Ryhope tightened their grip on the leadership of Division Two as they defeated Marsden by six wickets on Saturday.
South African Dylan Buckthorpe inspired the important victory.
He bagged 4-28 in his 12 overs to spearhead the home attack as Marsden were rolled over for 103, and then he hit four fours and three sixes in a 39-ball unbeaten half century as the table-toppers won inside 23 overs.
The promotion battle seems to be settling down into a recognizable pattern now, with three main protagonists.
Ryhope’s lead is 15 points from Seaham Park in second and Burnopfield in third, with the top three trio 26 ahead of the rest. A second successive maximum points haul has put Seaham Park in the frame, the latest win coming by five wickets at Evenwood, where the home team were bowled out for 167.
The experienced Dave Hanson picked up 5-46 in an inspired display and Siddharth Chitnis continued to impress as his 12 overs produced figures of 3-21.
The run chase did not begin too well for Park as five wickets fell cheaply, but John Sample (64 not out) and Mark Race (49 not out) combined to see off the hosts. Chitnis hit 32.
Burnopfield are starting to get the hang of their new surroundings and the points system, and they took a maximum haul from their home game against Houghton as Gareth Breese (37 and 5-25) oozed class.
Liam Chaytor top-scored with 32 for the never-say-die Leyburn Grove men who are still looking for their first win since moving up from the North East Durham League.
Burnopfield are now beginning to fulfil the pre-season predictions of success.
A brilliant spell of bowling by Tom Spinks (6-25), followed by nine fours and two sixes in a match-winning 62 not out from Ian King, took Murton through to a two-wicket success at home to Langley Park. Chris Winn added 31 for Murton, after grabbing 3-29 in Langley Park’s innings.
Peterlee earned a battling draw in their game against Whiteleas despite 96 from skipper Ray McRae for the South Tynesiders, with David Garraghan (43) and Aaron Shellie (36) top-scoring for the Newtowners in their 158-6.
Silksworth ended up on the wrong side of a 154-run drubbing at Ushaw Moor after being bowled out for 77 as Tommy Teesdale’s six-wicket haul stole the show.
Earlier, Michael Waterson plundered 3-70 as the pick of the Silksworth bowlers as Ushaw Moor made 231-4.
John Southeran, Lewis Cook and Teesdale all reached the 60s as Ushaw’s batsmen ruled the roost.