Staffordshire and Somerset remain unbeaten in Division Two of the Women's County Championship after both secured relatively comfortable victories over Essex and Wales respectively. Both are pulling away from their chasers as third-placed Devon slipped to their second defeat of their 2015 campaign at the hands of Ireland, by just seven runs. Worcestershire also lost their second game of the season, by the even narrower margin of two runs, to Durham. At the bottom of the league Scotland (who did not play this weekend) and Essex are both still winless.
Staffs and Somerset still have each other to play, of course (after being rained off at the beginning of the season). Staffs also have Devon, Essex and Worcestershire. Somerset have Scotland, Durham, Worcestershire and Wales still left to play.
Game 17 - Devon v Ireland
Ireland 165 all out (Kim Garth 54)
Devon 158 all out (Amara Carr 33)
Ireland won by 7 runs
Devon will be kicking themselves as this was a must-win game for them if they were going to keep up the pressure on the Staffs and Somerset. They had Ireland at 73/7 at one stage but a great rearguard action by Kim Garth who finished on 54 not out, allowed Ireland to get to 165 all out. It was to prove seven runs too many for Devon, who made a great start through Amara Carr (33) and Aylish Cranstone (22) as they added 66 for the first wicket, but from there on Devon lost wickets at regular intervals, with the last four batsmen being run out, with nine unused balls when the final wicket fell.
Game 18 - Durham v Worcestershire
Durham 133 all out (Catherine Chapman 31, Jo Greaves 3/24)
Worcestershire 131 all out (Lauren Rowles 44, Elysa Hubbard 4/20)
Durham won by 2 runs
Having bowled Durham out for just 133 Worcestershire were probably quite confident they could record their third win of the season, but Durham in the shape of Elysa Hubbard (4/20) and Rachel Petherick (3/19) had other ideas. Worcestershire were reduced to 89/8 and the game seemed gone, only for Lauren Rowles (44) to revive the Worcestershire innings. She and number 10 Emma Walters (4*) took Worcestershire tantalizingly to within three runs of victory, before Rowles was caught behind. Still Worcestershire had another wicket in hand, but despite surviving for several balls no more runs could be added before Durham snapped up the final wicket.
Game 19 - Essex v Somerset
Somerset 101 all out (Hannah Jeffery 3/6)
Essex 72 all out (Cordelia Griffith 22, Anya Shrubsole 4/18, Jenny Withers 3/12)
Somerset won by 29 runs
In another low-scoring game Somerset came out on top. They only just scraped past 100 themselves, bu then they bowled out opponents Essex for just 72, with only Cordelia Griffith (22) making double figures. It was Anya Shrubsole (4/18) that blew away the Essex top order, with Jenny Withers claiming the wicket of Griffith and two more, as Essex slipped to their fourth defeat in four games, following relegation from Div 1 last year.
Game 20 - Wales v Staffordshire
Wales 174/8 (Lauren Parfitt 30)
Staffordshire 175/5 (Molly Strano 47*, Evelyn Jones 40)
Staffordshire won by 5 wickets
Staffs maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a comfortable victory over Wales. Wales made steady if unspectacular progress throughout their innings with five batsmen getting into double figures, but none going on beyond 30. In reply Evelyn Jones and Charlotte Whyle opened up with a partnership of 70 before Jones was run out. There was a slight middle order wobble but Aussie Molly Strano (47*) continued her fine season holding the Staffs' innings together and getting them over the line with eight balls and five wickets to spare.