SUNDERLAND’S season-long reign as leaders of the Dukes ECB NEPL is over – for the time being at least.
Defeat for only the second time saw Blaydon, their main challengers and the only remaining unbeaten side, leapfrog them as they bid for their first ever championship crown.
Sunderland suffered their second defeat in successive games when second-bottom Tynemouth came to Ashbrooke, and it was enough to send them tumbling down to third place as not only Blaydon won for a seventh time but South North made the most of their visit to Benwell Hill, one of the teams struggling to get out of the bottom three.
Sunderland, haunted by the defeat against Newcastle the previous weekend, were bowled out for just 72 runs as Tynemouth’s Mark Wood (3-22) and David Hymers (3-17) made the most of a helpful wicket.
Hymers bowled five maidens in 13 overs and Wood didn’t concede a run in four of his 12 overs as the leaders’ batting collapsed.
There was a brief second wicket stand between Dan Shurben and Michael Turns, who made half of the side’s runs between them, but they were out for their lowest total in 15 games.
Durham paceman Ruel Brathwaite did his best to rescue Sunderland as he grabbed four wickets in conceding just 31 runs and Kieran Waterson chipped in with two wickets, but Tynemouth’s Patrick Botha, who had contributed to Sunderland’s downfall with two wickets of his own, figured in an unbeaten seventh-wicket stand which saw the visitors triumph.
Blaydon’s win was against the high flying Chester-le-Street who had key players missing and couldn’t cope with the power of their hosts.
Graeme Bridge (66 not out) and Geoff Stewart (34 not out) figured in an unbroken sixth-wicket stand which provided the perfect back up to Cole McConchie (57) and Allan Worthy (34). They declared on 253-5 after 60 overs at the crease and then bowled out the Cestrians for 172 in 19 overs less.
McConchie (5-43) and Bridge (3-35) bowled just over half the 40.5 overs between them to underline their all round match winning ability.
For Chester, Andrew Smith (52) and opener George Harrison (35) offered early promise of a run chase but despite resistance from David Martin and last man David Wilson, who each scored 27, Blaydon ended the strongest.
The Bulls charged from fourth to second place, just eight points behind the new leaders, by virtue of a crushing victory at Benwell Hill.
The champions were in devastating form as they declared on 249-2 following a maiden century for Sam Jobson. He hit 17 fours and two sixes as he reached the milestone from 111 balls and went on to finish unbeaten on 118.
Adam Cragg hit 66 from just 46 balls with 10 boundaries and Adam Heather opened with 48. Benwell responded with 141, including 60 from Dan Young with 11 fours, but Stephen Humble (3-16) and Paul Coughlin (3-21) turned the game in South North’s favour.
A six-wicket win for Hetton Lyons after bowling out South Shields for just 89, and a first win of the season for bottom club Gateshead Fell at Newcastle, were other features of a weekend in which Durham Academy were held to a draw by Stockton for whom South African Keaton Jennings hit a century and took three wickets against his former team-mates.