Seaham Park hammered bottom club Houghton by nine wickets on Saturday, courtesy of Indian pro Siddharth Chitnis (4-50 and 31 not out).
The victory took them 61 points clear of the new team in second place, Burnopfield, who scraped past struggling Littletown by just 15 runs.
Draws in three of the other six matches didn’t do any favours to those with promotion ambitions, Ryhope in particular losing momentum and dropping to third, but Peterlee claimed their third win of the summer to move up to seventh place, their highest ranking for several years.
Ryhope posted 240-8 declared against Murton, thanks largely to Paul Jenkin (72), Michael Thorpe (51) and Connor Pearson (50), with Thomas Spinks grabbing 4-65.Murton were solid in their reply, closing on 196-5, with half-centuries from Chris Winn (64) and Tom Ewing (58no).
Aussie Aaron Shellie was their hero in Peterlee’s four-wicket victory over Evenwood, following up two wickets with a thumping century made from just 63 balls.
He was brilliantly supported by Tom Nicholson, who hit 97 from 85 balls in the bold run chase. Joseph Spalding bagged 4-44 in Evenwood’s 217-7.
Burnopfield, the heavy pre-season favourites, nudged into the second promotion placing but, as with most of their games so far, they were not entirely convincing as they edged past hosts Littletown with just 15 runs to spare.
A fifth wicket partnership of 118 between James Radcliife (76 from 68 balls) and James Self (78 not out from 62 balls) enabled Burnopfield to declare after 43 overs on 235-7, and it’s just as well they did as there were only a handful of balls remaining when the last Littletown wicket fell on 220. Shashikant Kadam (47) and Philip Bennett (41) top-scored for Littletown, whose top bowler was Tommy Hodgkiss (3-83).
Silksworth comfortably held on for a draw against Whiteleas, who made 201-7, thanks largely to Sunzow Brahma’s 103 not out with Jonny Hayes grabbing 3-55.
In reply, Michael Waterson (58) and Andy Barrass (55) impressed as Silksworth closed on 151-6, with Ray McRae taking 3-15.
Ushaw Moor (135-9) held on for a draw against Marsden.