Dukes North East Premier
League Premier Division
Eppleton broke their Premier Division duck in the most dramatic of fashions to move well clear of the danger zone on Saturday.
But it wasn’t a day for the batting purists at Wood Terrace as 16 wickets fell while just 77 runs were scored in an afternoon of carnage.
South Shields’ first mistake was to win the toss. The home side opted to bat and things weren’t all that bad in the opening stages, despite the loss of Tim David.
Shields advanced to 30-2 with Durham batsman Gordon Muchall at the crease, but then former player, Liam Dixon, came back to haunt the home team.
Dixon was Shields’ leading wicket-taker in 2015, but he was in Eppleton colours on this occasion, and when he had Muchall caught behind it started a remarkable collapse which saw eight wickets fall for just eight runs, the last five going down while just two were added.
Dixon ended with a hugely impressive 6-11 from his 11 overs, while, at the other end, Paul Davidson picked off the rest with 4-22.
The seeming formality of the run chase (39 to win) then turned into something akin to panic when Eppleton slipped to 25-5, Matty Muchall (4-24) doing his level best to restore home pride, but it was always going to be a case of trying to defend the indefensible and the visitors staggered across the winning line with four wickets intact, Paul Coughlin unbeaten on 10. Dean Musther made 15.
Durham Academy have endured a difficult start to their campaign, and while they lost once more on Saturday they very nearly upset the Newcastle applecart before going down to a single wicket defeat with just two balls of the match remaining.
Debutant Ross Greenwell showed grit and determination in abundance as he opened out with seven fours and three sixes in a 162-ball 92, and with Josh Coughlin cracking 58 at a run-a-ball the Academy youngsters piled on 251-6 in 65 overs.
Jacques du Toit was the Newcastle stand-out with the ball, his 20 overs producing figures of 3-46, and then he spearheaded the run chase with nine fours and five sixes in his 83 made from just 53 balls faced. George Harding eventually trapped him, and then began to turn the tide in the Academy’s favour as seven wickets fell for 51 runs.
Newcastle slid from 181-2 to 232-9, but, with Harding bowled out after picking up six wickets, the Tynesiders’ final pairing of James Carding (19no) and Callum Harding (7no) held their nerve to add the 20 runs needed for the most dramatic of victories.
It was all change at the top of the Premier Division as the leaders at the start of the day, South North, came out on the wrong side of a draw at Hetton Lyons, their stumble allowing a vibrant Tynemouth to take over as pacesetters with an outstanding display at Ropery Lane.
Lyons bared their teeth from the start. Pakistani pro Faiz Fazal was once again in imperious form. With Jonny Malkin keeping him splendid company in a rousing opening stand of 198, the Bulls were cornered.
Fazal was first to go, having made 108 from 163 balls, Malkin joining him soon afterwards for 82, but their job had been done and despite the champions fighting their way back to some extent, the home team still finished with an impressive 288-6 in 65 overs.
With just 55 overs to bat, South North were never up with the required rate despite half-centuries from Simon Birtwisle and Marcus North, Ben Whitehead the main thorn in their side as he bagged 4-52 in 20 overs.
The Bulls finished on a timid 188-6, exactly 100 runs shy of their hosts.
One of Tynemouth’s finest hours came at Chester-le-Street as they became the new leaders.
After bowling the Cestrians out for 214, John Coxon making 55 not out and Quentin Hughes 50, they rattled off the target with eight wickets and more than six overs to spare. A five-wicket burst from Andrew Smith set up the victory chance, and then a 155-run partnership between Nick Armstrong (92 not out) and Stu Poynter (90 from 99 balls) sealed the deal. Tynemouth went two points clear as a result.
Whitburn managed to eke out a draw at Denton Bank after conceding 297-7 in 58 overs to Benwell Hill, with Jeremy Benton bagging 4-58 and Ian Elliot 2-76. Kyle Coetzer hit 90 for Benwell.
In the Villagers’ reply, Joe Coyne dug in with an unbeaten 84 from 140 balls as Whitburn closed on 223-8, backed by Daniel Woolstone (38), Ross Carty (31) and Mark Elliott (31).