SOUTH Wilts begin the ‘back nine’ of their Southern League Premier Division fixtures at Burridge on Saturday 30 points clear at the top of the table – but there will be no complacency in the ranks when they face a side that has already beaten them this season.

“It’s a great position to be in at the half-way stage,” says all-rounder James Hayward.

“But we’ve seen already this season that this league is full of pitfalls, with about six of the ten sides very capable of beating each other.

“We were undercooked and didn’t play well when Burridge beat us at Bemerton in early May, but since then we’ve gone well in the Time matches and have won four of the five we’ve played.

“Past seasons have showed that the team that comes out on top in the all-day cricket often goes on to become champions, so we must ensure that’s us.”

South Wilts strengthened their top table standing with a 70-run win over Basingstoke & North Hants – a result which coincided with Bashley (Rydal) defending a meagre 102 and winning at champions Havant.

South Wilts’ powerful top order batting – they posted 290-6 – effectively put Basingstoke out of the running before Luke Evans weighed in with his second five-wicket haul of the season.

Former South Africa Under-19 captain Sibz Makhanya lit up the early evening sky with an elegant and unbeaten 111 as the visitors were bowled out for 220.

Tom Morton (45) and the in-form Jack Mynott (68) got South Wilts off to the desired start, while Tom Cowley (30) added useful runs before James Hayward took centre stage.

With runs on the board, Hayward didn’t disappoint, hitting 13 fours in an enterprising 84 before becoming the first of two Brad Neal run outs.

Ben Thane’s 53 steadied things at the start for Basingstoke, who had quickly lost Chris Froud and Max Harsham.

But it was the Dolphins’ all-rounder Makhanya who caught the eye in the post tea session, hitting a six and 13 fours in an unbeaten 111 which helped the visitors post 220.

As happens too often for their own liking, Basingstoke’s batting folded at the other end – Evans finishing with 5-42 and Hayward’s wicket brace including the scalp of former Hampshire and Kent cricketer David Griffiths, trapped leg before.

“I enjoyed that one,” Hayward laughed.

The seconds remain fourth in Division Three after a creditable 99-run win at Purbrook.

Jack Stearman (4-14) and Joe Weld (4-20) sent Purbrook crashing from 82-2 to 123 all out after SW had totalled 212.

Teenager Stearman earlier made 42 and along with Tom Berzins (38) and Rob Pittman (53) guided South Wilts to a winning score.