If there was any doubt that Sible Hedingham would retain their first division status in the Braintree Table Tennis League, it was dispelled in emphatic fashion when they thumped their closest rivals 9-1.
In their last stay in the top division, Hedingham finished bottom in three consecutive years, escaping relegation in the first two only by teams dropping out above them.
They finally went down in 2014 but bounced back immediately and have been picking up sufficient points this season to suggest that their stay this time might be a longer one.
But they only had one win to show for it and were a point behind Rayne C, who they beat first time round, when the two met for the second time.
This time Hedingham were in no mood to take prisoners and took all but one of the sets available.
Richard Jennings and Roy Hooper were unbeaten and Mark Brown took two.
The major surprise was that it was Nick Hasler and not Keith Martin who beat Brown.
Martin has been Rayne C’s main point scorer this season, with 15 wins behind him. Hasler, who played in division three last season on his return after a long break from the game, had won only once, but got past Brown in four games.
At the other end of the table, the top two both drew to ensure the race for the title continues to boil nicely.
Peter Hayden’s presence in the Liberal A side has been enough to guarantee victory so far this season, even as he nurses his long-term wrist injury.
Not so against Rayne A, where both John Andrews and Steve Pennell dispatched him in five games.
Andrews and Pennell both won twice as did Simon Webber and Scott Dowsett for Liberal.
Paul Davison’s customary three singles and the doubles were not quite enough to see Netts A over the line against Rayne B.
James Mullane beat Peter Hance, but Hance, Ryan Pitt and Lee McHugh took the rest.
Netts C turned out a two-person team for the sixth time this season but it was enough to sink Rayne D 6-4. Andy Holmes was unbeaten while Maria Boulton lost to Adam Buxton.
Black Notley B were the big winners in division two, 10-0 over Felsted RBL B.
Leaders Notley C tiptoed over the line 6-4 against Hedingham Lions, for whom Adam Purslow won two and Steve Willis one.
Nomads took advantage of a weakened Rayne F team to beat them 8-2 while Rayne E went one better against Notley D where Keith Flowers’ win over Steve Siggs was the only one to get away.
One-time leaders Notley E tumbled to their second defeat of the season in division three. Hannah Pitt missed her first match of the season – she was delayed at work – and Notley F took advantage of her absence to record a 6-4 victory in which Vernon King was unbeaten.
At the other end of the table, Netts D can celebrate their first win over a full team.
Their previous two wins had come when the opposition was one short, but Rayne I had three players and in Peter Hardy Netts had a matchwinner. He won his three singles and partnered Peter Lewis to a doubles win to give his side a 6-4 win.
The fixture chart pitted the G and H teams together at both Notley and Rayne, and in both cases honours were shared.