SUNDERLAND took advantage of Gateshead Fell’s poor form to thrash them by six wickets in the Dukes North East Premier League.
The Fell had three batsmen making good starts, but none could go on to make the substantial innings needed as Sunderland bowled them out for 208.
Richie Steele (41), Matthew Milton (49) and Arsalan Rahim (40) all looked capable of being the catalysts for success, but Chris Hooker (5-76) and Ashley Thorpe (3-38) eventually had the answers.
The second wicket partnership of Danny Shurben (63) and Michael Turns (61) took the game away from Gateshead.
Chester-Le-Street turned in an almost perfect performance to demolish South Shields and extend their lead at the top.
The Cestrians racked up a formidable 314-5 before declaring to maximise their points haul, with Andrew Smith (113) and John Coxon (101no) both recording centuries as the hapless Shieldsmen used seven bowlers in an effort to stem the flow of runs.
Phil Bell then stood in lone defiance as the Chester attack went to work, but his 59 was to be in vain as Andrew Bell (4-40) and Ian Hunter (3-14) worked their way methodically through the line-up, Shields tumbling to 107 all out and back into relegation trouble.
Hetton Lyons had to be content with the major share of the spoils in a high-scoring home draw against Stockton. However, their greater share of points kept them well clear of the danger zone.
Shaun Birbeck moved within sight of the 500 league runs milestone with a superb century and with Gary Scott (67) adding classy support, Lyons roared to a declaration on 304-5 after 60 overs.
However, the Teessiders wouldn’t lie down as Matthew Brown (63) spearheaded a spirited reply which closed on 254-8, Ryan Pringle the pick of the bowlers with 3-42.
Durham Academy gave South North a real run for their money at Roseworth Terrace before going down by just seven runs.
It was runs down the order that proved crucial as the Bulls made steady progress to 205-9.
An opening 46 from Adam Heather was carefully constructed, but at 120-5 the Academy held the upper hand before Stephen Humble cracked 57 at a run-a-ball to lift them to respectability.
The youngsters’ innings followed a very similar pattern, Sameet Brar’s 59 bringing victory in sight before the last three wickets fell for two runs to hand South North their win on the last ball of the 60th over.
Tynemouth had ex-Sunderland player Rameez Shahzad in form, but it wasn’t enough to stave off a desperately close one-wicket defeat at the hands of Benwell Hill.
Newcastle lost their unbeaten record in style, thumped by 141 runs by a rampant Blaydon who, nevertheless, dropped two points further behind Chester.
H Chester-le-Street won the National Club Cup Group One final, pipping South North by 10 runs yesterday to reach the national last 16. John Coxon (63) and Richard Waite (52) led Chester to 233-9 before three wickets apiece from Andrew Smith and Graeme Cessford finally saw off South North – as nerves began to jangle.