South Wilts need a massive favour from Lymington on Saturday if the coveted ECB British Gas Southern League championship trophy is to spend the winter in their Bemerton clubhouse.

A seven-wicket defeat by arch rivals Havant has swung the title race dramatically in favour of the defending 2016 champions.

“Its largely out of our hands now,” confessed a disappointed South Wilts skipper James Hibberd.

“We’ve got to get a maximum 22-point haul from our visit to St Cross Symondians and hope Havant slip up at Lymington, who are now out of the hunt.

“Basically, an 18-point win would give Havant a second consecutive league title.”

Stuart Ransley hit a chanceless unbeaten century to steer Havant to a seven-wicket win over South Wilts – and to within sight of a second consecutive championship.

He hit 103 not out and shared an unbroken century stand with Rob Gibson as Havant successful chased down South Wilts’ 197-7 to win with four overs to spare.

The victory put Havant in the box seat to win the Premier Division title for the second year running.

In the end, Havant achieved a comfortable victory – but when they lost two quick wickets to Luke Evans (2-27) and slipped to 85-3 the game was in the balance.

“It became very difficult at that point, the going became tough and it became mentally draining,” Ransley confessed.

“But Gibbo (Rob Gibson) helped me through it and together we put together the century partnership we needed to win the game.

”It was a case of getting our respective heads down and batting properly, which we did.

“Now we’re in the driving seat to win the title again, but unless we win at Lymington what we achieved against South Wilts will count for nothing.”

South Wilts 197-7 was based around a century third-wicket stand between Ian Holland and James Hayward – openers Tom Cowley and Will Wade having gone cheaply.

The pair added 114, but neither Hampshire’s Holland, who made 84, nor a tiring Hayward (60), was able to penetrate the boundary rope too often.

Holland batted carefully, hitting only five fours, while Hayward only introduced his trademark slog/sweep shots late in his season’s best knock.

James Hibberd hit 19 before becoming one of three simple stumping victims for Jez Bulled off spin pair Steve Matthews and Chris Morgan.

Hibberd’s tea-time thoughts: “We thought 197 was a very decent total and chatting to Ben (Walker) after the game he thought the same.

“Stu played a great knock on a tough wicket, fair play to him and Havant were the better side on the day.”

Havant lost Andy Gorvin at the start of their reply, but Ben Walker and Ransley steadied the ship.

Walker (34) was going nicely when he feathered one behind off Evans and when Chris Stone was trapped leg before by the Sholing youngster at 85-3 South Wilts were back in the game.

Jack Mynott’s spin came under fire as Ransley brought up his own half-century as the Havant total ticked into treble figures in the 31st over.

Ransley, whose previous SPL century was against the Academy earlier this season, played some eye-catching shots off his legs and alongside Gibson worked hard for his runs.

Hibberd, desperate for a breakthrough, tossed his spin men the ball – and immediately conceded 40 runs.

Ransley filled his boots, hoisting two big sixes over long-on and before too long was celebrating a creditable hundred, which altogether contained five maximums and seven fours.

Gibson shared the moment, scoring his first 50 of the summer as Havant clinched a victory that should ensure the trophy remain in PO-territory.

Hibberd, who used nine different bowlers, reflected: “We have used several options during the season and all of our out fielders are capable of bowling, we needed a wicket at the end but we just couldn’t get the breakthrough.

“Our bowlers have been fantastic this season but we weren’t at the races and against a side like Havant you won’t get away with it.”