ON a dramatic final day of action, Seaham Park saw their title dream disappear into the fading Peterlee sunset as Boldon CA did just enough to take the championship by the narrowest of margins.
League officials were still being cautious yesterday in giving final confirmation that the closest finish in years had fallen in favour of the reigning champions, preferring to await the receipt of the match returns before doing so.
But after the two sides finished level on points, as well as the number of overall wins, the rule book indicates that the next measure is the number of defeats and with CA having lost one less game than Park it was they who were celebrating on Saturday night.
Boldon started the day with a 10-point deficit to make up and they got through their home game against Easington fairly quickly, bowling the visitors out for exactly 100 in 27.1 overs, then struggling past the winning post in only 23.2 overs, but with seven wickets down, to collect 20 points.
Easington chose to bat when winning the toss, which immediately meant Boldon’s best return could only be those 20 points, and which also meant Park needed 11 to be crowned champions.
Superb bowling from Carl Watson, who took 3-43 in 12 overs and Ian Male, who had outstanding figures of 6-10 from 7.1 overs, left Easington down and apparently out.
However, four wickets from Jordan Wilson and three from Ben Scott put Boldon in real trouble until Gary Hewitt (29no) kept his head to steer his team home.
Meanwhile, over at Peterlee, Park were labouring through 50 overs in reaching 159-8, Andrew Docherty (57) and Stuart Pattison (30) being the mainstays.
Peterlee then found it even tougher going, crawling through 33 overs to score 66-5 and leave Seaham with just 10 of the 11 points they needed – the real heartache coming when a catch went down off the penultimate ball of the game which would have secured the title winning point.
Elsewhere, there was a final day century for Seaham Harbour’s Adam Fairley, who hit 15 fours in his unbeaten 103 made out of a total of 208-4. Murton were then shot out for 92, with Jack Lacey picking up 4-16.
Hylton were the other winners on the day, knocking off Dawdon’s score of 177 with just two wickets to spare, Lee Rushworth (76) and Darren Walton (52) on song with the bat for the winners.
Bad light ended play early at Silksworth, where Ryhope gained sufficient points to finish above their local rivals in the table, while rain was the culprit at Washington, where Bill Quay still needed another 111 runs when the end came.
H Sacriston took a huge stride towards winning the NTSL championship when they defeated Morpeth by six wickets.
The league leaders were right on top of their game with the ball and Morpeth struggled through 37.5 overs before their final wicket fell with the score on 112 as Kendal Ballard (3-26) and Ryan Moralee (3-30) led a successful quartet of wicket-taking bowlers.
Sacriston then struggled early in their reply, their fourth wicket going down with just 47 on the board.
But Harry Hubber, with six fours in his unbeaten 33 and youngster Reece Carr, with four boundaries in his 35 not out, calmed nerves in an unbroken match-winning fifth wicket partnership of 69.