THE season’s final day in the Dukes North East Premier League ended in high drama with South Northumberland retaining the championship in the most sensational way.
Trailing by 18 points to Blaydon, they snatched the silverware for the eighth time in ten years, and amazingly this was the third time in six years they had looked as if they would finish as runners-up only to find the team in poll position crashing out in the very last game.
Blaydon hadn’t lost all season so their first defeat wasn’t even considered a possibility before their game with Tynemouth who had struggled for most of the campaign, winning on just three occasions. The Bulls had lost once, but retained their ruthless efficiency to hammer South Shields, rattling up an impressive 258-8 and declaring to give themselves extra time to bowl out their opponents.
This they duly did with Lee Crozier spinning them to victory with five wickets in 14 overs in which he conceded just 36 runs. Shields lasted just 43.5 overs at the crease with opener Chris Watson, who made 24, their highest scorer out of a disappointing total of 136.
With their game finished, the spotlight moved to Blaydon where initially there was no indication of the shock result to come. The potential champions amassed 233-7 in 60 overs before declaring, and looked good for what would have been their first ever title win.
But a trio of batsmen had other ideas and with more than 11 overs to spare Tynemouth had ruined the party. Patrick Botha (76), Phil Morse (68) and Mark Wood (41no) broke Blaydon’s hearts as they won by six wickets.
Sunderland had suffered their heartache earlier in the season when a loss of form saw them lose their way in the championship race. They had high hopes when they headed the table, but at least they ended on a positive note on Saturday as they defeated Hetton Lyons by six wickets.
The Lyons posted 220 with Jack Burnham top scoring with 83 and Ryan Pringle contributing 57. But Chris Youldon (65) and Chris Rushworth (54) shared a partnership which saw Sunderland outplay their rivals.
Durham Academy finished in fifth place after a seven wicket final day win over bottom club Gateshead Fell who take the wooden spoon.
Four wickets for Ryan Buckley was the highlight as Fell could manage no more than 141 batting first. Graham Clark, with an unbeaten 47, led the Academy to an impressive win even though they lost all three wickets in a mid-innings spell when just six runs were scored.
Chester-le-Street took out their T20 frustrations on hapless Stockton to finish third, in the end just 25 points adrift of their fierce rivals South North.
John Coxon hit a superb unbeaten century at a run a ball with 13 boundaries, and Gary Scott hit 72 in a fourth wicket partnership worth 128. After posting a formidable 302-5 in 60 overs the Cestrians then took the first five Stockton wickets with just three runs on the board, the Teessiders eventually scrambling up to 108 before conceding inevitable defeat.