Just when it seemed life couldn’t get much better for Eppleton, it did.
On Friday night, they followed up their remarkable Banks Salver victory over Premier Division Newcastle by beating the same team on their own patch at Jesmond in the Co-operative Funeralcare T20, victory qualifying them for the finals day at the expense of their more exalted opponents.
And then, on Saturday, they duly claimed their expected victory over rock-bottom South Hetton, with the added bonus that the leaders at the start of the day, Washington, were unable to get their ground dried out sufficiently to make a start against Willington, the resulting abandonment meaning Eppleton’s win took them top of the table.
The overnight thunderstorms certainly caused a few headaches around the region, but with Eppleton on the crest of a wave anyway they weren’t too worried about a delay of two hours to their game as mopping up was completed.
Given everything else that has gone on lately, it was almost inevitable that Eppleton would win the important toss in the truncated game, and so they did, having little to think about before inserting their visitors in a game reduced to 71 overs with a 38-33 split.
A gentle start, when they eased up to 52-1, gave South Hetton some sort of a platform, but, with time ebbing away, Rob Atherton’s belligerent 37, which included four fours and three sixes, was certainly needed to make them competitive, however the final total of 145-9 was inevitably susceptible.
And so it proved as Kyle Davis continued his outstanding form, stroking seven fours and two sixes as he masterminded the run chase with 83 not out score from 92 balls faced.
Victory, by seven wickets, arrived in the 31st over, with Davis passing the 1,000-run milestone in all competitions during his innings.
With the Sacriston-Brandon match also failing to come under starter’s orders, Burnmoor took the chance to move back to within striking distance of the leading trio with a five-wicket win at Ashbrooke.
Sunderland were pinned down to a total of 149-8 from 35 overs, with Greg Applegarth’s half century the only real bright spot as Ian Conn (4-31) and Kevin Dixon (3-26) kept the Wearsiders under the cosh. Moor had the game won inside 27 overs as Dixon displayed his all-round talents with an unbeaten 44.
Just one week after recording their best win of the season, Boldon’s erratic form returned as they crashed to a 150-run defeat at Felling, after being set a formidable 261-4 by the home team.
A second-wicket partnership of exactly 200 quickly took the game away from Boldon, Danny Clark (113 from 146 balls) and Alan Robson (102 from 121 balls) filling their batting boots as the home batsmen prospered.
Boldon’s response was in trouble from the off and, with Liam Simpson and Dinesh Jayamuni sharing six wickets, they crumbled to 111 all out.
Seaham Harbour (128-7) came out of a home stalemate against Tudhoe (208-9) with a much smaller share of the spoils, their eight-point return leaving them just one ahead of their opponents and 23 clear of South Hetton.
Dale Shaw grabbed three wickets for Harbour, backed by two apiece from Nathan Corkhill and Stephenson. Ian Pattison (25), Stephenson (21) and Jeff Laws (20) top-scored for Seaham.