CHRISTCHURCH’S Ben Francis played a pivotal role as they strengthened their grip on second place in Dorset Division One.

The all-rounder claimed four wickets and hit 27 as the Hurn Bridge side overcame Broadstone II at The Delph.

Francis did a fine job in mopping up the lower order as Christchurch bowled out the hosts for 181.

There were also wickets for Henry Hayes (3-18), Liam Bowater (2-18) and Jack Salter (1-19).

In reply, Francis and Salter put on an opening stand of 54 before the former was run out.

James McMurray (32*) helped guide the visitors to a four-wicket triumph with James Cross (39) top scoring.

Christchurch are 26 points adrift of leaders Hamworthy Recreation and 15 ahead of third-placed Cerne Valley.

They host bottom side Poole Town II on Saturday (1.30pm).

Meanwhile, Jack Rowett’s five wickets helped Parley boost their Hampshire Division One title hopes in a nail-biting one-wicket win over Alton II.

Rowett impressed to record match figures of five for 32 as the hosts dismissed their opposition for 127 in just more than 30 overs.

Parley could have chased a miniscule total had Alton’s Daniel Trim (47) not starred at number eight for the visitors.

But the drama did not stop there as Parley were pushed to the wire in their run chase.

Despite earlier contributions from Sam Collins (34) and Roshan Embalagama (27), the visitors went from 108 for three to 126 for nine.

It was left to final pair Jamie Hicks and David Elrick to ensure victory was secured.

The hosts’ success, coupled with leaders Hythe & Dibden losing at Andover, means Parley are less than a point behind on average in the race for the title.