On a day when both Sacriston and Boldon fell off the title pace, Sunderland managed to claw back some of the lost ground at the foot of the table, where Seaham Harbour are now back in trouble.
Sunderland’s Greg Applegarth led from the front in the relegation battle at Ashbrooke, the skipper cracking 109 as the Wearsiders amassed a score of 233-9, despite three wickets each from Ian Pattison, Nathan Corkhill and Craig Stephenson.
There was a solid enough start to the Seaham Harbour reply, with Michael Nunn (41) and Mark Marwood (33) providing the perfect opening partnership, but the loss of a couple of quick wickets suppressed ambition and the Harbour lights went out on 142-6. Martin Stephenson added an unbeaten 39.
Sunderland remained bottom after the stalemate, but after taking seven more points from the game than their opponents they moved to within two points of the Harbour, and three of Tudhoe, who fought hard to draw at Burnmoor.
Paul Craig came good for the Moor, blasting eight fours and five sixes on his way to an undefeated century.
With opener Matthew Whaley having already contributed 67, in a third-wicket stand of 115 with Craig, the home team felt confident in declaring on 235-5 after 48 overs, thus giving their opponents a generous 57 to chase the target down.
Skipper Danny Thexton was in prime form for Tudhoe, but, despite being in a good position, the clatter of some late wickets took the wind out of their sails and they settled for the draw on 217-8.
Thexton was 80 not out at the end of the 57th over, with Liam Purdy grabbing 3-53.
Sacriston would have gone top if they’d managed to defeat Mainsforth convincingly, but, in the end, they who were the ones thankful for the mercies of a draw as the new boys gave them a hard time.
Mainsforth’s decision to bat paid handsome dividends as they rattled along to a declaration after 52 overs on 259-8, Pakistani first-classer Shoaib Laghari lighting up the innings with four sixes and nine fours in a 56-ball 71.
Garry Cummings added 47, with Jonny Barnes making 35 and Matthew Brown 34
Callum Appleby (4-57) was the pick of the home bowlers, while Reece Carr and Mel Betts both struck twice.
An opening stand of 55 then gave Sacriston hope, and they progressed to 144-3 before the middle order was ripped out, with three wickets falling for a single run, turning possible victory into a fight for survival.
It was a battle Martin Hubber (61 not out from 96 balls) was fully equipped for as he guided his side to the safety of 198-8. Brown bagged 4-31, with Garry Cummings taking 2-63 and a catch.
Boldon suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of a Blaydon team who, just two short weeks ago, were facing up to the prospect of another relegation battle, but now, after two successive victories, can relax a little more.
Chris Ellison (six fours in 60) and Umar Waheed (five fours and a six in 60 not out) were the mainstays of Boldon’s 53-over total of 215-4, helped by Nick Sampson-Barnes’s 38, but, despite five wickets from Anthony Brown it was the strugglers who emerged triumphant after Geoff Stewart marshalled the home troops superbly with an unbeaten 75, victory arriving with two overs to spare.
Washington succumbed to Willington by 73 runs.
Willington posted 200-9 declared, inspired by Anand Singh (54) and Steven Alderson (41), with Andrew Ebdale grabbing 3-41 supported by two wickets apiece from Daniel Anderson and Trent Mais.
Jamie Dass was Willington’s matchwinner with an impressive analysis of 5-18 from 13 overs as Washington continued their own miserable form which sees them in the four-team relegation mix.
The Harraton club were bowled out for 127 in 46.3 overs, despite 41 from Joe Thompson, with five boundaries, and 24 from Mais.
Felling went top with a 59-run defeat of Brandon, who were all out for 118 as the wickets were shared by Anthony Trotter (4-18), Gary Scott (3-16) and Paul Leonard (3-36). Scott earlier hit 47 in Felling’s 177-9, when Ryan Nicholson snaffled 5-25.