OXFORDSHIRE kept their NCCA Championship hopes alive with a 254-run win over Dorset at Banbury CC.

Olly Clarke took 7/78 to bowl the visitors out for 254 in their second innings after Jonny Cater hit an unbeaten 110, having struck 71 on day one.

It extended Oxon’s lead at the top of Western Division 1 to 28 points, with second-placed Berkshire’s game at Cheshire ongoing and heading for a draw.

Rupert Evans’ side have now completed their fixtures and will need Herefordshire to get a result against Berkshire in the last round of group games to reach the final.

Oxon won the toss and wasted no time in setting a competitive first-innings score of 326/9.

An opening stand of 75 from Jamie Harrison (41) and Harry Smith (55) got the ball rolling, with Cater arriving at the crease at 150/4.

He shared another 75-run partnership with Tom Hinley as he passed 50, before George Tait chipped in with a useful 46 to help Oxon towards 300.

Cater eventually fell for 71 off 106 balls, with Prav Chahal and Robbie Shurmer adding a few more runs as the hosts reached their allotted 90 overs shortly after 6pm.

Dorset had to see out the last hour of the day but Oxon had other ideas, reducing the visitors to 51/4 before the close. Tait took two wickets, with one each for Luke Charlesworth and Shurmer.

Oli Soames (24) and David Scott (20) did their best to get the innings back on track, only for Shurmer to trap the latter lbw and spark a collapse that saw the final six wickets fall for just 15 runs.

Clarke (3/29) and Tait (4/21) ripped through the lower order as Dorset were skittled for 99, leaving Oxon with a healthy lead of 227.

The hosts began their second innings just before lunch and again moved fast to cement their position.

Harrison (41) and Smith (9) put on 50 for the first wicket, with Clarke (28) and Hinley (36) also contributing.

But captain Cater stole the show again, smashing an 85-ball century on his way to an unbeaten 110 that included seven sixes and five fours.

Oxon declared on 281/7 at 5pm on day two, giving them a lead of more than 500 and almost four sessions to bowl Dorset out.

Shurmer removed William Tripcony (3) and Luke Webb (15) early, with Clarke having Soames caught by Freddie Smith for 22 as the visitors closed on 128/3.

Sam Young (68) and Scott (38) stuck around for a bit, but when Oxon reached midday with both back in the pavilion there was only going to be one result.

Clarke took the final five wickets of the innings on his way to match figures of 10/107 as the defending champions gave themselves a fighting chance of reaching the final.