A BRILLIANT spell from Nick Rivett set Oxford Downs on the way to inflicting a first defeat of the season on Henley.

The four-wicket victory against the former leaders put Tom Costley’s side in a great position to claim a top-four place heading into this weekend’s final round of matches.

Henley were put into bat in tricky conditions and lost opener Matthew Rowe without scoring, caught by Costley off Lawrence Brock’s bowling.

They appeared to have recovered, but Rivett’s introduction proved crucial.

He took four quick wickets to leave the visitors reeling on 49-5, on the way to returning impressive figures of 5-19 from seven overs.

Richard Morris (42) offered some resistance, but Henley slumped to 119 all out.

Freddie Smith’s 41 from 40 balls at the start of Downs’ reply put them in charge.

And Tom Cosford hit two sixes as they impressively romped home in just the 27th over to claim an impressive result.

Horspath boosted their chances of reaching the play-offs by recording a fourth straight win as they effectively ended Oxford’s hopes with a nine-run victory on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method at Jordan Hill.

With the match reduced to a 30-over contest following a delayed start after overnight rain, Horspath posted 128-8 after being put in to bat on a damp pitch which gave the bowlers plenty of assistance.

Harrison Ward made 39 off 48 balls with two sixes, but wickets fell at regular intervals as Oxford, with Dylan Swanepoel (3-18) to the fore, pegged the visitors back.

Oxford had reached 17-1 off 6.1 overs when a rain break saw their target revised to 100 from 21 overs on DLS.

Will Eason struck a crucial blow soon after the resumption when he bowled Jamie Perkin for 12 with the ball rebounding off the Oxford captain on to the stumps.

With off-spinner Alfie Turner taking 3-22, including the important wicket of George Tait, the run rate gradually increased.

Oxford required 15 to win off the last over, but Angus Livingstone conceded just five runs as the hosts fell short on 90-6 with opener Elliot Mathews unbeaten on 29.

Rising star James Coles was the top performer with bat and ball as Aston Rowant beat hosts Banbury by five wickets.

The result saw the visitors leapfrog their out-of-form opponents and move into a play-off spot with one match of the regular season remaining.

Teenager Coles had spent the previous weekend with Sussex, but returned to his club side with a bang.

Rowant won the toss and put Banbury in, which proved a good decision.

Coles removed opener Joe White and Lloyd Sabin as the home side stumbled to 26-4.

Olly Clarke and Edward Phillips steadied the innings by putting on 44 for the fifth wicket.

But scoring proved difficult, with Wes Morrick the most miserly of a disciplined attack, conceding just 12 runs from his eight overs.

Coles had the best figures, though, taking 4-18 as Banbury limped to 118-9 from their 40 overs.

Rowant lost George Reid, trapped leg before, without scoring.

But fellow opener Coles hit 32 in a 53-run stand for the second wicket with Josh Smith.

James Fitzjohn chipped in with a useful contribution to keep Rowant in control, as they reached their target with 12 overs to spare.

Thame Town are still firmly in the mix to finish in the top four after a comfortable victory at Great Brickhill.

Olliver Ebsworth-Burland’s patient 60 provided the lynchpin to their innings, helping to dig the visitors out of a hole at 11-3.

He found support from Hassam Mushtaq (39), as they put on 70 together, while Andrew Russell added late impetus as Thame reached 178-7.

Great Brickhill also lost wickets early in their reply, stuttering to 40-4 as Will Rooney (4-16) did the damage.

Marcus Critchley (32) was Brickhill’s top-scorer, but they were well behind when the game finished with the hosts on 93-7 from 26 overs.