Sunderland’s race is run for another year after they managed to take just eight points from their Dukes North East Premier League bank holiday game against champions elect Blaydon yesterday.
The weather once again had a major say in proceedings, lopping off 37 overs of play and leaving insufficient time for either side to force a victory at Denefield, although Blaydon came out with a decent return of 15 points to keep their title dream well and truly alive.
The home team posted a more than useful score of 216-6 in 45 overs, leaving the Wearsiders with just 38 overs to go for victory, a task that proved beyond them as they eventually closed out on 160-8.
Kiwi Cole McConchie was the kingpin for Blaydon, blasting 86 from 92 balls, including 12 fours and three sixes in a superb exhibition of strokeplay.
Sunderland skipper Dan Shurben then raised spirits with a run-a-ball 41, but with Craig Simpson picking up five wickets from his 12 overs it became too big an ask for the visitors .
South North look like chasing Blaydon right to the end – they took 27 points from their home win over Tynemouth to cut the leaders’ advantage to 19 points with two games to go.
They charged to 160-6 in just 27 overs before making a bold declaration that left their opponents 50 overs to get the runs. But Tynemouth were routed by Steve Humble (4-18) and Lee Crozier (4-20) and crumbled to 79 all out.
There were bank holiday blues for a number of teams as their games were brought to rapid conclusions, Newcastle being flattened by Chester-le-Street and Stockton being stung by South Shields.
The Cestrians rolled Newcastle over for just 59, a trio of deadly bowlers combining to blow the Tynesiders away in 29.3 overs. Graeme Cessford started the rot with an 11 over spell of 4-27, and then Andrew Bell (3-5) and Liam Simpson (3-7) completed the demolition as Newcastle lost their last nine wickets for a paltry 18 runs.
Chester then rattled off the required target in 7.3 overs for the loss of three wickets as Simon Birtwisle led the charge with 26 from 15 balls.
Mattie Muchall was simply unplayable. He bowled unchanged for 12 overs to claim a magnificent eight wickets for 34 runs against visiting Stockton, and had the extra satisfaction of claiming a hat-trick in his final over. The shell-shocked Teessiders were bundled out for 65 in 23.1 overs, Richard Waite scoring 38 of those.
The Shieldsmen then had the game won inside 12 overs as Chris Dorothy cracked 6 fours and a six in a quickfire 41, the home team securing only their fourth victory of the summer with eight wickets to spare.
Elsewhere, Hetton Lyons were nine-wicket winners at Gateshead Fell, the bottom club bowled out for 131 in 44.2 overs. It took just 17.3 overs for Lyons to notch up the win as Jarvis Clay smashed an unbeaten 83.
Rain was the only winner at Denton Bank, with Durham Academy 58-0 after 15 overs after hosts Benwell Hill made 187-6.