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First ever title win for Stockton

The bubbly was out at Blaydon, and it was Stockton who were gladly paying as they became champions of the NEPL Premier Division for the first time in their history.

Keaton Jennings (4-23) had Blaydon on the retreat from the off, the hosts slumping to 10 for four, but a hard earned 41 from Graeme Bridge helped lift his side before Umar Shafiq (3-22) finished the innings off to leave the home team all out for 121.

The Teessiders then had their own problems, slipping to 2 for two and then 47 for four as Danny Evans (4-27) struck early blows.

It was at that point two Stockton lads came together to clinch things, skipper Kevin Ward (58 not out) partnering brother Jimmy (21) in a 60 run fifth wicket partnership that effectively ended the contest, and a five wicket win following soon afterwards for the jubilant visitors.

A sensational game at South Shields looks to have sealed the home team’s relegation fate as they are now 41 points adrift after Gateshead Fell pulled of a surprise win at Benwell Hill.

Five wickets from Mattie Muchall, and three from Chris Watson looked to have put Shields in the driving seat against South North, but having been bowled out for just 92 the Bulls charged back through Stephen Humble (7-15) and Lee Crozier (3-24) to skittle the home team for 48.

It was less than 16 hours since Benwell Hill had won the Banks Salver for the first time, and it was the hero of that emphatic victory over Whitburn who again gave the Hill a great start to their home league match against Gateshead Fell.

Jonny Craigs hit 12 boundaries on his way to 89, and with Zohaib Khan adding 43 the home team were able to post a challenging 212 despite a fine spell of bowling from Jaspreet Singh who claimed 4-30 in 14.2 excellent overs.

Rami Singh hasn’t had the best of seasons but he certainly came to the party on this occasion, cracking 10 fours and a six on his way to a 94-ball 89, and with Adam Whatley (37) and Jas Singh (33no) adding valuable support Gateshead eased their way to a vital four wicket victory that brought maximum points and almost certain safety.

In the rest of the Bank Holiday games there were wins for Chester-le-Street and Hetton Lyons, whilst the Durham Academy and Sunderland played out a closely fought draw.

Chester, buoyed by qualification for the televised ECB T20 finals day at the Kia Oval, defeated Tynemouth by three wickets, Simon Birtwisle continuing his outstanding form with a top scoring 49 as the Cestrians knocked off a target of 149.

Gary Scott and Shaun Birbeck gave the Lyons their roar at Jesmond, Scott making 98 from 162 balls, and Birbeck an unbeaten 73 from 89 balls as Hetton set a target of 232 for seven. Neil Corby (54no) did his best to rally the Newcastle reply, but with Sean Tindale (3-15) and Lal Kumar (4-35) on song the home team were bowled out for 157 in 43 overs.

A studious knock of 72 not out by Jack Clark saw the Academy reach 215 for nine in 65 overs against Sunderland for whom Arsalan Rahim (4-36) shone in a 20 over stint.

Dan Shurben (41) and Mark Dale (45) gave the Wearsiders hope, but three wickets from Andy Ireland and four from Max Morley put the brakes on as Sunderland closed out on 180 for nine.

Just one day after winning the Banks Salver for the first time in their history, and in such convincing fashion, Benwell Hill were unable to shake off the previous night’s celebrations as they crashed to a four wicket defeat at the hands of struggling Gateshead Fell.

The Hill made 212 in 53.2 overs with the previous day’s hero, Jonny Craigs, continuing his scintillating form with 12 boundaries in his 86, but with Jaspreet Singh picking up 4-30 in 14 overs the Fell gave themselves a chance.

And they took that chance superbly as Rami Singh cracked 89 from 94 balls to set up the victory, Adam Whatley (37) and Jaspreet Singh (33no) providing the necessary support to take Gateshead through to a crucial four wicket win with plenty of time to spare.

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