Significant victories for the top four made it a day of little change at the top, but a heavy defeat for Gateshead Fell set against the backdrop of South Shields’ domination of their game at Roseworth Terrace meant isolation for the Fell at the foot of the Premier table.
The whole atmosphere at Shields has changed with the arrival of Kiwi international Tom Latham, and he made it two centuries in two appearances as he joined with fellow first-classer Gordon Muchall to destroy the South North attack.
Flung immediately together when the first two Shields wickets went to Stephen Humble for just 2 runs between them, Latham and Muchall proceeded to call the tune in a dramatic second wicket partnership that quickly took the game away from the Bulls.
Latham’s 107 and Muchall’s 124 provided breathtaking acceleration to a total of 290 for six, and then Mattie Muchall (5-33) had the Bulls cornered on 157 for nine only for the last pair to survive.
With just 7 points from the game South North’s title hopes went West but Shields are eyeing the upper ground after their 16 point haul, allied to a pointless day for the Fell, left them a handsome 21 points clear of the relegation slot.
Gateshead crashed by nine wickets at home to Benwell Hill after David Rutherford (5-28) combined with Zohaib Khan (4-18) to blow them away for just 115, and then Nick Jones smashed an unbeaten 61 as the visitors won the game inside 18 overs.
That victory lifted Hill to a clear third in the table as they took advantage of South North’s slip and also gained two more points than Hetton Lyons who were still pretty impressive in their six wicket victory over Newcastle in a game where the bat dominated.
Jacques du Toit included 5 sixes in his unbeaten 105 scored from just 106 balls and shared in a third wicket stand of 109 with Michael Richardson (73), but if Newcastle thought they were safe in declaring on 263 for six inside 55 overs they got a rude awakening as the Lyons roared home with plenty of time to spare, Pakistani Lal Kumar headlining with a 94-ball 95.
Blaydon became a victim of the ‘Durham factor’ after Keaton Jennings was allowed to join Stockton when the championship match at the Emirates ICG finished a day early.
He had a profound effect on the game at Grangefield where he was the mainstay of the home innings with a century, and then followed up with three wickets from an 18 over stint.
With his county colleagues, Jamie Harrison and Josh Bousfield, taking five of the other six wickets to fall Stockton continued to blaze a trail at the top, but for Blaydon their hopes of taking the title are quickly receding as they now have a massive 70 points to make up on their conquerors.