The 1sts clinched promotion from Division Nine of the Northants Cricket League with a comprehensive win over an under-strength Great Houghton 2nds.
Aside from a Kansas-style twister, an impending end of the world blackness and a bizarre flurry of dandelions, it was a routine win for the unbeaten HCC.
Houghton, shorn of captain Rob Hart and a number of other regular players, battled hard, but were ultimately never at the races.
After being inserted, the home side could only muster 71-8 in 40 somewhat turgid overs.
That total was never going to be enough to trouble Hardingstone, and Bob Anderson and Jack Larkin knocked it off in just under 14 overs.
The game, played at Great Houghton Rec, started under dark clouds and with the wind blowing a gale.
Yet there was still time for Ben Miller (2-13) to make a vital breakthrough, bowling Houghton opener Harry Crisp for a duck.
Although the weather was to improve rapidly, Houghton would never recover from the early loss of one of their best batsmen.
Ryan Crook (12) and Alex Osborn (18) provided stubborn, but slow paced resistance early on.
Crook, though, also succumbed to Miller, top edging high in the air and in to the safe hands of Harry ‘Meado’ Middleton.
Ben Mellor then dismissed Stuart Brockwell for a duck – a scalp which makes him the leading wicket taker in HCC history – while Craig Lewis bowled Osborn.
Archie Buglass survived for some time for his 20 before eventually being run out, but progress was slow going for Houghton.
HCC skipper Jonny Grove bowled ten miserly overs for just seven runs, while Lewis finished with 3-23.
A good display in the field was highlighted by an excellent direct hit from Simon ‘Chappers’ Chapman. The fact the batsman was flat out in the middle of the pitch having taken a tumble seems neither here nor there.
In reply, Larks (23*) and Anderson (39*) attacked from the start, with the latter taking a particular liking to Houghton’s opening bowling pair of Daniel and Colin Skevington.
They made short work of the runs required to give HCC a simple victory and 29 points.
Stone have now won 13 of their 14 matches this season – the other falling victim of the rain – and are sitting pretty at the top of the table, a full 70 points clear of Old Grammarians 2nd.
The 2nd XI made short work of bottom club Wellingborough OGs 3rds to increase their lead at the top of Division 12.
With Irthlingborough 3rds suffering a shock defeat to Bugbrooke 2nds, the 2s are now 33 points clear of their nearest rivals.
OGs were skittled for just 93 at Wootton Rec with Sooraj ‘Regi’ Premsagar grabbing 4-18.
Chris Peck, Matt Mooney and Craig Johnson also took two wickets apiece in a good all round bowling performance.
The team ethic showed through in the side’s batting as well, with the top four all weighing in with runs as HCC chased down their target in just over 16 overs.
Paul Larkin made 16 in his final game of the season, Andy Green hit 19, Mike Waldrond bashed 24, while Bryn Taylor was unbeaten on 25.
With a crunch match against Irthlingborough looming next week, the 2s have a great chance to get a real grip on the league.