Hooker’s too hot!

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SUNDERLAND stayed on top of the Dukes North East Premier League table as their outstanding start to the new season continued with their fourth win in six games.

An impressive 196-run defeat of South Shields, who started the day in fifth place, was a triumph for all-round team performance but highlighted by superb individual displays from Chris Hooker, who hit 100 not out, skipper Dan Shurben who led by example with 60 and Chris Rushworth, who was unbeaten on 79 and then grabbed four wickets to become the complete match-winner.

Sunderland topped 300 as Shurben won the toss and opened the batting himself. He hit ten fours and a six in another attractive spell at the crease.

Hooker, batting at number five, had to initially stabilise the innings with four wickets gone for under 100, but once in full flight he was magnificent, ending with 13 fours and two sixes for his blistering century.

He shared a stand of 150 for the sixth wicket with Rushworth to take the Wearsiders to 302-6.

Then Rushworth got to work with the ball, grabbing three of the first five Shields wickets to fall and finishing with match-winning figures of 4-43. Mike Turns chipped in with three other wickets in conceding just 14 runs to leave Shields without a hope of saving the game. They were bowled out for 106 and dropped down to seventh place.

Chester-le-Street won’t be far away at the end of the season if they maintain the form they have shown recently.

They won for a third time when they took on a depleted Hetton Lyons, making 294-5 before a declaration after 53 overs. Andrew Smith contributed a top score of 85 before Liam Simpson was unbeaten on 72 and then grabbed five wickets to take man-of-the-match rating.

Scott Borthwick made an impressive debut for the Cestrians, hitting 61 with nine fours before losing his wicket to a run-out.

The Lyons were dismissed for 197 with Simpson on song, his victims including the two top scorers Rob Talbot, who made 65, and Jarvis Clay, who chipped in with 62.

Blaydon are ahead of Chester-le-Street by nine points but 10 behind Sunderland as the leading trio of clubs have opened up a gap over defending champions South North. Blaydon’s latest win came against Benwell Hill with Allan Worthy (52 not out) and Graeme Bridge (4-25) the match winners.

And it was Durham Academy who were responsible for taking the Bulls to the brink of defeat at Gosforth. The youngsters posted 222-8 with Jack Clark making a superb century and Cole Pearce hitting 60 in an attractive partnership. The home side slumped to 161-9 but managed to hang-on to grab vital draw points, Ryan Buckley (3-44) was the most successful of Durham’s six bowlers.

Elsewhere, Newcastle defeated Stockton in the final over with Mike Richardson making a brilliant unbeaten 171 from 169 balls, and Tynemouth crushed Gateshead Fell to leave them rooted to the foot of the league table.