WITH three out of the five second round games wiped out, the four-week competition became the Dukes NEPL Division One Mini League on Saturday.
But, for South Hetton, that proved just perfect as they are now the only side left with maximum Mini League points after defeating South Shields.
The home team’s decision to field after winning the toss looked good when Shields were reduced to 38-5 after being 22-0, and with only Shields’ skipper Chris Rainbow managing to hang around for any length of time the uphill battle eventually ended after 30 overs with the total a modest 99.
Rainbow added the only colour to the Shields innings, remaining unbeaten with 53 to his name at the close, the innings including five fours and three sixes and taking him just 64 balls.
The next top scorer had just 10, with the main honours going to the home attack in which Kamran Shah claimed 2-7 and Omar Shahid and Scott Taylor also bagged two victims each.
South Hetton then looked in a spot of bother themselves after slipping to 30-4, but Shahid saved their blushes as he cracked three fours and two sixes in a quickfire 35 that effectively sealed Shields’ fate.
Andrew Elliott (3-30) and Chris Stewart (2-18) kept battling for the visitors, but the three-wicket home win arrived in the 33rd over to leave South Hetton in the position of knowing that if they win their last two games they will become the Mini marvels.
A delayed start at Sacriston saw the game with Seaham Harbour reduced to 35 overs per side, and, after posting 216-7, the home team looked to be in a strong position.
But a further downpour meant Harbour’s reply was reduced to 30 overs, and the revised target of 186 was reached from the very last ball of the match.
Harry Hubber continued his fine run of form with a brisk opening knock of 53 from 39 balls, 48 of those runs coming in boundaries, and when keeper Bryan Potts brought up his own half-century from 48 balls, Sacriston were satisfied with their efforts.
Stuart Pattison and Stuart Lacey bagged a brace of wickets each for the Harbour.
The Seaham run chase suffered a couple of early setbacks as Graham Hubber (4-45) looked like affecting the outcome, but then Shoaib Akhtar broke loose to crash six sixes and three fours in a blistering 61, scored from just 38 balls, and put his side in the ascendancy until he was run out with nine runs still needed.
Lewis Aiken (6no) and Jeff Laws (5no) then held their nerve in a match-winning ninth-wicket stand, the number 10 becoming a Laws unto himself when taking a winning boundary from the very final ball of a pulsating match.
With two games to go in the competition, South Hetton lead the way with six points, whileBoldon, Brandon and Washington all have four points. Boldon go to Washington this weekend, so that will be a do or die occasion, while South Hetton entertain Willington, who have just a single point.