HETTON Lyons, runners-up in 2014, were happy enough with their opening day performance at South Shields which saw them garner 16 points to place them third in the fledgling league table.
Despite playing without overseas star Lal Kumar, the Lyons still turned in an encouraging performance, with the evergreen Allan Worthy adding another 119 runs to his record career aggregate, although he was quick to deflect praise towards two of the up and coming youngsters in the side.
Josh Coughlin, brother of Durham’s Paul, is a 17-year-old all-rounder and, at six foot three inches, is already impressing with his seamers and batting.
He made 20 and grabbed three wickets at Shields, with Worthy remarking: “Josh did really well. One of his wickets was their Aussie pro who had already made 80-odd and then he also took a classy catch at slip.
“Another youngster to look out for is Cameron Grimwood, who, although he is only 16, already hits a long ball and bowls useful slow left arm. The club wants to bring these and other youngsters on and push them forward.
“These two lads certainly look like they are ones to watch out for.”
Lyons hope to be at full strength for their first home game of the season, with Kumar booked on a flight from Pakistan that will have him in the country before Saturday.
Their visitors to Lilywhite Terrace are Tynemouth, who suffered the worst of starts last week when they were hammered by 205 runs at Stockton, and they are therefore thankful to have both Nick Armstrong and Marcus Turner available for their first games of the campaign.
By contrast, Chester-le-Street could not be happier with the start they made as they brushed aside the challenge of Gateshead Fell by 67 runs to gain a maximum 30 points.
With their batters, in particular, in free-flowing form, they will be confident of maintaining the early season impetus when they welcome Whitburn to Ropery Lane.
The Cestrians, unsurprisingly, name an unchanged side, although they are quick to point out that they have some promising youngsters, such as Stephen Cantwell and Josh Wilson pressing first-teamers for their places if they underperform.
Whitburn make one change to their line-up, with Durham’s Paul Coughlin selected for his seasonal debut in place of Harry Thursby.
South Shields could take many positives from their game against the Lyons, with young Aussie Tom David picking up where he left off last season with a top-scoring 85.
His partnership with Gordon Muchall (62) was worth 101 runs, and looked likely to provide the base for an opening day victory, but, in the end, it was not quite to be with the loss of three late wickets thwarting Shields’ ambitions.
They go to Blaydon on Saturday, with their hosts still trying to work out how they failed to win their opener away to Whitburn.
With Gordon Muchall likely to be unavailable, Shields will look to blood one of their younger players, while their hosts will stick with the same team.
Gateshead Fell, who go to Denton Bank to take on Benwell Hill, bring in Andy Etherington and David Hill, a new recruit from Sunderland, to replace Jonny Roseby and Michael Elliott.
Stockton play at home for the second week running but have to reckon without Durham batting match-winner Keaston Jennings when they entertain Newcastle, and South North have resigned themselves to being without star bowler Stephen Humble for the next month or so as he recovers from a dislocated shoulder.
Sunday sees the first round of Royal London National Club Championship matches, with Chester-le-Street at home to Harrogate, and Whitburn travelling to Stockton.