Sunderland hold on to deny leaders

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A BATTLING performance by Sunderland as they held Dukes North East Premier League Premier Division champions-elect South North on their own patch enabled them to gain some satisfaction from a difficult season, and it also held out a glimmer of hope for Hetton Lyons as they were able to lop 15 points off the Bulls’ advantage over them.

The Wearsiders attack did a pretty decent job in pinning South North down to a 60-over total of 244-5, with Imran Shah (3-28) and Arsalan Rahim (2-38) picking up the wickets to fall.

Home skipper John Graham hit seven fours and two sixes in his 105-ball 74, but a measure of Sunderland’s accuracy was provided by Adam Heather’s stay at the crease which lasted 151 balls while he scored 51 runs.

Sunderland’s response was determined, and it was Rahim who provided the necessary glue as he lost partners on a regular basis. Shah made 26, but his innings was the top-scoring effort after Rahim’s impressive 93 not out, which included 14 fours and one six in a 138-ball stay at the crease.

The visitors ended their 60 overs on a comfortable 211-7 to take nine hard-earned points, a return that was six more than their relegation rivals, Gateshead Fell.

The Fell went down heavily at Hetton, losing by 156 runs, and it now looks impossible for them to avoid the dreaded drop as they are 39 points behind Sunderland. Lal Kumar inflicted maximum damage in a swashbuckling innings of 146, the Pakistani crashing nine sixes and 17 other boundaries while facing just 126 balls.

He was given impressive support by Jarvis Clay (72) in a stand of 160.

Lyons roared to 253-6 before declaring in the 53rd over.

A dejected Gateshead were then unbundled out for 97 in 33 overs, Chris Varley bringing the game to a rapid conclusion with 3-5 in three overs as the last seven wickets fell for 17 runs.

The Lyons are now 33 points behind the Bulls, so the dream lives on ... just.

Chester-le-Street inflicted a massive 162-run hammering on Durham Academy. The feature of the Cestrians’ first innings total of 274-8 in 58 overs was an eighth-wicket partnership of 113 which took the home score from an uncomfortable 157-7 to a cosy 270-8,

Liam Simpson (51 not out from 77 balls) and Andrew Bell (62 from 62 balls with five sixes) forming the unlikely alliance that gave their team dominance.

The Academy then lost both openers for ducks as Simpson and Bell transferred their expertise from bat to ball, and despite some defiant backs to the wall batting typified by Asher Hart’s 79-ball 10 not out, the youngsters eventually succumbed for just 112. Simpson ended with 3-28, and Bell 4-22.

With the primary target of consolidation in the top division secured some weeks ago, Whitburn let their guard slip by going down to a 47-run home defeat at the hands of Tynemouth, who leapfrogged them in the league standings.

Five wickets from Michael Turns put Whitburn in the driving seat, his introduction causing a Tynemouth slide from 59-0 to 162 all out.

But Stuart Walker’s opening 41 was then the only innings of note as the home team crumbled for 115 with Andrew Smith accelerating the downfall with 5-23 from his deadly 11 overs.