SUNDERLAND’S third defeat of the season left them wondering what might have been as they slipped into the bottom half of the Dukes North East Premier League Premier Division.
The Wearsiders’ defeat was more disappointing than usual as their bowlers had never allowed Stockton to dominate.
Kieran Waterson (4-48 from 17 overs) led a successful attack in which Ian Stephenson (3-32) also shone, but the key turning point came when Durham’s Jamie Harrison, batting at number 10, made 33 crucial runs to lift the Teessiders from a “dead and buried” 106-8 to an “in with a chance” 156.
When skipper Dan Shurben (32) was leading the run chase in an opening partnership of 52, all seemed well with the Ashbrooke world again, until the innings imploded with 10 wickets crashing for just 67 more runs.
Richard Waite (5-41) and Jimmy Ward (3-23) shared the glory which saw Stockton increase their advantage as table-toppers from 23 to 29 points.
Part of the reason for this was the fact that second-placed Chester-le-Street were held to a draw by South Shields, who were happy to get sufficient points to lift themselves out of the bottom place.
The debut of New Zealand international batsman Tom Latham was instrumental in this as he hit a magnificent 118 out of 248-8 with 14 boundaries at Wood Terrace.
But he had to do a fair bit of leather chasing first as the Cestrians made a challenging 276-8 with 90 from Andrew Smith and half-centuries from both Liam Simpson and George Harrison.
Hetton Lyons retained third place in the championship despite losing heavily at Blaydon and despite Lal Kumar doing his best to inspire his colleagues by making the team’s top score after bowling 20 successful overs.
Blaydon’s 60-over total of 211-6 featured an 80-run second-wicket partnership between Allan Worthy (65) and Mark Drake (32), with Chris Varley marking his return with 43 and Geoff Stewart unbeaten on 31 when a declaration came.
Kumar took three wickets before making a 63-ball half-century, which included eight boundaries, in a bid to lift Lyons, but New Zealander Theo van Woerkom shattered any resistance with a devastating spell of five overs and five balls to take six wickets for just 11 runs and leave Hetton in tatters.
They were all out for 134 within 33 overs, losing by 77 runs.
Lyons were joined by South Northumberland in third place after they beat Newcastle in a Tyneside derby at Jesmond.
The victory, by 43 runs, followed half-centuries for Stephen Humble and James Miller and four wickets for Lee Crozier. Ben Raine, with an unbeaten 86, was unable to find enough support to spring a surprise result.
Gateshead Fell stayed in the drop zone after succumbing to a 129-run defeat to Durham Academy at the Emirates ICG.
The youngsters racked up a total of 249-8, with Andrew Ireland (73 in 59 balls) and Jack Clark (60) the main men, and then Max Morley simply blew the struggling visitors apart as he grabbed seven wickets for 35 runs in 11 overs, with Fell felled for 120 in just 33 overs.
Benwell Hill (197-7) grabbed more points in a drawn finish with Tynemouth (230-6), for whom the talent of Mark Turner (103 not out) and Ruhan Pretorius (54) came to the fore.