SACRISTON blasted their way to the top of the Dukes North East Premier League First Division table with one of their most impressive displays of the summer.
Facing new league leaders Washington, they overpowered their hapless opponents, racking up a total of 263-4 before skittling the visitors for just 76.
Opener Tony Claughan was the inspiration, he hit 14 fours and seven sixes as he cracked a brilliant 108 from just 110 balls faced. With skipper Ian Hunter adding a late flourish, with an unbeaten 49 from 64 balls, Sacriston were able to close their innings after 50 overs.
Not that they needed the extra time. Graham Hubber proved virtually unplayable in his 11.3-over stint, claiming seven wickets for just 32 runs, and with Hunter picking up two more, and one batsman injured, Washington were bundled out inside 23 overs to fall away from the leading group of teams.
Sacriston now hold a two-point advantage over Brandon, who stepped up their own bid for the title with a comfortable seven-wicket win over struggling Seaham Harbour.
Only Andrew Stephenson, with six boundaries in his 38, managed to defy the visiting attack for any length of time, but even his 69-ball innings could not hold the high-fliers at bay as Eddie Watson (3-37), Karl Turner (4-22) and Jamie Robinson (3-10) ripped through the hosts to bowl them out for just 110 in 35 overs.
Turner then tried to finish the game quickly, cracking five fours and a six in a belligerent cameo, but he fell for 31, scored from 19 balls, and it was left to the more sedate Matthew Whaley (35 not out from 58 balls) to see his team over the line as Stuart Lacey (3-24) claimed some consolation for the Harbour boys.
Whitburn returned to form with an eight-wicket win at Willington, and they are just eight points behind the new table-toppers with four games to play.
A James Kennedy century lifted the home team to a decent 55-over total of 221-8, but a second-wicket partnership of 161 between Neil Ayre, who hit 15 fours and a six in his unbeaten 90, and Lee Henderson, who included 13 boundaries in his 75, killed the game stone dead and Whitburn rushed through to the important success with more than 10 overs to spare.
Boldon look to have blown their outside chance of a late title challenge after being held to a home draw by Eppleton.
Neil Mulvaney rattled along at better than a run-a-ball in his innings of 90, and, with Michael Walker contributing an unbeaten 40, the home team felt confident enough to declare after 50 overs with 243-7 on the board.
Gary Purcell, with 3-21, took the main honours in the seven-man Eppleton attack.
The Church Road side had plenty of batsmen making starts, but the necessary injection of pace never materialised and the visitors were content enough to close out on 206-6 after 55 overs.
Ned McCormack made a half-century up front, but that came from 91 balls, and Neil Young (39 from 78 balls) and Dean Musther (46 from 75 balls) also found it slow going as Raja Mirza claimed three wickets.
South Hetton lost their fourth game in six outings and, coming as it did against the bottom club, it was perhaps their most disappointing.
A half-century and two wickets made John Leslie South Hetton’s top man, but Felling’s Chris Goudie took the man-of-the-match honours as his four wickets helped bowl out the home team for just 135, and then his 39 runs proved the top score in the successful run chase.