The two title contenders came head to head in division three of the Braintree Table Tennis League – and for the second time this season finished all square.
There was no Derek Kennard in the Netts E line-up this time, but Clive Forster, Tony Smith and Peter Lewis is still a formidable combination.
Rayne F had Brian How, who did not play last time, plus Dave Allinson and Tim Gowers, and things looks rosy when How began the evening by beating the previously undefeated Forster 11-8, 5-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-4.
Allinson’s win over Smith at 11-7 in the fifth game made it 2-0, but then things took a turn for the worse for Rayne as Netts took the next four sets, including a surprise defeat for How, beaten only twice before, by Peter Lewis.
Allinson lost to Forster during that spell but later put Rayne back on the road with a victory over Lewis.
In the end How and Allinson won twice for Rayne and Forster and Lewis twice for Netts.
The doubles, so often decisive in tight matches, went to How and Gowers 11-8 in the fifth game.
Black Notley I moved level with Rayne F, albeit from one more match, with a 6-4 win over Netts’ F team.
Mia Charles won twice for Netts but lost out in the battle of the juniors to Elliot Game, who won all three for Notley.
Notley F are back in second place after a 10-0 win over Rayne I.
At the other end of the age scale, Ian Rubens was in excellent form, leading Rayne H to a 7-3 win over their G team by taking his three singles and the doubles with Chris High, who won twice.
Notley H called up Mike Smith from the I team and he obliged by winning their one singles in the 9-1 defeat to their own G team. Matt Brooks and Jim Davy were unbeaten for the G team.
In division one Liberal A moved a point closer to Rayne A at the top after a 9-1 win over Netts C, where James Mullane’s win over Peter Hayden was the one that eluded them.
Rayne A had a close tussle with their own B team before emerging 8-2 better off.
The B team’s Ryan Pitt and Hector Rogers will be pleased with their wins over Adam Buxton and Matthew Brown respectively. Steve Pennell was undefeated for the A team.
Netts A might have expected better against Liberal B, the team one place below them, when their opposition turned up with only two players. But three singles from Adrian Pitt, one from Robin Armstrong plus the doubles ensured that they shared the points.
Netts B climbed back above their A team with a 9-1 win over Rayne C, for whom Dean Andrews, in his first match of the season, won the one.
The division’s intra-Notley contest ended in favour of the A team by the same score.
Dave Parker came back from two games to love down to beat Chris Parr and register the B team’s only success.