WASHINGTON and Sacriston made up some vital ground on leaders South Shields, whose march towards promotion in the Dukes North East Premier League’s First Division was held up at Felling.
But Eppleton endured despair as they went down to a surprise defeat at old Durham Senior League rivals Seaham Harbour.
Washington emerged as the newest challengers to South Shields’ supremacy, a handsome victory over Brandon lifting them into second spot, just 34 points behind the leaders.
Brandon’s Chris Winn could count himself unlucky to finish on the losing side – he cracked 12 fours and four sixes on his way to a 109-ball 103 which helped his team set an imposing target of 242-9.
But Washington skipper Ash Thorpe played the perfect innings, 19 boundaries adorning an unbeaten 91 that shepherded his side to a four-wicket victory with time to spare.
A second-wicket partnership of 145 between Tim David (17 fours and a six in 94) and Michael Dunn (86 from 89 balls) boosted Shields to a 50-over declared total of 260-7, but then Chris Goudie thwarted the table-toppers, batting through Felling’s 55-over response to end on 93 not out from 159 balls as the hosts closed on 185-6 to force a draw.
Shields took a decent enough return of 15 points from the stalemate, but challengers Sacriston moved into third spot as they collected 27 from their five-wicket win at Willington.
After back to back victories, Willington were in decent form, and their confidence was such that they elected to bat when winning the toss, but this only handed their visitors the chance to take a strong foothold in the game and this they did as the home team stumbled to 64-5 as Graham Hubber excelled.
A studious half-century from Elliott Foster recovered some stability for the home team, and a typically defiant 62 from 66 balls from Calvin Stephenson, who clattered three sixes, helped earn respectability before Hubber returned to close down the innings for 189, his final figures being 5-33 from 11.4 overs.
The Sacriston run chase was dominated by the second-wicket pairing of Mo Ali and Dan Anderson, the two of them putting on 137 to virtually end the game as a contest.
Victory was eventually achieved by five wickets in the 45th over. Anderson ended with 64 from 114 balls, while Ali hit 17 fours on his way to 95 in 119 balls.
Eppleton looked to be in a good place at the tea interval, having posted a target of 226-9 in 48.5 overs.
Rizwan Ullah was their star turn with 86 from 117 balls, and Craig Scurr clattered three sixes in his 38-ball 45.
But Peter Hambleton (4-48) and Ian Pattison (3-49) had shown admirable accuracy in the Harbour attack, and when Andrew Stephenson (57) and Stewart Pattison (33) put on 71 for the first home wicket it was game on.
After that, consistent runs down the order saw the job through, youngster Dale Shaw (42 from 45 balls) and the usual flamboyance from Shoaib Akhtar (four sixes in 37) headlining as the Harbour eased to an impressive five-wicket win despite three wickets from David Wilkinson.
Bottom club South Hetton proved stubborn opponents for Boldon, with their game ending a closely fought draw after Boldon reached 220-8 in chasing 226-9.
A century from Kamran Shah lit up the South Hetton innings. With skipper Robbie Atherton adding 62 as the pair shared a second-wicket partnership worth 148 runs, the late slump, when six wickets went down for 17 runs, did not seem to matter too much.
Boldon’s challenge was headed by Joe Coyne, his 94 helping put the home team in the ascendancy as their chase reached a promising 164-3.
But then the steady drip of wickets sucked the life out of the challenge and, with Atherton and Omar Shahid sharing six cheap wickets, Boldon had to settle for a share of the spoils.