NE Premier League: Chester-le-Street gear up for huge double header

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Chester-le-Street face another momentous weekend in their quest for an unprecedented triple crown, with Ropery Lane the venue for two crucial games on the road to conquering the club kingdom.

After their bowling unit came good in last week’s Premier Division victory over Stockton when the Teessiders had at one time threatened to chase down a target of 240-9, the Cestrians are confident that they can maintain their form into the final weeks of the campaign.

Victory over Saturday’s visitors, Benwell Hill, would set them up perfectly for the big showdown next weekend when they go to Roseworth Terrace to take on South North.

The Hill have been hugely inconsistent this season, although they do appear to have recovered their composure over the last month or so after that horrendous mid-summer spell in which they were bowled out for 29, 60 and 75 in consecutive weeks, but Chester will start that one as heavy favourites.

And that will also be the case when they entertain Pudsey Congs on Sunday (1pm) in the Northern Area final of the National Club T20 competition.

The winners of the game qualify for the national T20 finals day, which will be held at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff on Tuesday, September 1.

The Cestrians have finally said goodbye to Graeme Cessford after his RAF posting, but they do have the influential Quentin Hughes back.

Whitburn and Hetton Lyons also have important weekends, the two sides meeting at Horden on Sunday in a repeat of the 2014 Profound DSL Cup final.

This should provide some relative relief for Whitburn after the rigours of their league campaign where defeat last week at the hands of Gateshead Fell plunged them back into the relegation mix.

Just 22 points now cover the bottom four, and while Whitburn are the best placed of the struggling quartet they do need to make the most of their home game against Stockton on Saturday.

But they will have to do so without leading run-scorer Dan Shurben, Paul Shields replacing him in the side with Neil Ayre returning from work commitments.

Durham’s Keaton Jennings will feature for the Teessiders.

Profound holders Hetton, who are delighted that Josh Coughlin received a call-up for Durham’s second XI this week, name an unchanged line-up for their weekend double which begins with a home game against in-form Newcastle. The Tynesiders have won their last four games on the trot to move into a clear third place in the Premier table.

In Saturday’s other games, South Shields entertain Gateshead Fell, South North will be missing Jimmy Miller when they go to Blaydon, who have Ross Nicholson and Phil Miller returning, and it’s salvation on the Tynemouth agenda as they seek crucial league points against Durham Academy after slipping to second-bottom spot following a run of one win in eight.