IT was a great day for the neutrals as leaders Seaham Harbour were sunk without trace to throw the race for the championship wide open.
Champions Boldon CA are suddenly right back in the frame after toppling the leaders by a massive 122 runs with a battling performance from start to finish.
Boldon responded to the make-or-break challenge, moving to within 12 points of the top as they bowled out the leaders for just 53 after declaring their own innings on 175-9.
David Batty top scored with an unbeaten 35 after Lee Jackson’s knock of 34 stopped a potential CA collapse as Anthony Watson (6-27) threatened to run through the early batting.
However, there was no stopping the Seaham slide when Tommy Nixon (5-28) and Carl Watson (4-20) got to work, only two of the Harbour batsmen reaching double figures as they were shot to pieces in the most dramatic of ways.
Local rivals Seaham Park also benefitted from Harbour’s defeat, cutting the gap from 25 to just four points as they capitalised on second place.
They enjoyed a comfortable win over bottom club Murton, who were bowled out for only 77, with 17-year-old pace bowler Alistair Watson (7-23) in devastating form.
His figures earned him the man-of-the-match rating, despite 70 from just 51 balls for Stuart Pattison as the Park posted 170-7.
Hylton stayed in the championship fight despite defeat at the hands of Bill Quay, one of a trio of clubs on the fringe of the title race.
Four wickets for David Brown and three for Mark Cuskeran had Hylton struggling after a decent start and the 144 runs they managed fell short of their expectations. Nevertheless, they fought back to take eight Bill Quay wickets before the game was lost.
Silksworth (191-9) clung on for a draw at Easington despite the home side having two centurions in their rank.
Ryan Higgins (103no) and David Tarn (100) were irresistible as they powered their side to a score of 271-5, but the Silks fought hard to avoid defeat as Paul Smailes led the resistance with an opening 55,
Shoaib Akhtar was at his brilliant best with the ball for Dawdon. His searing spell of 12 overs, eight maidens and six wickets for 17 runs shattered Peterlee, who collapsed to 98 all out.
That total that did not pose any problems for Dawdon as Stephen Gale (47no) and Jamie Greenwood (38no) rattled off the 10-wicket win inside 20 overs.
The inevitable happened at Ryhope, where two draw specialists clashed.
Steve Cuthbertson hit nine fours and a six as Washington put on 222 in 48.4 overs and Lee Gilbert turned the heat up with 13 fours and a six in his 82.
However, when he departed, Ryhope’s hopes went with him and they closed the game down on 179-8.
H Sacriston kept in the hunt for NTSL glory with an impressive 81-run victory over Burnopfield.
A 57 from Harry Hubber and a 45 from Melvyn Betts took Sacriston up to 225 and then Kendal Ballard’s four wickets broke Burnopfield’s back as they slumped to 145 all out.