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Defending champions on verge of quarter finals

A half century from James Vince helped the Hampshire Royals seal a nine run Duckworth Lewis victory over the Essex Eagles to all but guarantee themselves a place in the Friends Life t20 quarters finals.

The Royals were indented to Vince (55) who scored a vital half century to rescue the defending champions after a lacklustre batting display had looked to have put the Eagles on top at the Rose Bowl.

With Jimmy Adams (1), Neil McKenzie (0) and Shahid Afridi (4) failing to fire, it was left to Vince and Sean Ervine (45) to lead the hosts recovery with a 4th wicket stand of 84 after they had been reduced to just 32-3.

Tim Southee (3-30) led the Eagles attack but the partnership between Vince and Ervine was enough to put the Royals on top after they recorded a total of 151-7.

Having gained the momentum the Royals drove home their advantage with the ball thanks to Dimitri Mascarenhas (3-20) who ripped through the Eagles top order to leave the visitors 18-3 after just 2.2 overs.

Owais Shah (38) and Ravi Bopara (48) offered some signs of a fight back with a 4th wicket stand of 55 but with light rain starting to fall Danny Briggs struck in the 12th over to remove Shah before the players were forced off for a second time as the rain turned heavier.

After another delay of more than 20 minutes play finally got back under way but with a target of 56 more runs from just 30 deliveries the Royals held firm to record a vital victory after they restricted the Eagles to a total of 122-6.

The Royals quarter final place can be confirmed tomorrow night if the Surrey Lions lose at Lords against the lowly Middlesex Panthers while the Eagles hopes of qualifying for the knock out stages are now out of their hands with just two games remaining.

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