Surrey secured a place in the knockout stages of the NatWest T20 Blast with a five-run triumph over Gloucestershire at Cheltenham.
In a game where no batsman managed to register a half-century, Surrey relied on useful contributions from two likely suspects - Tillakaratne Dilshan (36) and Robin Peterson (23) - and one from a man better known for his exploits with the ball in hand, Jade Dernbach weighing in with 24 not out, to register 157-8.
Will Gidman ended Dilshan’s fun when he bowled the Sri Lankan in the eighth over, by which time he had already sent back Kevin Pietersen for 17. Benny Howell and Jack Taylor also picked up two wickets apiece for the hosts, who at one stage had Surrey 119-8 with just 19 balls remaining in the innings.
However Peterson and Dernbach, who hit three boundaries, put on 38 runs in an unbroken alliance that included taking 19 off the penultimate over bowled by David Payne.
Those late runs would prove crucial in the final reckoning, as Gloucestershire – already out of the running for a place in the quarter-finals - ended up just shy on 152-7.
Skipper Michael Klinger made 45 at the top of the order but Surrey’s plethora of spinners, led by Zafar Ansari, who claimed 3-27 from his four overs, kept the home team in check.
Matt Dunn – one of just two seamers used by the visitors, the other being Azhar Mahmood – dismissed the dangerous Howell for a breezy 29 and despite 27 not out from Hamish Marshall, the Gladiators fell just short.
Hard-hitting Jesse Ryder scored a quick-fire half-century to help Essex seal a home tie in the quarter-finals with a seven-wicket win over Glamorgan at Cardiff.
After winning the toss the in-form South Group leaders restricted the home side to 157-2 before knocking off the required runs with 12 balls to spare. It was a comprehensive defeat for the Welsh county who could yet need to beat Gloucestershire in their final game next week to make the last eight.
After being put in to bat on a slow pitch Glamorgan looked to have posted a useful total with Murray Goodwin (71) and Jacques Rudolph (60 not out) putting on 104 in 11.2 overs.
But Glamorgan were undone by the start from Ryder and fellow opener Mark Pettini, the pair reaching 73 from the opening 33 balls. Tom Westley (44) and Ravi Bopara (32 not out) then helped Essex get across the winning line.
Hampshire are also certain of qualifying from the South Division after they defeated Sussex by six runs, despite a superb century from Luke Wright at the Ageas Bowl.
The hosts made, opener Michael Carberry hitting an unbeaten 87 from 63 deliveries, sharing in a third-wicket stand worth 111 with Jimmy Adams, who contributed 52.
Sean Ervine added 32no from 14 balls, though Sussex came close to being successful in their run chase thanks to the efforts of Wright.
The England limited-overs international almost single-handedly saw the Sharks to glory, carrying his bat to make 116 not out out of a total of 171-8. He smashed 13 fours and four sixes, with the next best scorer being Chris Nash, with 28.
Somerset saw their hopes of finishing in the top four suffer a blow when they lost to Kent by 40 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis method, the game bizarrely ended early due to heavy winds at Canterbury.
Rob Key and Sam Northeast made 72 and 73 respectively in Kent's imposing 195-7 despite overseas import Dirk Nannes taking 3-30.
Somerset crashed to 34-5 as Darren Stevens took 4-17. Colin Ingram hit 37 not out but they away side had only reached 59-5, with the par score at 99, when the players were forced from the field before lightning quickly followed.