Blaydon stake a claim
All four leading sides won on Saturday, but once again it was Blaydon who benefitted most from the day’s action as they gathered 29 points from their victory at Denton Bank to move 30 points clear of the field with just five games remaining.
Benwell Hill’s decision to bat when winning the toss saw them on the back foot from the start when Rammi Singh lasted just two balls, and from then on it was a struggle with only Zohaib Khan (45) looking likely to break the shackles imposed by the visiting attack.
Craig Simpson and Chris Varley shared six cheap wickets, and with Cole McConchie bagging a couple more the Hill were bowled out for 158 in 52 overs.
Khan (5-72) then made the run chase uncomfortable at times, but Mark Drake (46 not out) helped take the pressure off when his team had slipped to 70 for four, and the crucial winning runs came up in the 51st over with four wickets standing.
South North remained second with an ‘away’ win on home soil against the Academy, but they got the fright of their lives when they were reduced to 85 for seven after deciding to bat.
Late runs eased the crisis, Paul Coughlin (33) heading the rescuers who took the Bulls up to 158, before he bagged three wickets to put the Academy on the back foot themselves. Lee Crozier (4-27) then wrapped up a 52-run win.
Chester-le-Street swamped Hetton Lyons by eight wickets as Andrew Tye (6-43) sliced though the home side. Set a target of just 132 the Cestrians were never in trouble as Andrew Smith finished a clinical job with an unbeaten 44.
Sunderland’s home win over South Shields saw six of their players get in on the wicket taking act as Shields were ground down to 147 all out in 60 overs.
The Wearsiders successful run chase was much shorter, the four wicket victory arriving after just 38 overs, Michael Turns half century headlining as he kept Mattie Muchall (4-41) at bay.
Tynemouth added to Gateshead Fell’s woes at the foot of the table as they skittled them for a paltry 67, David Hymers rampant in a 17 over spell in which he claimed 7-28. A ten wicket victory followed in 13.4 overs as skipper Ben Debnam (42 not out) led the home charge.
Newcastle’s decision to bowl when winning the Jesmond toss against Stockton looked a sound one when the Teessiders slid to 54 for five, but Jimmy Ward’s 61 rescued the visitors and with more runs down the order they reached an improbable 224 despite Ian Blackwell’s four wickets.
Keaton Jennings’ (5-39) opening burst then blew away the top half of the Newcastle innings, but they didn’t have a Ward in their ranks and crashed to a heavy 123 run defeat.