Essex A confirm qualification to the knockout stages of the Inter County Championship after a 22-18 victory over Cambridge at Deanes School.
The hosts needed 17 points to consolidate their place into the later stages of the tournament after overturning a 16-12 deficit in the final session to land the spoils over Cambridge.
Essex missed out on first place in the group by a single point, after Norfolk A came through 29-11 winners over local rivals Suffolk.
Essex got off to a good start in the singles, as Pauline Childs won 15-7 and Shirley Walker followed suit as she held on to win 13-11.
In the pairs Essex did not fare so well, as Cambridge evened up proceedings with County Manager David Chittock and Carol Taylor going down 18-7. The other pair Phil Glenister and Peggy May went down 17-10 to level the session 4-4.
Essex kicked on in the second session, as the triples followed on from where the singles left off, as Eileen Smith-Allen, Andy Philbrick and Rob Wade won comfortably 17-7. Shirley Banner, Pat Goodchild and Tony Ealham were 18-8 victors.
In the fours Essex continued the momentum, as Jodie Robinson, Rob Taylor, Alan High and John Wade came through 10-7 winners in a tight battle against the Cambridge quartet. Colin Addis, Brenda Crowe, Roger Dover and Peter Debenham edged out Cambridge with a 13-12 thriller to lead 12-4 at the break.
After the break Essex struggled to maintain their high level of performances, as Cambridge took full advantage as Childs lost 20-8 and Walker was well beaten 28-4 – which gave Cambridge the bonus points in the singles.
The pairs suffered a similar fate, as Chittock and Taylor were defeated 21-8 and Glenister and May also lost 19-7 as Cambridge swept up the session to take the pairs bonus points – to take the overall lead for the first time with the game poised 16-12.
But Essex were not going to just give up with qualification four points away, as Smith-Allen, Philbrick and Wade cruised to victory 22-8 with Banner, Goodchild and Ealham also won handy 15-6 to take the bonus points in the triples, secure their place in the knockout stages and regain the lead 18-16.
Essex finished strong, as Robinson, Taylor, High and Wade won a thriller at the death 16-15. Cambridge denied the clean sweep in the last session as Addis, Crowe, Dover and Debenham lost 14-11 but held on to the bonus points by two shots to complete the 22-18.
Essex now look ahead to the rinks which takes place at the weekend, as Essex head to Surrey to face Kent, Herefordshire and Surrey with two sides qualifying for the finals in January.