Holders Hampshire beat Essex at a rainy Rose Bowl
|Friends Life t20, The Rose Bowl|
|Hampshire 151-3 beat Essex 122-6 by 9 runs (D/L)|
Holders Hampshire moved a step close to a quarter-final place as they held on to beat Essex in a rain-affected FL t20 South Group match at The Rose Bowl.
James Vince hit 55, backed by 45 from Sean Ervine as Hampshire totalled 151-7 from 20 overs.
Two stoppages for rain then reduced Essex's target but they fell nine runs short on 122-6 from their 17 overs.
Dimitri Mascarenhas took three early wickets as Hampshire strengthened their grip with their 10th win in 13 matches.
Mascarenhas took his tally for the competition to 15 for the season by dismissing Adam Wheater and Tim Southee in his first over and then Mark Pettini in his third.
Essex never fully recovered, although Ravi Bopara (48) and Owais Shah (38, including a six off Shahid Afridi) attempted a recovery with a stand of 55 for the fourth wicket.
When Essex came back out after a second rain stoppage they required 56 from five overs and soon lost Ryan ten Doeschate before Bopara perished going for a big hit at 109, stumped down the leg side off Afridi - and, with him, went Essex's last hope of salvaging a surprise win.
Essex now have just two home games left, while Hampshire could book their quarter-final place with victory against Surrey at The Oval on Friday night (1830 BST).
Essex are in action the same night, at home to Glamorgan at Chelmsford (1900 BST).
Essex coach Paul Grayson told BBC Essex:
"We lost it in the middle phase, our fielding wasn't quite as intense as it should have been.
"One or two people were sleeping a little bit tonight, and you can't afford to do that especially against a good side like Hampshire.
"It's a lack of consistency within the side that is the concern. We've got two games to go and we're going to have to win both now."