South North edge nearer title

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Dukes ECB NEPL Premier Division

IT WAS a day of frustration in the NEPL Premier Division as the rains returned to the region with a vengeance, the ferocity of the downpours swamping grounds and leaving a trail of abandoned matches right across the spectrum.

Not a single game went anywhere near the distance in the top flight, something that didn’t worry leaders South North too much as they ended up slightly better off, their lead over Hetton Lyons marginally increased to 47 points, and with just three games left to go it looks all over bar the shouting.

The Bulls initially took their Jesmond game by the horns, Stephen Humble (3-30) bagging three victims as Newcastle crumbled to 2-4 with all four of the dismissed batsmen going for ducks.

Jacques du Toit (59 not out) and James Carding (22 not out) were then in the midst of an impressive rescue act with an unbroken stand of 88 when the game was swamped by another deluge, the home team standing on 90-4 at the early close.

Meanwhile, just up the road at Denton Bank, Hetton Lyons looked in decent fettle after reaching 129-3 in 35.3 overs before their batting parade was rained on.

Gary Scott hit 47 from 76 balls, while Lal Kumar was unbeaten with 44 to his name, but with just one bonus point gained the Lyons hopes of snaring the Bulls in a late charge were dealt a severe blow.

South North picked up two bonus points from their brief foray, and were also handed an additional little bonus that they didn’t really need with Lyons deducted a couple of points by the league executive as an administrative penalty.

There was no play at all at Eastwood Gardens, with Gateshead Fell’s survival hopes effectively washed down the drain along with the flood waters.

The only team they can catch, Sunderland, actually managed 20 overs at Ashbrooke where Chester-le-Street had rushed to 115-2 courtesy of a rousing 71 not out from Andrew Smith who cracked 10 fours and 2 sixes in his 49-ball stay at the crease.

The two other matches saw Blaydon pick up the most points on the day when they took six Tynemouth wickets in 55 overs of play, the home team ending on 147-6, and the Durham Academy had reduced hosts Stockton to 73-5 in 22.2 overs, which was somewhat of an improvement from the early problems they encountered when they lost their first three wickets with just 10 on the board.