On a day when champions South North crashed to defeat, Blaydon laid some ghosts to rest and Benwell Hill won their first match, it was a sensational individual display from Ryan Pringle that stole the limelight.
The Hetton Lyon's all-rounder turned in one of the greatest solo efforts in the League’s history to almost single-handedly overpower a shell-shocked Gateshead Fell who crashed to a 147-run defeat.
He strode to the crease with his team’s score already on 37, and left after facing just 100 balls with his side on 240 for four.
In between he smashed 16 fours and 4 sixes en route to 124 and showed just why Durham's coach Geoff Cook singled him out as one of the club's key prospect for the future.
Lyons declared when Pringle’s fireworks ended, but he wasn’t given any rest as he was then asked to open the bowling, and after a sedate enough start, during which the Fell advanced to 48 for one, he simply ran through their line-up.
The last nine wickets gathered just 45 runs as Pringle returned a career-best 9-31, the second best marker in NEPL history, just behind Franklyn Rose’s 9-22 back in 2002.
South North’s shock came at Stockton where they went down by four wickets despite the game being reduced to a total of 71 overs because of the rain.
The Teessiders didn’t need that much time anyway, rolling the Bulls over for 76 inside 30 overs, and this without their two Durham stars.
Jonny Wightman briefly raised hopes of a great escape as his early wickets reduced the home side to 19 for four, but once they gritted their teeth and dug in it became impossible to defend the indefensible, the loss of the game meaning South North surrendered top spot to their victors.
Blaydon moved up to third, at the same time gaining a small measure of revenge over a Tynemouth side who ended their title dreams on the last day of the 2012 campaign.
The visitors were bowled out for 119 in less than two hours, Gary Stewart and Theo van Woerkom sharing six of the wickets, Allan Worthy then eased his side to a seven wicket win with an unbeaten 59 made from 103 balls faced.
Benwell Hill ended Sunderland’s winning start to the season as their batsmen came good at Ashbrooke. Jonny Craigs (72), Zohaib Khan (62no) and Sameet Brar (58) made hefty contributions as the Hill posted 251 for four in 46 overs, and then Khan cleaned out the Wearsiders lower order with a ten over spell of 5-14, Dave Rutherford doing the early damage with 3-21.
A throbbing match at Jesmond ended with honours about even, Newcastle (304 for six) just failing to overhaul South Shields total of 310 for eight, the run out of Michael Richardson for 99 enabling the Shieldsmen to just hold a brilliant home run chase in check.