EXMOUTH are top of the Premier Division after beating Exeter by four wickets – and skipper Richard Baggs intends to stay there.
It's Plymouth away for Exmouth this Saturday with a 13-point lead over Bovey Tracey, who surprisingly lost by two wickets to Torquay last Saturday. Sidmouth are only five points behind and still in it.
Baggs wants Exmouth's first title since 1999 this season, preferably with time to spare.
"We have four massive games to go and can't afford any slips," said Baggs. "I don't want it to go to last game, with us needing too many points.
"Sidmouth still have to play Bovey, which is good for us as one of them will lose."
Exeter were all out for 198 with 10 balls to go – a poor total as they were 105 for one halfway in to their 50 overs.
Blake Reed went for a duck in the third over, but Andrew Curtis (49) and skipper Rob Holman (88) made a decent job of getting on with it.
When Curtis went, caught behind to Gary Chappell (3-23), Exeter were 105 for two. Ben Green and Matt Hicks went cheaply as 105 for two deteriorated to 122 for four.
Holman kept going and stands of 34 with Tom Viljoen and 31 with Shaun Morris got the score up to 187 for five. It then went pear-shaped as the last five wickets went for just 11 runs as Chappell and Anning (3-31) mopped up.
Exmouth were handed a 74-run start by Sandy Allen (77) and Chris Metters (22) and never looked back for long.
There was a brief wobble when Allen and Seb Benton fell in successive balls to Merryck Steward (2-30), but David Lye made 58 and the game was won when he went at 168 for five.
Andy Buzza (12) and Anning (16no) knocked off most of the rest as Exmouth opened up a 13-point lead at the top.
"A bit too often this season we have been 120 for one or two and not kicked on as we should," said Exeter skipper Holman. "We aren't scoring enough runs and no matter how well we bowl, that is putting us under pressure. Having said that, this is our first season back in the Premier Division and our priority was just to stay there.
"We are top five now and if we can stay there – which we are capable of – we will have exceeded our expectations for the season."
Exeter go to Sidmouth this Saturday, which won't be easy after the defending champions won by three wickets at North Devon last time out.
Sid were the last team to beat North Devon, and they did it again thanks to a match-winning 80 not out from Luke Bess, who hauled Sidmouth round at 100 for four chasing 248 to win.
It was a close-run thing though with just three balls left when Bess sealed it.
Josh Bess (2-51) and Will Murray accounted for Barney Huxtable, Rob Gear and dangerman Glenn Querl, before Craig Overton (58) was bowled by spinner Charlie Miles (3-49).
Sidmouth had a terrible start when in-form opener Liam Lewis was lbw to Matt Westaway in the first over. Matt Cooke (27), Anthony Griffiths (20) and Josh Bess (31) got out as Sidmouth started slipping, but Pete Randerson upped the tempo with 46 off 47 balls.
He was fifth out at 151, leaving Sidmouth needing 97 to win in 11.3 overs.
Luke Bess got on with it with 80 off 56 balls and put on 40 with Nick Gingell to chip away at the deficit. Gingell was bowled by Matt Curtis, with 57 to go, but Bess got most of them while Scott Barlow propped up the other end for six.
Bovey Tracey will want to get back on track at home to Budleigh Salterton after the slip up at Torquay.
When Torquay dipped from 133 for none to 179 for six chasing 231 to win, an away win looked the most likely result.
Matt Golding top scored for Bovey with 68 in a total of 230 for nine. Along the way he shared stands of 44 with Andy Fairbairn and 51 with James Fulner (23).
As Torquay set off in hot pursuit, a burst of wickets from Chris Bradley (4-48) and Golding slowed them until Mickey Wilkinson (59) took charge.
Bovey will find Budleigh reinvigorated by their 45-run win over Plymouth, which fuelled hopes of dodging relegation.
Budleigh made 301 for five in 50 overs –Matt Kidd belting 65 off 268 balls after James Burke (49), Jack Dart (53) and Seb Langridge (58) made runs. Plymouth were all out for 255 in reply.
Budleigh are still bottom, but the 25 points between them and safety looks bridgeable.
"We are still in there swinging and the teams above us – Bradninch and Cornwood – will look behind them and feel us putting pressure on them," said Budleigh skipper Joel Murphy.
"I felt at tea we had enough – and also knew Plymouth would have a go for it as they are that sort of side.
"Having batted superbly – Seb Langridge played his best innings yet for us and Matt Kidd's hitting was awesome – we backed it up with a great performance in the field.
"I was really pleased for players like Matt Plowman, who haven't had any luck at all this season. His three for 36 will have done him the world of good.
"Our run in won't be easy, but there isn't a game we can't win and that means we have a chance."
Burke made the early runs for Budleigh before Langridge and Dart took over. Kiwi Langridge played an anchorman role for 77 balls, allowing Dart and later Kidd to get on with it.
Dart's maiden Premier half-century came of 45 balls and included two sixes and seven fours – one an audacious reverse sweep off pacer Dave Burke.
Kidd hit five sixes and six fours as Budleigh added 90 runs in the last seven overs.
Plymouth could only put on 255 as Plowman (3-36), Murphy (3-53) and James Burke (2-44) did the damage.
Bradninch host North Devon with the pressure on, having dropped into the bottom two after losing by 11 runs to Cornwood.
Chasing 238 to win, Bradninch were cruising at 213 for five, only to lose five wickets for 13 runs as Cornwood overtook them in the table to leave Bradninch in trouble.