SUNDERLAND shot to the top of the early season Dukes ECB NEPL table as they trounced Newcastle in the Wear-Tyne derby at Ashbrooke.
While all the recent rain provided helpful conditions, the Newcastle batsmen were caught out by some accurate bowling and played one or two injudicious shots to aid the Sunderland cause, slumping to 54 all out in just 18 overs.
Those overs were shared by Chris Rushworth and Kieran Waterson, who followed the simple principle of bowling straight to fully test the visitors.
Eight of the wickets to fall were either lbw or bowled as Rushworth picked up 4-24 and Waterson continued his excellent start to the season with a six-wicket haul that left Newcastle reeling
Mark Dale then made 20, the top score of the day, as Sunderland took just under 16 overs to knock off the runs and record their first victory of a campaign that looks set to have quite a few twists and turns.
Chester-le-Street bounced straight back from their defeat the previous week to overwhelm Gateshead Fell by 177 runs at Ropery Lane in a display of superiorty that suggests they still have the golden touch.
While Fraser Campbell chipped in with his maiden half-century for the club, it was a display of class from Andrew Smith that really took the eye.
He cracked 10 fours and a six before eventually falling six runs short of a deserved century, his 94 coming from just 96 balls and enabling the Cestrians to declare after 57 overs on 270-8.
Gateshead crumbled from the off, at one time standing on 34-6 before eventually succumbing for 93 in the 31st over as Andrew Bell chimed in with a return of five for 32.
Hetton Lyons enjoyed home success over Stockton in a game that witnessed a number of highs and lows.
At 93-3 and Jarvis Clay on 45, the Lyons looked poised for a decent score, but once he fell, the others showed feet of clay as the last seven wickets crashed for just eight runs, a disbelieving John Tindale left stranded on 26 not out.
But cock-a-hoop Stockton went straight into a nosedive of their own, losing their first two wickets without scoring, slumping to 12-4 and 34-6 before eventually crashing to an all out 76.
New signing Anthony Watson roared for the Lyons with an impressive 6-24, while Ryan Pringle just did what he normally does by bagging the other four for 20 runs.
Gordon Muchall had a huge hand in South Shields’ excellent win at Benwell Hill.
The Durham man held Shields together as they successfully chased down a target of only 119, his unbeaten 49 making the difference as he guided his team home from a nerve-jangling 86-6.
Earlier he had picked up 3-21 which, along with brother Mattie (3-23 in 15.3 overs), kept the Hill batsmen in check.
In the day’s other games, there was a sensational collapse by champions South North at Blaydon and the Durham Academy toppled Tynemouth.
Having disposed of Blaydon for a meagre 129 it looked like business as usual for the Bulls, but they were skittled for 49, one of their lowest-ever totals and they were perhaps fortunate to get that after being 14-7 at one stage.
Skipper Ben Debnam’s 67 was not enough to prevent his Tynemouth team losing by three wickets to an Academy team inspired by 16 year-old Adam Hickey, whose unbeaten 48 sealed a three-wicket win.