On a day when two South Shields players became the first to pass the 500 league runs milestone, it was the batting feats of two players in the opposing ranks that were to grab the eventual headlines.
Before the start of play it had looked to be a straight race between Shields’ Gordon Muchall and Newcastle’s Jacques du Toit for the individual accolade, but Shields’ other run machine, Tim David, came bursting through on the rails to follow Muchall into the winners enclosure.
Muchall was first past the post, his 28 in an 87-run second wicket stand against Hetton Lyons just eased out his vibrant Aussie colleague who went on to make 124 from 146 balls in an innings that included five sixes.
But that was about as good as it got for Shields as Ben Whitehead and Erasmus Ockert shared six wickets to leave the visitors with just 208 in total.
For a while that looked as though it might be good enough when Lyons lost their first two wickets with just nine on the board, but the early fall of wickets brought Chris Martin and skipper Jarvis Clay together, and the pair swept away any nerves in a match winning unbroken partnership worth 201 runs.
Martin ended on 103 from 138 balls, the only shame being that his captain couldn’t join him in the century stakes as Clay was left stranded on 95 not out.
In the bigger picture, the victory lifted Lyons into the top half of the table, something that both Whitburn and Eppleton have in their long terms sights.
The two clashed at the Village Ground on Saturday with the home side having to recover from a parlous 69-6 after Liam Dixon added four more victims to his tally as the division’s top wicket taker.
Skipper Ross Carty (36) led a spirited late fightback, and that was to prove the crucial factor, Whitburn going on to make 203 as their last five batsmen all made telling contributions.
Eppleton’s innings went in the opposite direction. Kyle Davis (54 from 69 balls) gave his team hope that victory was achievable as the visitors reached 83-1, but then Jeremy Benton (4-47) and Kieran Waterson struck back spectacularly. 153-5 became 156 all out as five wickets crashed for three runs, Waterson ripping the tail to shreds.
Defeat left Eppleton casting nervous glances towards the foot of the table where Gateshead Fell remain firmly entrenched after another defeat, this one at the hands of leaders Newcastle who won by eight wickets.
The team just above the Fell, Durham Academy, pulled off a remarkable victory at Ropery Lane in a tense low scoring tussle.
The Academy lads whipped out their hosts for 108, but then found themselves in imminent danger of defeat on 97-9 until some last wicket heroics from Asher Hart and manager John Windows.
Hart took the major accolades – after earlier returning outstanding bowling figures of four for six from eight overs, he brought the Cestrians to their knees with an unbeaten 32 as Durham scraped home with one wicket to spare.
In the day’s other top flight games, Tynemouth (194-8) were only able to draw with Benwell Hill (134-8), while champions South North moved into second spot with a functional five wicket home win over Stockton.