SATURDAY gave Sunderland and Hetton Lyons little to cheer about as both lost their games against Chester-le-Street and Stockton respectively.
The Lyons, defeated for a second successive week, came under the cosh as Stockton took another step towards winning the Dukes North East Premier League Premier Division title for the first time.
Hetton posted 222 from 64 overs, with half-centuries from Jack Burnham and Jarvis Clay and further useful contributions from Shaun Birbeck (39) and Jonny Malkin (30).
Burnham’s 58 included 10 boundaries while Clay had seven fours in exactly 50.
But Jamie Harrison continued his dynamic form to take five wickets from 17 overs, and, along with the always reliable Richard Waite (4-67 in 20 overs), made sure the Lyons never got too far out of reach.
Stockton got their usual confident start from Keaton Jennings (58 from 76 balls) before Matthew Brown hit an unbeaten 85, with 14 boundaries from 92 balls faced, and the leaders won comfortably by six wickets in just 50 overs.
Chester-le-Street regained second place as they beat Sunderland by 36 runs at Ashbrooke. Liam Simpson enjoyed one of his most successful days with his eight-wicket blast accompanying his efforts in being second highest run-scorer.
His 29, along with an unbeaten 48 from Andrew Bell, lifted the Cestrians to 175 after they had been 64-6 at one stage. Arsalan Rahim (48) and Michael Nunn (34 not out) then staged a late fightback to lift the Wearsiders from a disastrous 50-7, but Simpson’s outstanding 8-40 proved to be the match-winning contribution.
Teenager Adam Whatley added to the weekend joy of his fellow countrymen playing just a few miles away in the historic Ashes Test at the Emirates ICG when he became the player-of-the-day in the league.
The 18-year-old from Sydney, who joined Gateshead Fell as an overseas player at the start of the summer, produced an outstanding all-round performance which helped lift his side off the bottom of the table and provided them with hope that they might avoid relegation.
The team against whom he scored a superb century and also took vital wickets, South Shields, have now reluctantly changed places with the Fell and face the prospect of playing in the First Division next year unless they can turn around a season in which they have yet to win a game.
Whatley hit 107, his second century of the summer, as his side successfully chased 207 to beat Shields by an impressive margin of six wickets.
He turned on his powerful display alongside Sam Roseby, another blossoming teenager who hit an unbeaten 59. Earlier, Whatley played a key role with the ball by taking three wickets, and alongside Andy Porter (3-40) and Jaspreet Singh (2-60), helped keep Shields within striking distance at 206 all out.
After starting the game three points ahead of Fell, Shields finished it 15 points behind them and face a worrying last six games.
Stephen Humble’s six wickets set South North on their way to a six-wicket win over Durham Academy, while Jacques du Toit (82no) and Ben Raine (50no) shared a 140-run match-winning partnership to lift Newcastle from 20-3 to a seven-wicket win over Tynemouth, and Zohaib Khan’s 6-33 could not save Benwell Hill from a seven-run defeat at Blaydon.