On a day when the weather once again threw up a number of challenges for frustrated cricket teams, Hetton Lyons managed to squeeze out one of only two wins in the Premier Division.
As a result, they moved to within seven points of the summit.
The other victory went to neighbours Eppleton, who once again came out on the right side of a low-scoring encounter, and, with back-to-back wins, they have now moved well away from the danger zone and into the top half of the table.
Durham Academy chose to bat when winning the toss at Lilywhite Terrace, but found themselves in immediate trouble losing their first four wickets for just 20 runs, Faiz Fazal striking twice
A recovery of sorts was led by Scott Steel (43 from 59 balls), but, when he was seventh out with the score on 84, the end came soon afterwards. George Harding added 24 not out.
Lyons had four players taking two wickets each in an excellent all-round display from their attack, Jack McBeth (2-17) and Jonny Malkin (2-11) heading the parade.
With a target of just 116 to chase, Fazal’s chance of notching up a third consecutive hundred was all but gone, but he did add 48 more runs to his burgeoning aggregate before Chris Martin (three fours and three sixes in 42 not out) provided the finishing touches to an eight-wicket win.
Matthew Potts took both wickets to fall.
Eppleton were expected to defeat rock-bottom Gateshead Fell, and they duly did so by four wickets in a rainstorm shortened game reduced to 88 overs.
But Fell will once again be scratching their heads at wasting a couple of decent opportunities to shake themselves out of the doldrums.
Having been inserted, Gateshead were progressing rather well on 92-3, but then top scorer Adam Whatley (36 from 39 balls) became one of Liam Dixon’s five victims and the visitors literally Fell apart, losing their last seven wickets for 29 runs and leaving Eppleton with an appetizing 121 to chase for their win.
Dixon, a six-wicket hero at South Shields last weekend, added 5-38 to an impressive set of figures since his close-season move from Shields – he now has three five-wicket hauls in just five league starts. Paul Davidson took 3-60 and Kyle Davis 2-3.
Fell’s second opportunity for salvation arose when they reduced the home side to 32-4, but counter-attacking contributions from Durham’s Paul Coughlin (27 from 18 balls) and Gary Burlinson (25 from 33 balls) got Eppleton back on course, victory achieved in just 22.3 overs.
Chester-le-Street were in the wrong place at the wrong time on Saturday, with the weather grim at Stockton for quite some time, so much so that 52 overs of play were lost at Grangefield, and this tended to force both teams’ hands.
Gurman Randhawa looked to be setting up a victory charge, his spell of 6-38 leaving the Teessiders gasping for air on 92-8 until a stoic effort from the tailenders lifted the eventual score to 137-8. With just 28 overs to chase, the Cestrians found themselves in trouble on 46-5 and dug in to claim a draw as Randhawa and Liam Simpson blocked out 92 balls to end on 84-5. Andrew Smith top-scored with just 17.
The game at Whitburn also finished honours relatively even after the match was reduced by 18 overs, not that that worried Joe Coyne, who made a wonderful unbeaten 126 with 13 fours and two sixes from 162 balls.
With Dan Shurben making 86, the pair added 151 in a third-wicket partnership that formed the basis of their side’s total of 262-8, Craig Smith adding a late 26.
Gordon Muchall then took over for South Shields, the Durham man cracking 18 fours and three sixes in a vibrant 137 not out from 132 balls.
With just 46 overs available, Shields leaked wickets at the other end, so Muchall’s third century of the season went unrewarded as the visitors ended on 222-8.
Kieran Waterson and Craig Smith both took three wickets.
Elsewhere, South Northumberland (243-9) had to settle for a draw as Blaydon survived on 203-9, and Tynemouth (232-9) had the better of their draw with Newcastle (164-6).