Eppleton stand one win away from glory after coming out on top in their battle with title rivals Burnmoor.
Having led the way for most of the summer, Eppleton were able to handle the pressure of the big occasion, a three-wicket win over their old Durham Senior League adversaries taking them into the final weekend seven points clear of Washington.
Moor, seeking to achieve the amazing feat of winning four consecutive championships across three different leagues, looked to have the upper hand at the interval after posting a total of 227-9 declared in 48.5 overs.
Stephen Meek (94) was their talisman, cracking 16 fours and two sixes before becoming one of David Wilkinson’s three victims. With Neil Young adding 64 in good time, and Irosh Samarasooriya adding 25, Eppleton looked to have it all to do.
David Wilkinson bagged 3-33 and Craig Scurr 3-43, with Paul Davidson striking twice.
Eppleton’s reply couldn’t have got off to a more difficult start as Sean Tindale (4-63) bowled star man Kyle Davis for a duck. Skipper Graham Hoban (31) then settled in with Gary Burlinson (59), and, with Kamran Shah adding 31, and Joe Dodd 28, Calum Jefferson had enough petrol in the tank from his partners to see Eppleton to their win with 49 not out.
Washington, meanwhile, were going for broke against Boldon, and it paid off as they secured a 75-run victory that will embolden them in the final set of fixtures this coming Saturday.
As soon as their ninth wicket fell, Washington declared on 181-9, youngsters Matthew Potts their top scorer with 58 from 101 balls. Joe Thompson made 25, with Martin Hubber adding 22 and James Thompson 20.
Tommy Nixon (4-54) and Joe Coyne (4-46) did the spade work for Boldon, but then their batting crumbled in the face of some fine bowling from Melvyn Betts (4-38) and Jak Gaff (4-37), who shared eight cheap wickets.
Only Durham’s Stu Poynter, with 41 from 52 balls, was able to resist for any length of time, but when he fell with the score on 68 it heralded a collapse where four wickets went down for two runs to signal the beginning of the end for the visitors. They were eventually bowled out for just 106.
Boldon stand in the way of Eppleton glory this weekend.
They entertain the table-topper, while Washington go to South Hetton to play a team already consigned to relegation following their nine-wicket beating by Willington.
Tariq Aziz (80 from 111 balls) stood defiantly alone in the South Hetton ranks as they succumbed for 145, the home team then knocking off the runs in 38.1 overs.
Seaham Harbour notched up win number six of their season, defeating Sacriston by eight wickets, with skipper Ian Pattison in blistering from as he cracked five fours and six sixes in a 42-ball innings of 72 not out. Harbour sailed home in just 20.3 overs after being set 123.
Sunderland lost their Ashbrooke clash with Tudhoe by four wickets despite recovering well from a difficult start when three wickets were lost for 11 runs.
Usman Arshad (37) and Chris Youldon (42) began the fightback, before Chris Dorothy, with nine fours and two sixes, took the Wearsiders to 179-5, with an unbeaten 75. In the end, Tudhoe eased to their win inside 31 overs, Dean Thexton (44) leading the way. Khan grabbed 3-43.
Felling managed to defend a modest 113 against Brandon, who were 60-1 at one stage before nine wickets went down in a heap for 29 runs, Dinesh Jayamuni bagging a remarkable 7-18 as the visitors crashed to 89 all out.