Whitburn cling on

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ON A day when only one game managed to escape the ravages of the weather, Brandon became the new Dukes ECB NEPL First Division leaders, and with just three games remaining they are now well placed to thwart the ambitions of Sacriston and Whitburn.

In fact, Whitburn had the rain to thank for saving them from dropping out of the title race altogether as they were facing an embarrassing home defeat with their last pair at the wicket after being thoroughly outplayed by Brandon.

As usual, Karl Turner was at the forefront of Brandon’s efforts, his opening 62 including 10 fours and a six.

And when he left after facing 87 balls the attack was taken up by Craig Hewitt who took his side beyond the 200 mark with an unbeaten 51. Even though Mark Elliott claimed 3-31, the hosts were left with a target of 203-9.

And then the roof caved in as wickets crashed, only Michael Turns (17) managing to make it to double figures as first Ruel Brathwaite (2-6) and then Jamie Robinson struck.

Robinson just could not be touched in an eight-over burst in which he bagged five wickets for eight runs, but, with almost 30 overs lost from the game, Whitburn managed to cling on at 36-9 in 29 overs of torture.

Brandon took 16 points from the match, enough to enable them to take over top spot, but Whitburn were just thankful that the seven points they gained kept them in with a shout, although they now have 14 points to make up on the new leaders.

Sacriston slipped out of pole position when they lost a much bigger chunk of their game to the elements.

Only 48 overs were possible at Felling, and in 46 of those Sacriston piled on a score of 236-5 before declaring, Moh Ali leading the charge with 11 boundaries in his 89.

Dan Anderson (43) and Ian Hunter (35 not out) added the gloss finish to Ali’s undercoat, but, with Felling on 7-0 after two overs, the rain descended for the final, decisive time.

Eppleton were the one team to win on the day, and it was only their second victory of the summer.

A half-century from Rizwan Hussain, which included seven fours and a six, was the one bright spot in the innings for Willington, and it was the bowlers who dominated as David Wilkinson took five for 26 in a brilliant 14-over stint, while Craig Scurr bagged 3-15 in nine overs.

Zaheer Shahbaz did his best to strike back for the visitors, with three wickets, but 32 from Callum Jefferson, and an unbeaten 32 from Dean Musther, proved enough to ease Eppleton to their five-wicket win in just 24 overs.

Seaham Harbour found themselves in choppy waters and in danger of capsizing at South Hetton, but Dale Shaw (43) and Stephen Sennett (29) threw their team a vital lifeline with a seventh-wicket partnership of 77 which lifted them from a disastrous 24-6 to the relative tranquility of 115 all out.

Murtuza Hussain was the man threatening to sink Seaham, his 11 overs producing figures of four for 14, but South Hetton never got the chance to chase the modest target and Harbour were grateful for any port in a storm when the downpours returned.

In the day’s final game, Washington set Boldon a target of 189-9 after Lee Rushworth hit nine fours and two sixes on his way to a 107-ball 80, this despite five wickets for Masood Mirza and three for Phil Shakespeare.

Boldon’s reply began badly as they slipped from 9-2 to 29-3, but Neil Mulvaney soothed the furrowed brows with an unbeaten 60 as the visitors ended their 24-over response on 115-4.