SUNDERLAND overcame one of the season’s “banana-skin” games to show their determination to win the NEPL championship for only the second time.
Leaders by seven points before Saturday’s meeting with bottom club Gateshead Fell, they were in ruthless form as they took maximum points to increase their advantage to 17.
The Wearsiders’ ability to score freely against their struggling opponents, who were then bowled out cheaply, was the key to their high points return.
Mark Dale and Dan Shurben shared in an opening partnership of 118 which ultimately made them the day’s highest scorers as they reached 252-7. Dale made a top score of 76 while Shurben was first out on 46. Both hit four boundaries.
Chris Hooker (39) and Ruel Brathwaite (35) then made sure there was solid middle-order support.
And when the Fell batted, they had no answer to the pace of Brathwaite whose 16 overs brought him five wickets.
They were all out for just 87 in 44.2 overs, Brathwaite conceding only 28 runs as he bowled with real fire and accuracy. Jaspreet Singh (2-18) and Kieran Waterson (2-26) provided excellent support.
Hetton Lyons and Durham Academy also enjoyed big wins over Tynemouth and Newcastle respectively.
Lyons posted 217-9 with Shaun Birbeck (67) featuring in an opening stand of 66 with Jarvis Clay who made 31. Then Sean Tindale (34no) gave the scoreline a middle-order boost. Tynemouth came under the spell of Anthony Watson (6-32 in 11 overs) when they replied and managed just 82 runs before they were all out inside 19 overs.
Youngster Ben Whitehead mopped up the tail by taking three wickets without conceding a single run in three overs and five balls.
Durham Academy also skittled out their opponents cheaply after their batting had put them in the ascendancy. Openers Jack Clark (59) and Graham Clark (48) provided a 78-run partnership to set up a final score of 203-7 in their allocated 60 overs.
Cole Pearce added 41 in 47 balls before Newcastle slumped to 88 all out in 43.5 overs. Four wickets for Grant Nicholson at a cost of just 22 runs followed up the opening attack of James Weighell and Ollie Ashford who had identical figures of 2-13.
South Shields dropped down a place in the league ratings when they suffered their fourth defeat of the season. They lost by just 16 runs, though, to high-flying Blaydon, who are currently in second place behind Sunderland.
With Kris McShane (5-18) taking the top bowling honours, Blaydon were only able to post 92 but it proved to be sufficient as Shields collapsed to an all-out score of 76.
Their top score was just 14 and that came from Mattie Muchall who had earlier enjoyed his usual success with the ball.
Elsewhere, Chester-le-Street and South North figured in a closely-fought but rain-reduced contest which ended as a draw.
Opener John Graham with 54 was the top scorer for the Bulls, while Stephen Humble (5-18 in 14 overs) became the thorn in the side of the Cestrians who finished with nine wickets down and needing 26 runs to win. Opening bowler Graeme Cessford, batting at number 10, saved them from defeat with an unbeaten 34 after yet another early order failure saw them on 77-8 at one point.