BOTH Nelson and Colne ended the season with a win on Sunday - after defeats in the mini-derbies the day before.
Nelson won the toss against East Lancashire and elected to bat, and Chris Heap and Russell Bradley shared only the second half-century opening stand of 2012, passing the previous best of 53 in recording 57 before Heap was caught at slip for 16.
Bradley was looking good for his first 50 of the season, having hit eight fours in a sparkling 48, but he offered a simple return catch to Mark Bolton. Tom Bradshaw hit three boundaries in a cameo worth 15 before he was trapped by Ockert Erasmus.
Another half-century stand put Nelson in a strong position. David Crotty, skipper for the day, and Joe Scuderi added 52 for the fourth wicket before the latter was caught on the deep extra cover boundary for a workmanlike 24. Crotty went on to make 36, passing the 500 mark for the season, before he was out in the 46th over. Lewis Bradley added a bright and breezy unbeaten 24 off just 23 balls as Nelson closed on 192-6.
In reply, Mini Bhada registered 17 of the 19 runs on the board by the end of the fourth over. Richard Meade ended his innings at that point, meeting success with an lbw claim. Adam Chester (8) and John Turner (9) both fell to the spin of Scuderi, putting East Lancs on 53-3. A stand of 53 between David Pearson and Erasmus threatened to take the game away from Nelson and, at the halfway stage, East Lancs were over 30 runs ahead of what Nelson had been.
Occasional bowler Crotty came into the attack and immediately bowled Pearson for 37, and claimed the wicket of Paul Kelly for 13 before taking the important wicket of Erasmus on 43 - sending a cover drive straight to Lewis Bradley, who safely pouched the catch.
It should have been plain sailing for Nelson, but, first David Turner (13) and then, Mark Bolton (16 not out), plus another 10 runs from wides in the space of four overs, pushed the visitors up to 186-8 with three overs remaining.
Scuderi was re-introduced into the attack and, you couldn’t have written a better script. His first ball was probably the worst ball he has ever bowled - a long-hop which Danny Chester lifted towards the square-leg boundary, where Chris Heap made the easiest of catches. The saying goes that bad balls sometimes get good wickets - that proved it! Scuderi hadn’t finished though. Three balls later, he trapped Matt Egan plumb in front to give Nelson victory by six runs. Scuderi’s final figures were 4-31.
Colne earned a four-wicket win at Todmorden to finish 12th in the table.
Adam Holt took 5-24 and Khurram Nazir 3-43 as the hosts were all out for 119 - of which Simon Newbitt top scored with 49, in addition to 33 extras.
Nazir then hit 45 and Saleem Qureshi an unbeaten 20 as Colne eased to victory with almost 12 overs to spare.
Burnley, meanwhile, travelled to Colne on Saturday.
Colne batted first and Burnley soon continued their good recent form as the impressive Adnan Rasool (5-56) and Graham Lalor (2-24 off 11 overs) reduced the home side to 19-5 and then 54-7.
There was then a partnership of 70 from stand-in captain Matt Walker (44) and Holt (34) which pushed the total to some sort of respectability, until Burnley skipper Bharat Tripathi took the final two wickets.
In reply, Burnley, in the form of Steve Brunt (18) and Josh Whitehead (13), took the score to 55 in only the ninth over, helped by a number of extras - there were 23 wides and three no balls in total.
The victory was sealed by Ali (26) and Rasool (26 not out) to ease home in only the 26th over with six wickets down.
At the same time, Nelson were unable to stop Lowerhouse’s march towards the title.
Lowerhouse won the toss, elected to bat and made a promising start. Ben Heap and Jonny Whitehead put on 26 in the first five overs before substitute professional Luke Proctor had Heap lbw for seven in the next over. Progress slowed as Proctor bowled Whitehead for 12 and had Joe Hawke lbw for a duck. When Jonathan Finch was bowled by Proctor, Lowerhouse had slumped to 44-4.
Joe Martin only made three but helped Francois Haasbroek add 23 for the fifth wicket before he too fell victim to Proctor. The turning point, however, was the partnership between Chris Bleazard and Haasbroek. It was not easy against tight bowling from Proctor and Harrison Phelan, whose 10 overs only cost 31 runs, but their patience paid dividends.
After putting a lot of effort into his 14 overs, Proctor was rested, holding figures of 5-31, but his replacement, Saeed Shah was unable to stem the flow of runs as Bleazard and Haasbroek opened up. Bleazard hit four fours in making 44 but Meade returned to the attack and bowled him to end the 84-run stand.
Proctor spread-eagled Charlie Cottam’s stumps before he’d scored and Matt Walker was run out for three but Haasbroek remained unbeaten on 56. He only reached the boundary four times but his innings was of immense importance. On the opposide side, Proctor deserved his collection for taking 6-52 but he did contribute 16 to the total of 31 extras which boosted Lowerhouse’s total to 177-8.
Nelson got off to a slow start with Chris Heap lbw for none in the fifth over. The second wicket did not fall until the 17th over but, by then, Nelson were way behind the run-rate, having struggled to 29. Tyler McGladdery was caught behind for seven, and worse was to follow in the next over, Tom Bradshaw bowled for 15.
Proctor and Crotty were the most likely to challenge Lowerhouse’s total and they doubled the score before Proctor was caught behind for 15.
Crotty hit three fours and a six in making 44 but a fantastic, diving catch on the long-off boundary by Matt Walker ended his innings. Lewis Bradley hit a couple of boundaries in reaching his highest first XI score of 36 before he was caught in the covers.
Russell Bradley (1) and Meade (0) went cheaply but Phelan showed plenty of promise with an enterprising 15 in taking Nelson to within 18 runs of their target.