Saturday’s dramatic, last-over victory at Burnmoor thrust Eppleton into the spotlight at the summit as they moved to within two points of beaten leaders Washington in Division One.
With former top dogs Washington being defeated by Boldon, and losing their unbeaten record in the process, Eppleton are now the only team left standing with a zero in the losses column.
This latest win makes it seven victories in a row, and the Church Road club are bouncing.
Burnmoor declared their innings after 54 overs, giving Eppleton one more over to bat, and it was from the last ball of that 51st over that victory arrived after Kyle Davis (72) and Graham Hoban (49) had given their side a tremendous springboard with an opening partnership worth 126 runs.
Stephen Meek grabbed five wickets for 35 runs in a 15-over stint, but there was little additional wicket-taking help for him as Zaheer Shahbaz finished the job off with five boundaries in his unbeaten 31.
Earlier, Meek had made 48 in a Burnmoor opening stand of 93 with Paul Craig (34), but the innings lost its impetus as Craig Scurr put the squeeze on with 3-40 from his 15 overs.
This latest win earned Eppleton 23 points, enough to close the gap on Washington, who succumbed to a three-wicket defeat at Boldon.
Washington declared in 49.3 overs at Sunderland Road after reaching 200-9, this after suffering a mid-innings blip when four wickets went down for only eight runs. Melvyn Betts, with 55, led the recovery as Mosharraf Hossain picked up four wickets on his home debut.
And it was Hossain who masterminded the run chase, his unbeaten 57 coming from just 60 balls after virtually every other batsman had struggled to score at a decent rate in the match.
He played a true professional’s role when Boldon lost two wickets in three balls to slip to 146-7, and found a staunch ally in Phil Shakespeare, whose crucial unbeaten nine runs came from 52 balls faced.
Victory arrived from the first ball of the extra five overs Boldon had been granted by the visitors’ declaration. The win rekindled Boldon’s own hopes of challenging in the second half of the summer as they moved up to fifth place, just 31 points behind the new leaders.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, South Hetton were comprehensively outplayed by visitors Willington, with their 160-run defeat dumping them at the foot of the table.
South Hetton claimed a wicket from the second ball of the match, but that was about as good as it got as the Willington batsmen then took over, particularly Anand Singh, who smashed 23 fours and four sixes on his way to an unbeaten 168, scored from 152 balls.
With Will Phillips (57 not out) joining Singh in an unbroken third-wicket partnership worth 183, the visitors declared on 271-2 in 46 overs.
South Hetton’s response was more or less holed from the start.
With Phillips adding five wickets to his earlier runs, the home team crumbled to 111 all out in just 20.4 overs.
Nathan Adamson (33) and Tariq Aziz (25) top-scored.
Sunderland’s bowlers took a bit of a pounding at Tudhoe, an Alex McGrath century the highlight of a 50-over home total of 283-7. Talal Khan and Bravesh Shetty both struck twice for the visitors.
The Wearsiders, emboldened by two successive wins, did show new found resilience to end comfortably on 237-7 from 55 overs, Shetty adding 86 more runs to his burgeoning aggregate, while openers Michael Nunn (75, with 13 fours) and Greg Applegarth (38, with six fours and two sixes), put on 70 for the first wicket.
Seaham Harbour nearly got into trouble trying to chase a Sacriston total of 122 all out, the visitors innings undermined by Ian Pattison’s magnificent 12-over spell of 5-24, backed by two wickets apiece from Anthony Watson and Nilkanth Parab. Jack Hardy top-scored with 30.
Harbour slumped to 30-5 before Parab settled nerves with an undefeated 40, supported by Watson (23) and Jeff Laws (22no), and set up a four-wicket win.