Hunts Under 25s opened their East of England Development Competition challenge by sinking the reigning champions.

The locals triumphed by 23 runs against Essex at Southend in a high-scoring Friday clash - despite fielding five Under 17 players and one member of their Under 14 squad!

Top-scorer Alex Marsh (76) and Jamie Vale (32) starred in an impressive opening stand of 126 as Hunts piled up the runs after opting to bat.

A solid 37 from Jonny Carpenter and an unbeaten 31 by Dan Wood helped them post a useful 240-6.

A couple of quick breakthroughs from Hunts' opening bowler Joe Watling reduced Essex to 13-2 and they remained in trouble at 67-5.

Dan Ironside kept the hosts in the contest with a classy 84 before falling to the spin of skipper Carpenter, who also sealed victory when getting rid of Nabeel Aziz (44) for the final wicket.

Fellow spinner Josh Smith was the pick of the Hunts men with the ball, returning figures of 3-45.

Hunts are back in action on August 3 when they entertain Norfolk at Waresley.

EAST OF ENGLAND DEVELOPMENT COMPETITION

Essex Under 25s lost to Hunts Under 25s by 23 runs

Hunts 240-6 (A. Marsh 76, J. Carpenter 37, J. Vale 32, D. Wood 31no).

Essex 217 (J. Smith 3-45, J. Watling 2-19, J. Carpenter 2-24).