A RELIEVED Boldon secured their first win in the NEPL to move off the foot of the First Division table, an eight-wicket victory at Eppleton lifting them four places and to within one point of their beaten opponents.
Boldon’s decision to field first when winning the toss was vindicated as their bowlers never allowed Eppleton to settle despite the decent start given by an opening stand of 40.
Nelon Pascal (4-61) and Phil Shakespeare (3-45) kept picking up wickets after that and it took a late unbeaten 22 from top scorer Graham Hoban to lift the hosts from 114-9 to 147 all out.
The run chase wasn’t all plain sailing for Boldon.
There were a few flutters when two wickets went down with the score on 28, but after that it was the Shaun Hauxwell show as the opener smacked seven fours and four sixes as he rattled up an unbeaten 93 from 108 balls, partnering Matthew Sampson-Barnes (28no) in a match winning third-wicket stand of 122 which brought victory inside 32 overs.
With Boldon upwardly mobile, it was Seaham Harbour who suffered as they slid into the wooden spoon slot following a heavy nine-wicket mauling by Brandon.
Jamie Robinson (5-40) and Eddie Watson (3-26) combined to sink the Harbour for 160, and then former Durham and Notts star Karl Turner crashed 13 fours and three sixes as he rushed Brandon to victory in just 30 overs with a 113-ball 110 not out.
Up at the summit, Whitburn consolidated their lead with a third win, this one coming on home soil by eight wickets over Willington.
Following several days of rain there was a clear advantage in bowling first for most teams, and it was no different at Whitburn so when the coin fell in their favour there was no hesitation in asking the visitors to bat.
And that decision was soon vindicated as a superb spell from Mark Elliott reduced Willington to 72-8.
Eight fours and three sixes from number ten bat Patrick Stephenson (56) then restored some hope, but with Elliott ending with 6-37 the eventual total of 155, whilst a lot better than it could have been, looked well within Whitburn’s compass.
And so it proved as Neil Ayre anchored the successful run chase with an undefeated half century.
South Hetton made it two wins in a row as they easily overcame the challenge of Felling after bowling them out cheaply.
Only one batsman made it to double figures as overseas ‘pro’ Murtuza Hussain combined with experienced campaigner John Leslie to rout the home side for just 63 in 28 overs.
Leslie ended with 4-40 from his 14 overs, and Hussain a superb six wickets for 29 runs in the same stint.
Paul Leonard had been Felling’s top scorer with 15, and when he then struck two early blows to help reduce Hetton to 15-3 home hopes rose. But that was as good as it got as Gary Burlinson (31 not out) and Robbie Atherton (23 not out) combined in an unbroken match winning fourth wicket stand of 49 to see their side to a comfortable seven-wicket victory.
Sacriston are third even though they have yet to win a game.
A stalemate at Washington made it five straight draws, but at least they ended up with the lion’s share of the points after losing the toss and watching their opponents notch up 202-8 in 55 overs, mainly courtesy of Stephen Cuthbertson’s 93.
With five overs less Sacriston couldn’t quite make it, settling for safety on 187-5, Phil Peel making 76.