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Lucky Richmond grab vital win

Luck, as well as ability, plays its part in deciding championships and as Richmondshire regained their place as league leaders for the third time this season they had to be grateful that the weather played a major role.

With their close rivals, Darlington and Marton, having their games washed out by heavy downpours, the Dalesmen were fortunate to be in the one place where the rain appeared to be the least severe and despite one worrying delay Richmond were able to grab a vital win.

It made it possible for them not only to wipe away the nine point pre-match lead held by the Quakers, but to gain a three-point advantage of their own as the race for the silverware reaches a crucial stage.

Darlington’s game at Feethams was abandoned at about the same time as the new title favourites were beginning their innings at Saltburn after they had skittled out their hosts for a meagre 88 runs.

Umesh Karunaratne did his best to hold back the visitors’ attack, and at 64 with just two wickets down the Sri Lankan, on 26, looked like building a useful innings.

But three wickets fell, including his own, while just two runs were added and the rot continued with the next two batsmen gone for only six more runs.

Fifteen were added before the eighth wicket went down but one run later Saltburn were all out as the collapse was complete. Shani Dissanayake,

who took three wickets for just nine runs from 9.2 overs, and Craig Marshall (3-22 from nine) got among the Seasiders who lost two of their other wickets unnecessarily to run-outs.

Richmond were left 28 overs to get the runs and although losing two wickets quickly went on to win at a canter. Gary Pratt hit two fours and a six in a top score of 32, and when he left they needed 25 to win with 17 overs remaining and James Clarkson (20 not out) saw the job completed.

Karunaratne took two of the four Richmond wickets to fall in an eight over spell which cost 41 runs.

Richmondshire were last at the top six weeks ago since when Marton and Darlington have enjoyed spells as leaders each lasting two weekends.

Now, with six matches remaining, the Quakers must be starting to wonder if they’re to be dealt a similar blow to last season when the title was taken from under their noses by the Dalesmen in the final fortnight.

On Saturday Middlesbrough had scored 139 for five after 42 of their 50 overs when the heavens opened and the game was called off. Brett Roberts (53 not out) had held up the home bowlers for whom Doug Mulholland (3-42 from 13 overs) was the main contributor.

They took an early tea break when the rain started but never got back out again.

Marton saw their hopes of winning the championship severely dented when only 20 overs of their game at Great Ayton (80 without losing a wicket) were possible.

They are now 16 points behind the new leaders, rather than the 11 they were trailing Darlington before they lost their place as table- toppers.

Barnard Castle managed a winning draw against Guisborough even though 28 overs were lost to the rain, and it saw them climb away from the possible dangers in the lower reaches of the table.

A half century for Simon Tennant, 45 from Aamer Sajjad, and an unbeaten 44 from Ben Usher took Barney to 192 for three before Richard Borrowdale (5-53 in ten overs) left the one-time title contenders struggling on 110 for eight.

Even this game was subsequently abandoned.

Relegation doomed Thornaby were struggling again on 83 for five against Hartlepool when the rain arrived. Durham School star Adil Arif showed his all-round ability with three wickets in a 17 over spell in the absence of professional, Marc Symington. Another wash-out was at Sedgefield (60-1) where Redcar were only able to bowl 24 overs.

In Sunday’s top flight game Stokesley overcame Normanby Hall by three wicket in a game where runs were at a premium. Hall laboured through 50 overs to end on 150 for seven, Shahid Khan top scoring with 33 and Andrew Weighell taking four wickets.

Stokesley got off to a solid start in the run chase, but then wickets began to fall to the spin of Leigh Beaumont (4-26) and it took a watchful innings from Will Brown (33 not out) to edge his team past the winning post with just 15 balls to spare.

Victory took Stokesley to virtual safety in mid-table, but Normanby have an uphill battle to wage if they are to escape relegation after slipping 19 points from safety with just six games remaining.

In Division One, the fight for the two promotion places continued apace with Bishop Auckland and Seaton Carew remaining favourites despite their games being abandoned.

Bishops, who were relegated two seasons ago and are heading the charge, bowled out Billingham Synthonia for a meagre 58 runs. Their reply had just started when rain became the only winner. But the 11 points they gained extended their lead over Seaton to 15 and over third-placed Marske to 31.

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