Eppleton’s victory ov Saturday was just enough to keep the wolves from the door, at the top of the First Division.
But Washington are huffing and puffing and threatening to blow the house down after they hammered hosts Tudhoe to move to within two points of the leaders.
After Friday’s heavy rain, conditions were likely to suit the team with ball in the hand first thing in the afternoon at Seaham Harbour, and Eppleton made outstanding use of the advantage.
Paul Davidson (4-24) headed a successful four-man strike force who whipped out the home team for just 99 in 41.3 overs. Joe Dodd, Craig Scurr and Zaheer Shahbaz all struck twice.
The run chase was then simplicity itself as the pitch dried out, Dean Musther’s unbeaten 39, and 26 from Graham Hoban, leading the way as the table-toppers eased to an emphatic eight-wicket win inside 26 overs.
The downside for the victors was that they took just 20 points for their efforts while Washington were collecting 25 after being put in at Tudhoe and using up all 55 overs to end on 246-8.
Joe Thompson, in at eight, top-scored on 64, backed by Mel Betts (38), Trent Mais (32), Tom College (24) and Andrew Ebdale (23).
Betts (5-27) then tortured Tudhoe, leaving the home team in tatters on 39-5 before departing the attack and letting others complete the work, although he must have been tempted to come back when Ian Grainger smacked a defiant 81 from 71 balls to at least enable his own team to go down in a blaze of glory. Mark Watson bagged 3-17 and Ebdale 2-24.
Burnmoor were left totally frustrated in their home game against Boldon.
They should have been looking at a comfortable win, but instead they had to content themselves with 16 points for a stalemate as the Sunderland Road boys staged a dramatic rearguard action.
Sean Tindale (81 not out), Paul Craig (60) and Kevin Dixon (46) had given Moor the upper hand as they declared after 52 overs on 218-7.
Boldon’s chase was in desperate trouble from the off, and after 13 overs they had slumped to 59-7 with the game seemingly well and truly up. But the next 40 overs were soaked up first by Tommy Nixon (42) and Anthony Brown (5), before Geoff Sargon (58no) and Ian Male (11no) blocked out the last nine in stoical fashion, defiant Boldon ending on 175-9.
Fourth-top Willington were similarly thwarted at Ashbrooke where hosts Sunderland were clinging on at 207-9 in reply to 241-9, despite another wonderful knock from Greg Applegarth.
Applegarth cracked 23 fours and a six on his way to 126, but with the next top score being extras with 16 there was no one to provide the support that could have changed the outcome.
For Willington, the 16 points kept them in the hunt, just 16 adrift of Eppleton.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, things look pretty desperate for South Hetton after a seven-wicket defeat at Brandon left them 37 points from safety.
Rameez Nawaz blasted 90 from 80 balls, but his defiant gesture couldn’t prevent South Hetton being bowled out for 173, with Robin Ford making 24 and Tony Murphy 19, a total Brandon polished off in just 25.2 overs of batting as Mattie Cowling made 71 not out from 53 balls and Chris Perth 60 off 46.
South Hetton’s problems provided some relief for Sacriston, who were also losers on the day, although they came within 10 runs of visitors Felling after bowling them out for 175.
The home team were left rueing their generosity in allowing Felling to recover from 117-9 as Peter Vinton (49no) found an ally in last-man Jonny Nicholls (14).
Nicholls was then the man causing the Sacriston batsmen problems, his 5-38 enabling a home fightback to 150-7 to be nipped in the bud.