Sunderland’s woes near the foot of the First Division intensified as Boldon inflicted a heavy Ashbrooke defeat on the Wearsiders.
Durham batsman Calum MacLeod marked his return to the Boldon side with a top-scoring 69 as the visitors were held to a score of 224-7, helped by Chris Ellison (37) and Umar Waheed (33), as Smith bagged three wickets.
But, despite a promising start to the Sunderland response which saw Rammy Singh (32) and Greg Applegarth (57) share an opening partnership of 70, the wheels came off big style after they were parted, Waheed leading the Boldon attack with 4-22 as the hosts crumbled to 133 all out to lose by a margin of 92 runs.
The victory cemented Boldon’s position in the top five, but, for Sunderland, the worry is they are only five points above the relegation slot currently occupied by Seaham Harbour and a fixture list over the next three weeks which pits them directly against their rivals in the drop zone.
Harbour’s plight is even more pressing than Sunderland’s following a heavy home defeat at the hands of new league leaders Willington, who dominated from the off in rattling up a 50-over total of 257-5 before declaring. James Stock (60no) and Arron Proud (54no) led the way down the order, with Stewart Pattison and Craig Stephenson both striking twice.
The home team were just keeping their heads above water on 75-3 when a sudden collapse saw six wickets vanish for the addition of just seven runs, five going down for one run amongst that mayhem.
Will Phillips (4-16) induced the panic as four batsmen failed to trouble the scorer, and even a last-wicket show of defiance from Nathan Corkhill and Jeff Laws could not paper over the cracks as Harbour went down for just 102. Dale Shaw top-scored with 21.
The maximum points haul secured by Willington in their victory was enough to lift them above the leaders at the start of the day, Sacriston, who had to content themselves with the 15 points they picked up from a winning draw at Blaydon, who proved stubborn opponents as they, too, fought to keep out of the bottom placings.
Half-centuries from Martin Hubber and Mel Betts enabled Sacriston to declare after 52 overs on 217-8, but then Blaydon hunkered down for the long haul, their resilience typified by Phil Miller who was 20 not out when stumps were drawn having faced 73 deliveries. The home team closed on 116-8, Callum Appleby the most successful visiting bowler with 3-14 from his 10 overs.
Burnmoor bounced back to form with a 29-run win at Washington.
Kevin Dixon’s unbeaten 44 from the number seven slot prevented problems as the Moor eased to 175-7 in 55 overs, after tottering at one stage on 65-5. Riley Blunt added 35 and Liam Burgess (26), while Graeme Race grabbed 3-13 in nine effective overs, backed by two wickets from Andrew Ebdale.
Washington then looked done for on 83-7, Josh Wilson making 20, but Ashley Thorpe was the most accomplished batsman on view as he made 65 from 72 balls, with 11 boundaries, before running out of partners with the total advanced to 146. Steven Meek bagged 5-33 to set up the victory chance, with Burgess and Karl Bellerby both striking twice.
In the day’s other games Brandon and Felling were winners over Mainsforth and Tudhoe respectively, the Brandon result proving the first setback for new boys Mainsforth, who could only muster 100 as ex-Yorkshire player Moin Ashraf blasted them out with an eight-over spell of 6-32.
Having been 53-8 at one stage, Mainsforth were relieved to reach three figures, but it was never going to be enough as their hosts knocked off the target in just 19 overs.
Paul Leonard (5-46) and Ant Trotter (4-6) piled on the misery for Tudhoe.
Bowled out for 122, they went on to lose by eight wickets to finish the day just a solitary point above the bottom slot. For Felling, things are on the up as they attempt to live up to the pre-season hype – they are now second.