THE rain failed to dampen Farnworth Social Circle’s title charge as the table toppers just managed to scrape together the required number of overs to force a victory on run rate at home to Little Lever.
Their closest challengers were not so lucky, as second-placed Bradshaw’s match at Westhoughton was abandoned due to the weather, while Eagley’s match at home to Astley Bridge and Egerton’s game against Walkden were also washed out with no result.
Elsewhere, Farnworth and Greenmount were able to force results and Heaton beat Horwich via run rate.
Opener Dave Tonge hit 70 and Chris Barrow rattled off 46 runs as Social Circle were bowled out for 193 by Little Lever.
The wickets were shared between pro Kamran Younis (5-56) and Craig Mann (4-54) as the league leaders were dismissed with four overs to spare.
But Liam Bones (3-21) and Dave Mather (2-10) had Little Lever reeling at 52-7 when the heavens opened and no further play was possible.
The rules state both sides must complete 25 overs for a result to be called and, as Little Lever had faced 25.4 overs, Social Circle were handed the points due to their superior run rate.
Fourth-placed Westhoughton were unlucky not to claim victory at home to Bradshaw after putting on 219-4 and reducing the visitors to 31-4 before the match was abandoned.
Bradshaw had only faced 15.3 overs when rain stopped play, largely due to a delay during the Westhoughton innings when their star batsman, Atiq Uz-Zaman, suffered a back injury and was forced to retire.
The home pro Qaiser Abbas went on to make 107 not out, but his efforts eventually proved fruitless.
Third-placed Farnworth reduced the gap to Bradshaw to six points following their six-wicket win at home to Tonge.
A sixth-wicket partnership of 127 between Yousaf Anwar (83) and Zeeshan Mirza (50) helped Tonge set a competitive target of 230-7.
Farnworth pro Carl Raubenheimer did his best to stem the flow of runs, taking 4-57.
That proved crucial as, following a rain break, the home side made it past a revised target of 129 from 29 overs with an over to spare.
The key contributors in Farnworth’s total of 132-4 were Chris Baxendale, who hit 58 not out, and captain Simon Booth, who made 41.
Greenmount consolidated their fifth position in the table thanks to an imperious batting display from captain Andy Kerr and Ryan Senior.
Kerr put on 120 while Senior made an unbeaten 109 as Greenmount posted a daunting total of 306-4 from their 50 overs.
In reply, Kearsley were on 122-4 from 26 overs when rain stopped play and the home side claimed the points on run rate.
Heaton followed up their shock Hamer Cup semi-final victory over Horwich last weekend with another home win against the same opponents, this time via run rate.
The points seemed far from assured after visiting pro Babar Naeem took 5-58 to help bowl Heaton out for 189.
Three home batsmen made it into the thirties, pro Humayun Farhat top scoring with 33, closely followed by Sandeep Varsani on 32 and Oliver Sutcliffe on 30 Horwich never looked like getting near their target, however, and were 77-6 from 26 overs when play was abandoned. Imran Mirza was their tormentor in chief, taking 4-34.
Bottom side Eagley scraped two points after their match at home to Astley Bridge was abandoned with the visitors three balls into their 25th over.
They were left stranded on 125-1 in reply to Eagley’s 180 all out, one run short of the home side’s halfway total, which, if they had surpassed that despite not completing their required overs, would have earned them victory.
Astley Bridge bowlers Dave Cryer (5-50) and Steve Shepley (4-25) looked like they had set up victory, although 15-year-old Eagley batsman Will Shuttleworth showed maturity beyond his years to make 44.
Nigel Partington then made 49 for the visitors, who had Andy Northrop (31no) and Syd De Silva (17no) well set when the rain came.
In Saturday’s other match, Honey Garg top scored for Walkden as they made 162-8, with Egerton’s Will Halton taking 5-69 and Amal Dalugoda 3-40.
But the match was abandoned as rain stopped play with Egerton on 53-3 after facing 17.2 overs.