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Richmondshire celebrate long-awaited win

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Champagne was flowing freely in the Dales as Richmondshire celebrated winning the Darlington Building Society North Yorkshire and South Durham ECB Premier League title for the first time in 17 years.

But gloom descended over Billingham and Marske as they lost their fight against relegation and face next season playing at the lower level.

Richmond got the win they needed to clinch the title but, in the end, they won it by a much greater margin – 14 points - than expected as Darlington’s final game ended with a batting collapse and victory for third-placed Great Ayton.

The Dalesmen, who stayed unbeaten all season, owed their last day success to their professional, Shani Dissanayake, who took six wickets and hit an unbeaten 61 runs to make sure Billingham didn’t produce the unexpected and stop the axe falling.

Their defeat by four wickets saw them relegated as wooden spoonists after Thornaby and Sedgefied produced Houdini styled escapes to stay up.

Thornaby looked unlikely to survive with three games of the season remaining but the return of their own ‘pro’, Indika de Seram, after an international tournament in Sri Lanka, turned the tables with a second successive win pulling them clear by just two points.

De Seram hit a swashbuckling century against Barnard Castle and shared in a stand worth 174 with Jonny Spillane (66 not out). The unbeaten 103 came from just 96 balls with 16 boundaries.

Marske had the cruel luck to meet the other side fighting relegation, and while their overall performance on the day was marginally better they lost out to Sedgefield, who needed just five points to stay up and gained six.

The Seasiders could have done with more runs but had to settle for 139 for seven with Karl Bramwell top scoring on 32. But they put up a formidable fight before Sedgefield gained the draw which earned them a second season among the elite clubs.

They replied with 111 for eight after Steve Naylor kept his nerve on 56 from 145 balls and Justin Preston survived 26 balls for just one run in a frantic finish.

As one seaside club departs, two others, Saltburn and Redcar, return to the premier division after winning promotion.

Redcar left it to the last day to clinch their place – beating Whitby by three wickets to do so – while Saltburn, who had already made sure of winning the Division One championship, ended with a convincing victory over Bishop Auckland who also had aspirations to return but will have to wait another season.

Saturday was also an extra special day for Stokesley who ended the season with a record run of five consecutive wins to finish in the top six. This contrasted with six successive defeats shortly after the season began!

The latest success came against Guisborough, who were bowled out for just 96, with South African Brandon Viret (3-29) finishing second in the League’s wicket takers rankings with 58 victims.

Elsewhere Marton’s Wally Ghauri missed out on a century by four runs at Hartlepool where he featured in a stand of 178 with his skipper Matty Brown (64). The game was drawn with Marton, last year’s champions, getting the bulk of the points to finish fifth.

Middlesbrough drew with Normanby Hall to finish fourth, but it was a case of what might have been for Great Ayton, who showed they have the potential to become champions by rattling Darlington at Feethams.

Lewis Harper (49 and 5-31) was the man-of-the-match, but David Grainge (4-8) made sure the Quakers fell short of Ayton’s all out score of 167 by 24 runs. Doug Mulholland (5-60) joined the 50 wicket ‘club’ headed by Jon Barnes (4-39).