For a team supposedly suffering from a loss of players, Sunderland are doing remarkably well.
The Wearsiders saw a number of established faces leave the club over the close-season, but they’ve shrugged off that disappointment in remarkable fashion.
On Saturday, they produced one of their most convincing performances ever in the NEPL as they swamped hosts Tynemouth by 172 runs.
The loss of a couple of early wickets only proved a spur to Sunderland, who recovered their composure through skipper Dan Shurben (33) and new boy Arsalan Rahim (40), before Greg Applegarth provided the lift off with a brilliant 123.
With Mitch Claydon rattling up a quickfire 45, the shell-shocked home attack went for an eye-watering 301-6.
Claydon (4-69) then combined with Kieran Waterson (5-35) to blow away the Tynemouth resistance as the hosts slumped to 127 all out.
The nature of the victory secured a maximum points haul which lifted Sunderland to third place in the fledgling table.
On the way up they passed Chester-le-Street who suffered a 47 run defeat at the hands of Stockton, in their ‘home’ game at Maiden Castle.
Durham star Keaton Jennings has suffered a difficult time in the county championship so far this season, but he set about putting that right with a workmanlike century which set the Teessiders on their way to a total of 212-9.
Jennings made 111 from 169 balls, hitting 15 boundaries in the process – and how Stockton needed those runs as only former Chester man Richard Waite, with 55, gave any support against the skills of David Foster (6-58).
The Cestrians struggled from the off themselves, and even though John Coxon (64) and Liam Simpson (39) looked capable of repairing the early damage, Waite came back to haunt his old team-mates by picking off the two top scorers and finish with 4-49 as Chester slid to 165 all out.
Blaydon lost a wicket to the second ball of the day at South Shields, but didn’t look back after that with Craig Burke (51), Allan Worthy (77) and Mark Drake (72no) lifting their side to a total of 255-4 in 58 overs.
Shields were then plunged into all sorts of trouble by paceman Danny Evans, who took the first five wickets to fall in a blistering opening salvo that saw the home team slump to 62-8, before a face saving 61 from Chris Dorothy brought some respectability.
But he was just delaying the inevitable, and with Evans fittingly winding up the innings for 140 to close with 6-25, four of those lbws, Blaydon won by 115 runs.
Hetton Lyons were no match for champions South North after Bulls’ skipper John Graham made a brilliant 131 not out, upon his return to action.
Set 227-4 Hetton were rolled over for 122.
In the day’s other matches, Gateshead Fell (245-9) claimed a fighting draw against Newcastle (281-2).
The game at Denton Bank also finished in stalemate as the Academy’s final pair survived 53 balls between them to salvage a draw on 129-9 after being set 247-6 by Benwell Hill.