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NE Premier League: Burnmoor make their title move as four-team battle hots up

Eppleton Director of Cricket John Smithson (right) leaves the field as players and officials complete their inspection, which saw Saturday's Church Road game delayed
Eppleton Director of Cricket John Smithson (right) leaves the field as players and officials complete their inspection, which saw Saturday's Church Road game delayed
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The Burnmoor bugler was playing a familiar tune as the perennial champions moved level with leaders Eppleton at the top of the First Division.

But the leading pair will not have it all their own way in the three-game run-in as Willington are right on their case, just two points adrift.

Fourth-top Washington are still firmly in the reckoning, too, despite a disappointing return from their home game against Brandon.

The Moor are the merrier though after picking up the full 30 points from the demolition job they did on bottom club South Hetton, who must now face up to the fact that their Premier League days are numbered after they fell 46 points behind the two teams tied for second-bottom spot.

Burnmoor did exactly as they had to, notching up 201-8 in 50 overs to secure the necessary batting points, and then bowling their hosts out in good time to collect the maximum.

Paul Craig, with 11 fours and a six, held Moor’s innings together, his half-century coming up in 54 balls before he was finally out for 72, while Tariq Aziz (4-29 from 15 overs) did his best to keep the visitors in check.

It was then a case of never mind the age gap, just look at the quality, as youngster Sean Tindale (3-25) joined veteran Ian Conn (4-19) in running through the home batting line-up, with South Hetton bundled out for 99 in 27.4 overs.

The win took Burnmoor to 314 points, the same number as overnight leaders Eppleton, who were held to a draw by Tudhoe in a reduced overs game.

Thirteen overs were lopped off the match at Church Road due to the saturated conditions, but Eppleton made the most of their 47 overs at the crease as they notched up 224-4 before declaring, a brilliant unbeaten century from Dean Musther being plundered off just 108 balls., backed by Gary Burlinson (31), Graham Hoban (22) and Kyle Davis (21)

With only 45 overs to try to bowl Tudhoe out, Eppleton used seven bowlers in their attack, but the visitors had little trouble in playing out time on 163-7, Simon Davies (50) and Jamie Kirkbride (45no) leading their resistance despite Kamran Shah’s 3-23 and Paul Davidson’s 2-29.

Willington did their title hopes a power of good with a seven-wicket hammering of Boldon, the game over and done with in a total of 42 overs after the visitors had been rolled over for 73.

Connor Hodgson proved unplayable in a seven-over stint in which he took six wickets for 12 runs, including a hat-trick, and then Will Phillips blasted 30 from 25 balls to seal the success which brought 29 priceless points.

In all, 22 overs were lost from the game at Washington, although initially that didn’t seem to matter too much after Brandon were pinned down to 128-9. Mel Betts bagged 3-11 in 10 overs, with Martin Hubber taking 2-19.

But the home side got themselves in a terrible pickle in the run chase, slumping to 32-5 and then having to opt for safety after their position worsened to 73-8.

They closed on 87-9, Hubber top-scoring on 28, but the seven points they gained from the stalemate saw them drop from second place to fourth, some 10 points off the leading pair.

The day’s other two games both ended in draws, but for Sacriston it looks like their primary aim before the season began of retaining their status has been achieved.

They put on 233-9 at Ashbrooke, Lewis Straughair their mid-order saviour with an 81-ball 87 which lifted his side from a perilous 115-7 to their eventual total. James Davies grabbed 3-65, backed by Elliot Smith’s 2-60.

Rain then cut short Sunderland’s innings, leaving them on 192-3 and needing 42 more from the final four overs.

Greg Applegarth (46 from 56 balls), Michael Nunn (53 from 126 balls) and Bravesh Shetty (76 from 91 balls) looked to be setting up a victory charge, particularly when Nunn and Shetty added 119 in their second-wicket partnership, but, with the approaching storm threatening, it was not to be.

Seaham Harbour (138-9) were clinging on when their game at Felling (197-9) ended, Stuart Walker’s 91 for the home side ensuring he remains well ahead as the division’s top run scorer, with 1,097 now to his credit.

Nilkanth Parab (3-56), Dale Shaw (2-25) and Craig Stephenson (2-41) were the pick of Harbour’s bowlers, with Ian Pattison (38) and Parab (31) top-scoring in their response.

Eppleton’s Banks Salver final at home to Tudhoe yesterday was postponed, and rearranged for September 6.