NE Premier League: Something’s got to give as league’s top two lock horns

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All roads lead to Ropery Lane on Saturday when the two big guns of NEPL cricket clash head on in the Premier Division’s undoubted match-of-the-day.

Chester-le-Street and South North have dominated the scene almost since the birth of the Premier League back in the year 2000.

In the 15 years of competition, the pair have won 12 championships between them, and it already looks likely that number 13 will be notched up come September.

The Cestrians have started the stronger, but they haven’t been able to shake off the attentions of the reigning champions despite the Bulls struggling at times to replicate the form of last year.

The two sides head into the match with identical playing records, but the lads from the Lane have been so impressive in the nature of their wins that they have opened up a 22-point gap on their rivals.

And the Bulls go into the game on the back of four straight wins, something that Chester can’t say after their winning streak was halted at Benwell Hill last Saturday when the home team rocked their boat on a couple of occasions.

Firstly, when they reduced the table-toppers to 77-6, and then when they reached 194-3 chasing 275. Street demonstrated their strength in depth by fighting back on both occasions to salvage a draw, but the slight chink in their armour won’t have gone unnoticed at Roseworth Terrace.

Chester have only one doubt in terms of their team make-up, with John Coxon nursing a slight groin strain, although it is fully expected he will play to put the home team at full strength.

The news from the South North camp is that Stephen Humble, who returned to action last week after a lengthy lay-off, will bowl on Saturday after just playing as a batsman in the win over Blaydon.

That leaves just one question mark, with Jimmy Miller to undergo a late fitness test.

Hetton Lyons will have to cope without the services of Darrell Williams for the rest of the season as the student has returned to his home club Barnt Green in the Birmingham League.

The leg-spinner managed five league games whilst he was in the region, claiming six wickets at an average of 14.67.

Lyons remain heavily involved at the wrong end of the table. Still to record a win, they are just 14 points ahead of bottom club Gateshead Fell and entertain the Academy this weekend, their opponents proving stubborn opponents this year having lost just one of their league games and drawn six, and in Jack Burnham and Dylan Budge, they have two of the top-eight run scoring batsmen in the league.

Top of the run scoring pile is South Shields’ Tim David, the Australian’s magnificent unbeaten 149 last week ensuring he was the first to win the race to the 500 league runs milestone this summer, edging out Newcastle skipper Jacques du Toit (490).

Shields host Whitburn on Saturday, the visitors struggling for consistency in an up and down campaign.

Skipper Andy Turns misses this one for Whitburn because of work commitments, and Ross Carty comes in for him.

Paul Shields retains his place and it is unlikely Paul Coughlin will be available, so Dan Quinan is on standby.