IT WAS a clear case of too little too late as both Sunderland and Chester-le-Street recorded thumping wins on the penultimate day of the Dukes ECB NEPL league season.
Despite the Wearsiders being 155 runs better than Benwell Hill, and the Cestrians crushing Tynemouth by 10 wickets, it looks like being Blaydon’s title after they pulled off a 113-run win at Jesmond to keep their noses 18 points in front of second-placed South North.
Sunderland took their 2012 leave of Ashbrooke in emphatic style, rattling up 267-4 before bowling out hapless Benwell for just 104. A third wicket stand of 107 between Chris Youldon (57) and Ashley Thorpe gave the Wearsiders lift off, and then Chris Hooker (60 in 65 balls) joined Thorpe in another century partnership. The declaration eventually came when Thorpe reached his century scored from 137 balls.
If Benwell thought it was tough in the field, their misery was compounded by an abject display with the bat which saw them slump to 17-6 before Dan Young restored some pride with a half century.
But that was merely delaying the inevitable as Ruel Brathwaite, Kieran Waterson and Jaspreet Singh all bagged three wickets to leave Hill helpless.
Tyed in knots – that was Tynemouth’s fate as they became the most recent victims of the Aussie’s scintillating form.
Andrew Tye sent down 12 searing overs, eight of which were maidens, to pick up five wickets for just 10 runs as Chester-le-Street bowled out hosts Tynemouth for a paltry 78. Simon Birtwisle (41no) and skipper Quentin Hughes (39no) then left the home team pointless.
Mattie Muchall became the first bowler to reach the 50 league wickets milestone as South Shields heaped more misery on bottom club Gateshead Fell.
Shields made 227 first up, the highlight being a third wicket partnership between Gordon Muchall (76) and Rameez Shahzad (48) worth 117, but then Gateshead worked their way back into the game through Andy Porter (6-55) and it took a ninth wicket stand of 74 between Mattie Muchall (35) and Kris McShane (34) to save home blushes.
Muchall then grabbed the glory of being the first to 50 with a 10.3 over spell of 4-18 that took his league tally to 53 wickets at an impressive average of 10.3.
Durham Academy look certain to finish in the top half of the table after inflicting an 80-run defeat on the team who could have overtaken them, Hetton Lyons.
The youthful Lyon cubs were unable to get anywhere near the Academy’s declared total of 189-9 in which Jack Clark top scored with 43, being bowled out for just 109 as Ryan Buckley (4-23) led an incisive attack.
South North ensured the title race would go into the final games of the season with a seven wicket win at Stockton, but their hopes of catching Blaydon appear to be fading fast after the table toppers defeated Newcastle by 113 runs with the most effective of all-round team performances.
That victory means they need just 13 from their final home game against Tynemouth to be crowned champions.