WARINGSTOWN can take a huge stride to the Premier League title with victory over second place North Down, after seeing off the spirited challenge of Woodvale.

Victory for the Villagers in today’s rearranged 20-over game would open up a 12-point gap at the top of the table with the Comber side, who lost the Challenge Cup final on Friday to CIYMS by 127 runs, having just five games left.

Woodvale have exceeded expectations this year and they ensured Waringstown had to pull out the big guns to get over the line by 16 runs, after the home side had been set a revised target of 166 in 40 overs.

Ruhan Pretorius, a former professional at The Lawn, who had hit 141 off 64 balls on Thursday night in a 20-over game against Carrickfergus, almost took his side home but, having hit James Mitchell for six to reduce the target to 24 from seven balls, the bowler, who had hit 15 off just five balls at the end of the Waringstown innings, had him caught behind next ball.

It looked as if Woodvale were always behind the clock with Graham Hume and Andre Malan bowling their 16 overs for just 29 runs – and taking two wickets apiece for good measure - but when the rain arrived just before halfway in their reply they were left to get 100 runs from 17 overs on the resumption.

Hume was bowled out and Malan had just one over left, but Kyle McCallan kept it tight and also took two wickets to heap all the pressure on Pretorius who, in contrast to his innings 48 hours earlier, had taken 74 balls to reach his 50.

In the end he hit eight fours and a six and faced 102 balls but the lack of support denied Woodvale a famous win.

On a damp, slow pitch, it was never easy to score runs and Woodvale certainly had the benefit of winning the toss, with openers Adam Dennison and Sam Topping, replacing the absent James McCollum, both dismissed in the first 19 balls.

Malan, inevitably, looked most at ease in the tricky conditions until, on 23, his defence was breached by Farhan Saeed. Hume, though, dug in and faced 80 balls for his 42 and stayed until the 43rd over when he holed out to long-on.

Waringstown failed to survive the 50 overs but before he lost his partner, Mitchell thumped the runs which ultimately won the match and sends them into today’s clash on a winning run of seven league games, unbeaten since they lost in the middle of June - to North Down.

With the cup finalists, as usual, having the day after the cup final off, the only other Premiership game was at Stormont where Civil Service North added to Lisburn’s streak of defeats with a 69 runs victory.

For the second consecutive game and the third time in five weeks, Stuart Thompson was dismisssed in the 90s, following innings of 93 and 97 with 92 yesterday, from 98 balls with six fours and four sixes.

Thompson shared a fourth wicket stand of 129 with his captain and former Ireland team-mate Gary Wilson which was ended by Josh Manley who hit the stumps for the fourth time in the innings.

CSN were bowled out 257 but such was the slow rate that Lisburn bowled their overs – they were five overs short when the stipulated time elapsed - they were gifted another 30 in penalty runs.

The best bowling figures and highest innings were still to come, however, with Lisburn professional Faiz Fazal scoring exactly 100, from 94 balls with 10 fours and three sixes, before he was the fourth victim of Ben Mackey who finished with five for 61.

Lisburn are now stranded 12 points adrift at the bottom of the table but there is no relegation this year so their place in next year’s 10-team Premier League is assured.

The battle for promotion, however, is intensifying with three teams battling it out for the two places. It looked as if Derriaghy, after winning their first 12 games were certainties, but they have lost their last two – the latest to Cregagh yesterday - and they have been joined at the top by Cliftonville Academy, who beat Ballymena, with Cregagh now just four points behind. All three teams have four games left.

Carrickfergus were due to play CIYMS yesterday but it gave them a day off to prepare for today’s All-Ireland T20 Cup semi-final against Brigade at Middle Road (1pm).

The final is scheduled for next Sunday with Cork Harlequins awaiting the winners after their surprise victory over Merrion in the first semi-final – the first time a Munster side has reached the All-Ireland showdown.