Settle defended just 130 to win at Brinscall on Saturday as leaders Little Lever claimed a seventh straight success in the Anthony Axford North West Cricket League’s Premiership with victory at Farnworth Social Circle, writes Graham Hardcastle.

Settle have had a mixed start to 2023 following four successive Ribblesdale League titles.

But they showed champion quality to win by 25 runs after hosts Brinscall had bowled them out for 129 (Jon Hinrichsen, 4-28).

Sri Lankan professional Ashen Silva, who had earlier joint top-scored with 28, claimed three wickets in a successful defence also featuring Archie Phillipson’s excellent 3-18 in Brinscall’s 104.

Settle’s third win from seven places them 11th, though they will have loftier ambitions than just a top-12 finish ahead of next season’s divisional split.

Winning another title, however, will be tough given Little Lever’s magnificent winning streak. They reeled in a 226 target to beat Social Circle by six wickets as pro Jake Lehmann hit an unbeaten 64-ball 89.

Indian overseas amateur Nipun Gaikwad also continued his impressive form with three wickets and 70 opening the batting.

Farnworth also lost at home to second-placed Ribblesdale Wanderers, who chased 215 to win by seven wickets. Wanderers (70 points, six wins) are eight points off top spot.

Josh Greeff had a day out with a new ball 4-63 as Farnworth were bowled out for 215 and then 50 chasing. He shared an unbroken 131 for the fourth wicket with Indian pro Anuj Jotin (88 not out).

Third-placed Salesbury also won at Blackrod by two wickets chasing 131. Oliver Wetton claimed four wickets before ninth-wicket pair Callum Boardman and Harvey Vause squeezed the visitors home.

Eagley are up to fourth thanks to a four-wicket win at Tonge - 187 all out.

South African amateur Rupert Holmes hit a fabulous 100 for Tonge, who were undone by Pakistani pro Ayaz Tasawar’s all-round heroics - 4-60 and 99 not out. He calmly recovered Eagley from 12-4.

Kearsley won our featured match at Whalley, while Earby beat bottom side Walkden (173 all out) at home by five wickets. Earby’s Adam Hodge claimed three wickets and hit a middle order 39.

Astley Bridge and Oswaldtwistle Immanuel were also mid-table victors.

Bridge beat Barnoldswick at home by 98 runs. Rick Northrop (76) and South African pro Lesiba Ngoepe (70) underpinned 250-8 before the latter added three late wickets as the visitors were bowled out for 152. Haaris Akhtar impressed with 3-35 up front.

Pro Brad Boddie’s stunning all-round display led Oswaldtwistle to a five-wicket home success over Lostock (151 all out).

Boddie claimed 7-36 with the new ball before anchoring the chase with a patient unbeaten 67.

Padiham and Cherry Tree are into the top 10 after home wins over Read and Feniscowles.

Padiham pro Jack Edgar followed Boddie’s lead. His 97 as opener was the feature of 245-8 before claiming 5-67 in Read’s 196 all out.

Cherry Tree recovered from 72-7 chasing 153 against neighbours Feniscowles, Joseph Littler hitting 45 not out from number nine in a two-wicket win.

Third-bottom Atherton’s first win came at home to second-bottom Baxenden.

Opener Nathan Rushton and Jack Welch hit fifties in 199-8 before Rowan Shelton took the new ball and claimed 6-38 as Baxenden replied with 120.