ELLIOT HOOPER grabbed five wickets in his first appearance of the year as Hastings Priory climbed off the bottom of the Sussex Cricket League premier.

Hastings powered to an 87-run victory at home to fellow strugglers Ifield – completing the league double for only their second win of the campaign.

Hastings made 240-9 with in-form Joe Billings (59) and Jake Woolley (60) leading the scoring as Dan Smith took 4-63.

Spinner Hooper then set about the visiting batting to claim 5-63 as Ifield fell for 153 all out with Paul Clifford (39) their top scorer.

Hastings captain Tom Gillespie admitted it was a big win for his side.

He told The Argus: “We definitely felt like we needed that win with them being down there with us and going into some important fixtures.

“It was an important win and also good to have some players back available.”

Player availability has been an issue for Hastings all season but Gillespie is hoping that situation will improve.

He said: “Our overseas player got injured in the first game, so he hasn’t played at all.

“He’s a bowler and he has been playing as a batsman in our seconds.

“Elliot Hooper got a five-for on Saturday after he came back but he has been working at a private school in Wiltshire.

“He will be here for the last nine matches now and that’s a massive help for us.

“We got ourselves into good positions in a few games – like when we lost to Horsham on the last ball, had Eastbourne 80-6 and when we lost at home to Brighton – but I feel that if we’d had Elliot we probably could have won two out of three of them.

“Having him now will give the whole side a lift.”

Gillespie is now looking up the table after a disappointing first half of the campaign.

He said: “We played quite poorly in the first part of the season, and missing players doesn’t help, but I don’t think we did ourselves justice.

“Saturday was the first step and this Saturday we have another massive game against Middleton, who have themselves a good overseas player, so that will be a tough game.

“They beat us twice last year but we shall go into it with a bit more confidence now and if we can get onto a little run, then you know if you can win two or three on the bounce then you will make some decent strides.

“If we had lost on Saturday we would have probably felt really up against it but now we can hopefully move on.”

It was home wins all the way in the rest of the division.

Leaders Roffey strode to maximum points and an eight-wicket victory over Middleton to open their advantage at the top.

Middleton’s Indian overseas star Mahesh Rawat hit 116 not out in their 233 all out as Sussex’s Stuart Whittingham bagged 4-91. Roffey eased home with Ben Manenti (50), Jibran Khan (100 not out) and Rohit Jagota (86 not out) leading the way.

Brighton and Hove are second after a thrilling one-run win against Cuckfield at the Nevill.

Steven Crosby made 86 not out as the ‘Bensons’ posted 257-7 and the visitors came up just short after Sam Whiteman (87) and Chris Mole (51 not out) got them to the brink of victory. Simon Hetherton (4-49) and Matt Machan (4-87) were the best bowlers.

Horsham did not have their all-star line-up of the previous week due to Sussex’s T20 commitments but they beat East Grinstead, who started the day in second spot, by 128 runs.

Tom Johnson (124) and skipper skipper Michael Thornely (69) led Horsham to 324-5 before Joe Ashmore (4-47) did the damage with the ball as Grinstead were dismissed for 196 (Fynn Hudson-Prentice 42).

Eastbourne beat Preston Nomads by 89 runs after making 259-6 after Ben Twine (101) anchored the innings. Jacob Smith grabbed 6-58 as Nomads were dismissed for 170.