The Chester-le-Street juggernaut continued with a seventh successive win, away to lowly Eppleton.
A timely and brilliant first century of the season from Andrew Smith (104, off 100 balls, including 13 fours and two sixes) enabled Chester to post 240-7.
Smith and the consistent Richard Waite (46, with seven fours) put on 110 for the third wicket. James Thompson made 25 and Quentin Hughes 21, with Liam Dixon and Joe Blacklock taking two wickets apiece.
Liam Simpson then got to work with the new ball and had both Eppleton openers removed with only 43 on the board. Waite (3-31) and Gurman Randhawa (4-12) then bowled the Cestrians to victory inside 24 overs.
Gary Burlinson’s aggressive knock of 37, off 33 balls, with six fours and two sixes, was the highlight of the home team’s batting, though Dean Musther made 28, with five boundaries). The Cestrians have increased their lead at the top to 42 points, as their rivals both failed to win.
Hetton Lyons did the leaders a favour by holding Newcastle to a draw at Oxbridge Avenue.
The hosts took 63 overs to score 247-6, with opener Ben McGee (46), Graham Clark (44) and an 84-run partnership from Sean Tindale (41no) and Christopher Youldon (47no) leading the way. Eddie Watson bagged 3-43.
In reply, Mahesh Rawat (30, with four fours) and Brydon Carse (47, with seven boundaries) batted well, backed by Chris Martin (23). Some late order rearguard batting from Brian Fenwick, Ben Whitehead and Watson ensured the draw, Lyons closing on 172-8.
Defending champions South North surprisingly lost at home to South Shields by four wickets.
The home side won the toss and decided to bat, but managed only 189, with Jonathan Craigs (84) top-scoring. Shields bowled very well, with Chris Stewart (4-45) and Gordon Muchall (3-41) taking the plaudits.
Stephen Humble (5-45) tore into the Shields batting, reducing them to 72-6, before a fantastic 119-run partnership from Gordon Muchall (79no) and Michael Dunn (50no), ensured victory for the visitors.
Gateshead Fell are facing the drop after crashing to seven-wicket defeat at Whitburn.
Fell lost the toss and did not bat very well, with only Richard Smith (41, with five fours) showing any kind of resistance.
A brilliant spell of bowling from Kieran Waterson (7-35 off 14 overs) produced his second seven wicket haul of the season and he was at times unplayable. With Craig Smith striking twice, Fell only managed 98.
Whitburn’s Jeremy Benton (31no, with five fours) and Daniel Woolston (42no, with four boundaries and a six) enjoyed a 54-run partnership to see the Villagers home in 19 overs.
Durham Academy got back to winning ways, with a 70-run success against Benwell Hill, who are not yet clear from danger.
Solomon Bell (33), Asher Hart (79, with seven fours) and the ever-reliable Liam Trevaskis (six fours and two sixes in 58) allowed them to score 234-7
In reply, Hill were all out for 164, with all-rounder Hart taking 4-37 and George Harding 4-64 to increase the Tynesiders’ relegation fears.
Stockton losta third game in a row, going down to Tynemouth at Preston Avenue.
The visitors were asked to bat first and skipper Kevin Ward hit a half-century (53), then Jamie Harrison (34) and Joel Thwaites (32) got them up to 203-9. Finn Lonnberg (3-41) and David Hymers (3-59) were the pick of the bowlers.
Ben Debnam (68) and Nick Armstrong, with a fine century (108, including 12 fours off 135 balls) steered Tynemouth home, to remain fourth in the league.