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Washout keeps Blaydon in front

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They say the weather’s better in the south, and so it proved on Saturday when Stockton’s home NEPL encounter was the only one to see any play.

With the Teessiders taking maximum advantage of their good fortune with the weather, they moved to within 11 points of a top four placing.

Two recent victories had boosted bottom club Gateshead Fell’s spirits, and Richard Steele typified their new found zest with an opening 85 which included seven fours and two sixes.

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When he was fourth out he had made a significant proportion of the Fell’s 121 at that stage, but with the next best in the innings being just 17 the visitors then slid to 159 all out.

Keaton Jennings had been the main thorn in Gateshead’s side, picking up 4-41 from his 16 overs upon his return from county cricket, and with Umar Shafiq wrapping things up quickly with a late burst of 3-17 the home team were firmly in the ascendancy at the interval.

And they didn’t waste their victory opportunity as Jennings (31) and Tom Coulthard (36) shared a half century opening partnership to set up Jimmy Ward’s charge in which he hit an unbeaten 38 from 43 balls to take Stockton to a five wicket success inside 37 overs.

The rest of the washout meant leaders Blaydon stayed 31 points in front of second-placed South North with just three games of the season remaining.