WASHINGTON gave their Dukes North East Premier League First Division promotion hopes a timely boost as they swamped South Hetton by eight wickets on Saturday.
The home side endured a dismal day, being skittled for ajust 63 in 19.3 overs.
Jak Gaff, with a magnificent haul of 7-41, and Melvyn Betts (3-18) bowled unchanged as only one home batsman made it into double figures, and then teenager Matthew Potts saw the visitors to a comfortable success with an unbeaten 31, victory arriving inside 12 overs.
Only Omar Shahid (30 and 2-23) was able to take any pleasure out of the game in the South Hetton dressing room.
Seaham Harbour suffered a blow when they became Willington’s first victims of the season.
Ian Pattison (49) and Craig Stephenson (44) were the only Harbour batsmen to prosper as they limped to 150 in 54.2 overs, Gaurav Jathar and Calvin Stephenson both grabbing three wickets.
Willington were able to cruise past Harbour with five wickets and 12 overs to spare, Jathar carrying his bat for 37, backed by Luke Anderson (38) and Steven Alderson (32no).
Dale Shaw (2-24) and Peter Hambleton (1-19 in 12 overs) were the pick of Harbour’s bowlers.
A century from Kyle Davis was the highpoint of the afternoon at Felling, where Eppleton registered a 54-over total of 205-5.
Davis hit 14 fours on his way to an unbeaten 104, scored from 154 balls, and he was given great support by Craig Scurr as the pair shared an unbroken 95-run sixth wicket partnership which rescued their team from a shaky 110-5. Scurr ended with 57 from 45 balls having struck five fours and three sixes.
Dangerman James Crosthwaite then threatened to topple Eppleton, the Aussie cracking 10 fours and five sixes in a 92-ball 88, but Rizwan Ullah (4-32 from 15 overs) snared him just in time and Felling ended on 189-7.
The 13 points Eppleton took from the stalemate at least consolidated their second-placed ranking as they continue to look the most likely to give leaders South Shields a run for their money.
It was home sweet home yet again for Shields as they pulled off another success at Wood Terrace, their fourth in successive Saturdays, to create a 39-point gap between themselves and the chasing pack at the exact halfway point of the campaign.
Brandon were the latest victims, beaten by just 13 runs, and as in all the previous three matches Shields’ opponents had their own chances to win the game before having to give way to the hosts’ never-say-die spirit.
A 79-run opening partnership between Tim David and Mark Appleton (20) gave Shields the perfect start, but though the Aussie went on to hit eight fours and a six in an 81-ball 60, when he departed it needed number three bat Michael Dunn to get his head down as his partners came and went with increasing regularity.
Dunn eventually ended on 49 not out, from 67 balls, but with only one other batsman making it to double figures the home team ended on a disappointing 166, Jamie Robinson (4-37) and Andrew Walker (3-47) the men applying the pressure.
Brandon looked en route to success when they reached 82-1, but then the ball was thrown to third change bowler Sam Taylor-Gell and the youngster came up trumps in dramatic fashion, bagging 7-40 to leave Brandon beaten on 153 all out.
Sacriston’s hopes are quickly receding, a second defeat in as many matches leaving them 52 points adrift of the summit.
Boldon were the team dishing out the shock on this occasion, a deadly trio of Phil Shakespeare (4-30 from 15 overs), Neil Johnson (3-39 from 15 overs) and Joe Coyne (3-26) bemusing everyone but Mo Ali, who stood glaringly alone in his defiance as he made 73 from 118 balls.
An opening partnership of 87 between skipper Chris Ellison (47 from 60 balls) and Joe Coyne quickly quashed any notions of a fightback for the visitors, and Coyne cashed in with six fours and two sixes to end on 61 not out as Boldon won by eight wickets inside 32 overs.