win handy 14-7 as Norfolk took the bonus points.
Banner and Glenister were just beaten at the death as they lost 12-11 with Taylor and Chittock also going down 20-8. Norfolk claimed another set of bonus points, as Essex only took two points from the session for Norfolk to secure the overall win with a 21-7 advantage going in to the final session.
Essex battled on and doubled their overall score in the progress, with both triples coming through High, Goodchild and Ealham 15-8 and Smith-Allen, Philbrick and Wade storming to a 26-5 victory to overturn the four shots to take the bonus points.
In the fours Essex again had a mixed bag as Robinson, Crowe, Taylor and High took a slender 8-6 win. Although May, Addis, Debenham and East went down 15-8 and lost out on the bonus points in the fours to complete the 25-15 defeat to Norfolk.
Essex now look ahead to their final group game at home to Cambridge where a victory should be enough to qualify them for the knockout stages, as their opponents Norfolk will travel to Suffolk on the same day in three weeks’ time.