TYNE and Wear all but sealed promotion from Division Four of the County Championship after a thrilling last-gasp victory away to Middlesex.
Coupled with runaway leaders Northumberland’s 27-9 drubbing of third-placed Gloucestershire, the victory almost certainly seals Tyne and Wear’s success.
The top two meet in a big derby at the Teams Club in Gateshread next month.
The opening ladies’ B team action of the weekend saw Christine Shortland (14.70 points per dart average) lose 3-2 after missing doubles.
Claire Bainbridge (13.60) went down 3-0 before Tyne and Wear stalwart Jean Brown (9.91) gained the weekend’s first point in a 3-2 win.
Jackie Laws (13.66) levelled the scores with a comfortable 3-0 win on her debut taking the ladies’ match award in the process.
Liz Scullion (15.02) and Amy Bell (10.78) were both beaten as Middlesex took a 4-2 lead.
For the men’s B team, Gateshead’s Rob McCluskey (21.76) and Callum Stokell (22.13) both lost 3-2, leaving the vicitors in need of inspiration.
It came with a victory from PDC star “Supermac” Kevin McDine (28.01), winning the match award, with victory in his first appearance of the season.
Davey Thompson (22.86) edged a five-leg affair before John Kippen (23.86) eased past his opponent for a 3-0 win.
Dan Mock (22.89) returned to the side but fell to a 3-0 defeat, before Seaham’s Neil Rose (25.40) made it three wins from three since his return to the county with a 3-2 victory.
Youngster Lee Walton (23.39) looked at home on the stage as he put the men into a 5-3 lead with a 3-1 win, but Brian Duncan (23.30), Anth Skelton (17.20) and Dean Kippen (19.00) all lost.
South Shields star David Hatch (27.83) turned on the style with a 3-0 win to narrow the home side’s lead to 10.8 at the end of the opening day.
In the ladies’ A action, there were wins for Christine Sims (15.56) and captain Maureen Purvis (17.89), whose 3-0 victory earned the match award.
However, losses for Holly Cooper, Caroline Dorothy, Jackie Laws and Jean Stanley left Tyne and Wear trailing 14-10, leaving the men needing win nine of the 12 remaining games to clinch a much-needed win.
However, they were buoyed by news that Northumberland were well in front against Gloucestershire, and set about their task with relish.
Former England international Davy Richardson (26.37) set the tone with a fantastic 12-dart opening leg helping him to a 4-0 win.
Paul McGowan (23.72) slipped to a 4-2 defeat, but a pumped-up Billy Todd (26.49) was a 4-2 victor before McDine (28.28) made his second appearance of the weekend.
He had the crowd on their feet in the opening leg as he started with back-to-back 180s before missing with his seventh dart, which was met with boos from the room!
However, the leg sealed in 12 darts and he went on to win 4-1, aided by a further two maximums.
Davey White (23.03) strolled to a 4-0 win to put Tyne and Wear within one point, before David Maitland’s (23.48) 100 per cent record came to an end as was beaten 4-3.
John Buglass (26.79) won 4-1, but Gary Aspin (28.49) lost 4-1 to Middlesex’s top man, despite a 161 checkout in a brilliant 12-dart leg.
With Tyne and Wear needing to take the last four games, Sunderland’s number one, Paul Williams (30.07), produced a stunning performance in a 4-2 win to narrow the gap.
Ryan Joyce (24.30) was a comfortable 4-1 winner before Tyne and Wear’s number one, Andy Chalmers (27-08), maintained his three-year unbeaten run with a routine 4-0 win in the penultimate game of the weekend to move his side 18-17 ahead.
The win rested on the shoulders of captain David Stokell (24.05) and he delivered 4-2 to seal a fabulous victory.