TOM Latham’s move from the Test arena to Dean Road produced immediate dividends for South Shields, who produced a battling display against Chester-le-Street to lift themselves off the bottom of the table.
In a run-laden afternoon the Cestrians initially piled on the agony for the Shieldsmen by romping to a score of 276-8 in 57 overs, Andrew Smith leading the charge with 17 fours in his 90, and Liam Simpson and George Harrison adding half-centuries.
In weeks gone by the home team would probably have wilted under this pressure, but New Zealand’s Latham showed his class with a superb century, and with fellow opener Chris Watson making 46 Shields looked primed for a successful run chase until Simon Birtwisle’s four-wicket burst modified their ambitions.
Latham eventually fell for 118, but a late 52 from Chris Dorothy helped Shields hang on at 248-8.
Gateshead Fell were playing in the wonderful surroundings of the Emirates ICG, but defeat at the hands of the Academy left them in the less wonderful surroundings of the relegation zone.
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 blew the strugglers apart with 7-35 in 11 overs, Fell felled for 120 in just 33 overs.
There was a welcome return to league form by Blaydon, 77-run conquerors of Hetton Lyons, while South North won at Jesmond by 43 runs.
Allan Worthy added another 65 runs to his record at Denefield, and his solid 90 ball knock allowed the home team to post a challenging 211-6, and then the Lyons had their tail tweaked by Kiwi Theo van Woerkom, who shattered their resistance with a short but devastating spell in which he bagged 6-11 to leave them down and out for 134.
The Bulls total of 227-8 owed much to an unbeaten 61 from number eight bat Stephen Humble – he came to the crease with the score on 103-6.
Newcastle then lost their first two wickets with just one on the board, and even though Ben Raine tried his best to inspire his colleagues with an unbeaten 86 the home team were eventually bowled out for 184.
Stockton increased their advantage at the top when they successfully defended a modest 156 at Sunderland to win by 37 runs, and a Marcus Turner century was the highlight of Tynemouth’s home draw against Benwell Hill.
In the First Division a glorious unbeaten 151 from 156 balls made Karl Turner the undoubted man of the match-of-the-day. He hit 17 fours and four sixes in a superb exhibition of strokeplay for hosts Brandon (239-6), but Whitburn (219-8) managed to cling on to a draw to preserve their unbeaten record and retain their leadership status, Neil Ayre providing the substance to their fightback with 77.
Sacriston recorded their first win of the campaign, trouncing visitors Felling by nine wickets.
A defiant 23 from last man Ant Trotter was the only thing that gave Felling’s final total of 112 a modicum of respectability after Ian Hunter had savaged the bulk of the innings with a 15-over spell of 7-19. Phil Peel (46no) and Dan Anderson (37no) then completed the formalities with an unbroken partnership of 81.
At 110-8, chasing a Boldon target of 211-9, Washington looked dead and buried, but a brilliant 85 not out from number eight bat Tom Colledge almost produced a miracle before his side fell eight runs short with 11 balls left.