Peterborough Town skipper Lewis Bruce admits Rushden would be worthy Northants Premier Division champions.
Bruce is not conceding the title just yet, but the unbeaten leaders would have to suffer a darmatic blow-up to enable Town to bridge a 35-point gap in the final four matches of the seas0n.
Town did gain five points on their rivals last weekend when demolishing lowly Horton House by a whopping 202 runs, but Rushden came through their toughest remaining fixture against third-placed Finedon relatively unscathed, after winning by six wickets.
Town host Rushton at Bretton Gate this Saturday (noon), while Rushden have an easy-looking game at a Geddington side in freefall.
Bruce said: “Rushden have beaten us twice and Finedon twice and it would be a remarkable achievement if they stay unbeaten all season.
“We will keep trying to get maximum points in the hope that Rushden slip up twice, but it’s unlikely they will do that. They have to go to Oundle which can be tricky, but they’ve done all the hard work now.”
Bruce gained some personal satisfaction by scoring a Premier Division career-best 124 in the big win over next-to-bottom Horton.
He completely dominated an opening stand of 125 with David Clarke (33) before supporting Asim Butt (52) in a second-wicket stand of 87.
Bruce cracked 20 fours and a six in an innings that came at a run-a-ball pace as Town piled up 250-4 in 50 overs.
Horton’s rather pathetic response of 48 all out occupied just 18 overs with Joe Dawborn (5-24), Kieran Jones (3-3) and Jamie Smith (2-11) sharing the wickets.
There was even a first bowling workout of the season for England Under 17 pace bowler David Sayer.
Sayer has been out of action for most of the summer with a back injury and can expect to bowl a few more overs on the seamer-friendly Bretton Gate surface against a Rushton side who knocked Town out of the Northants Twenty/20 competition this summer.
Top order batsman Tim Young returns to the side with Stuart Williams dropping down to the seconds.
“Rushton are a good side,” Bruce added. “We’ve had a few games full of needle with them in the past, but those days are behind both teams.
“The Twenty/20 game between this season was a thriller which went down to the last ball and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s another close game this weekend.”