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Ayton plug Hood flow

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A tied finish, two centuries and a hat-trick became the mixed cocktail of delights in the first half of a bank holiday bonanza of matches for which the weather was the only let down.

Despite the return of two-sweater conditions, and rain in the west of the League’s territory, there were runs in abundance at Great Ayton where Guisborough’s Martin Hood hit a century but finished on the losing side, a second ‘ton’ at Thornaby with Neil Coverdale making his former team-mates rue his move to Hartlepool, and a revival for Stokesley’s batsmen to end a worrying series of major collapses and defeats.

South African professional Brandon Viret took the hat-trick at Marske in his first five-wicket haul of the season, although the major climax of an exciting afternoon’s results came at Sedgefield where there was a nail-biting tie – a first for the season - with Normanby Hall.

Throughout all this championship front-runners Darlington extended their lead from eight to 18 points after leaving Marton, who they defeated by 54 runs in a low scoring match, looking like anything but champions.

Once again Martin Lower top scored with 50 in a patient opening stand as his side took 49 overs to reach 135. But that deadly duo of Jonathan Barnes (5-22) and Peter Armstrong (3-13) got to work on the visitors who were bowled out for just 81.

Barnes, with 23 league wickets already, was again in mean mode, not conceding a single run in nine of his 16 overs. Neil Russell (24 and 4-30) was Marton’s face saver.

Richmondshire’s bad luck with the weather came back to haunt them as their game with Middlesbrough was abandoned at the half way stage. Boro had totalled 197 for nine. Now the climatic conditions alone are starting to seriously affect Richmond’s title chasing plans.

Great Ayton pulled out a few batting ‘aces’ to gain one of their best victories against ‘derby’ rivals, Guisborough. The veteran opening batsman Hood made a stylish 101 out of 235 for four, including a partnership of 177 with Chris Allinson (85). But Ayton batted just as brilliantly to reach their winning target with Chris Batchelor (86) and Josh Thompson (44) sharing a stand of 113.

Quick fire knocks by Matty Wilkinson (24) and Lewis Harper (21 not out) kept up the momentum and they got the win with the penultimate ball of the game after scoring 46 runs from the final 29 deliveries. Priory skipper Chris Nicholls (3-45 from 17 overs) didn’t deserve to be a loser and, in the end, the absence of their professional, Mosharraf Hossain, was telling.

Normanby Hall scrambled a final ball tie at Sedgefield despite losing six wickets for 46 runs after Janaka Gunerathne (57) put them on top. Steve Naylor (62), with three fours and two sixes, shared a stand of 59 with Richie Hawthorne (34) which took the premier division newcomers to 152 for six.

Normanby, who could have won or lost it, sneaked level with the finishing line on 152 for nine, the identical score to their hosts after requiring five for victory from the final two overs with three wickets still standing.

Neil Coverdale’s unbeaten 102 for Hartlepool against his old team, Thornaby, was a patient affair but put his side in a strong position on 206 for five. He faced 154 balls and hit just nine fours, sharing a stand of 72 with Karun Bodhisha (31).

Omar Shahid hit back for Thornaby with 69 from 122 balls with seven boundaries, sharing a 78-run partnership with Danny Wade (39 not out). Thornaby recovered from 82 for five to reach stalemate on 177 for seven.

Bottom club Stokesley should get a confidence boost from their performance at Marske where Ian Still (62 not out), Andrew Weighell (54) and Jonny Weighell (32) took them to 243 for six, their season’s best.

Viret’s hat-trick came from the last two balls of one over and the first ball of the next in returning 5-85, while fellow ‘pro’ James Beaumont bowled a frugal 17 overs – conceding just 26 runs.

For Marske, Jon Pickard (56) and Ritchie Evans (41) shared 104 runs. They finished on 182 for eight.

Barnard Castle’s game with Billingham was washed out by rain after just 20 overs.