NE Premier League: Washington, Eppleton on march in title chase

Whitburn bowler Scott Condy in action against Tynemouth on Saturday
Whitburn bowler Scott Condy in action against Tynemouth on Saturday
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There was a complete change of scenery at the top of the First Division as the two sides still proudly holding unbeaten records rose to the top of the pile after defeating their closest challengers.

Eppleton look unstoppable at the moment, although the next three weeks are likely to prove pivotal to their season as they face matches against new leaders Washington and fellow promotion hopefuls Burnmoor.

Their latest success was their most significant to date, coming against leaders Brandon who, up until last weekend, had been unbeaten themselves. Now, with two successive defeats stinging them, they have dropped to third, two points behind Eppleton.

Brandon were caught out a little by rain which arrived at 2.45pm and saw their available overs reduced to just 37, and they were unable to pick up sufficient momentum to get beyond 158-7.

Joe Dodd, Kamran Shah and Craig Scurr all struck twice, with Sairaj Raghavan top-scoring on 41.

Eppleton, with 32 overs available to chase, won with one of those to spare as the imperious Kyle Davis cracked 16 fours and a six in a 93-ball 96 not out, making the bulk of the runs in an opening partnership of 118 with Graham Hoban (29) which paved the way to success. Dean Musther added an unbeaten 22.

Meanwhile, Burnmoor were finding it tough at the top, slumping to 49-7 at Washington before youngster Riley Blunt saved their blushes with a battling 60-ball 42 from the number seven slot. Karl Bellerby added 24, with Paul Craig making 20. Melvyn Betts (3-34) and Martin Hubber (4-33) caused all the early mayhem before Aussie Trent Mais (2-14) wrapped things up as Burnmoor slid to 113 all out.

And it was Mais who then turned the screw, hitting seven boundaries in a 66-ball 54 which ensured that a tricky start, in which a couple of early wickets went down, was overcome as Washington eased to a five-wicket win which took them 17 points clear as the new leaders.

Moor’s Sean Tindale and Steven Meek both bagged two wickets.

As well as the rumblings up above, there were rumblings down below too as Sunderland and South Hetton pulled off their second victories of the summer to move out of the bottom two.

After going all season without a win, the Ashbrooke side made it two in a row with a derby success over Seaham Harbour, the victory lifting them off the foot of the table and away from the danger zone.

Bravesh Shetty was the hero – along with Durham’s Usman Arshad (62 not out from 54 balls) and Michael Nunn (37) – as the Indian’s 87-ball unbeaten century rushed his side to a seven-wicket win in 38.2 overs, the result somewhat harsh on Dale Shaw (96 not out), Martin Stephenson (69) and Ian Pattison (45), who had inspired Harbour to their promising 247-4.

A rain-blighted first innings at South Hetton left Boldon with just 180 to defend after Tariq Aziz (5-30) had made the most of the stop-start nature of the afternoon.

Chris Ellison’s 50 from 67 balls and 38 from Neil Mulvaney had given the visitors some hope, particularly as the hosts had just 41 overs left to them to chase, but Robbie Atherton (64 from 45 balls with 14 fours, after taking 2-45) provided a terrific boost to the run rate. With Liam Irving anchoring the job with 55 not out, and support from Rameez Nawaz (26) and Tariq Aziz (22), South Hetton won by five wickets in the dying moments of the game.

Sacriston (171-7) drew at Willington (207-5), while Felling defeated Tudhoe by 31 runs to send their beaten opponents to the foot of the table.