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JUST four teams remain unbeaten after the season’s opening two weekends and once again it’s champions Richmondshire who are leading the way.
Familiar rivals Darlington, along with Great Ayton and Guisborough, have also shown they are again intent on joining the fight for silverware with the Quakers enjoying one of the most resounding victories of the day.
Taking full advantage of a wicket still drying out after the heavy rain, Jon Barnes took six wickets for just 22 runs to put Barnard Castle to the sword just a week after their opponents had chalked up one of their biggest ever successes by ten wickets at Hartlepool.
In his second game since reverting to amateur status, Barnes, formerly the league’s longest-serving professional, shared with his captain Peter Armstrong (3-24) in the collapse of Barney from 72 for 5 to 79 all out, an astonishing loss of five wickets for just seven runs.
Darlington, who made 157, had themselves recovered from early batting reverses.
The in-form Liam Coates (60) overcame the loss of his first three colleagues for just ten runs by sharing a 96-run partnership with James Dobson (26).
Coates hit four fours and three sixes and faced 110 balls.
Barney skipper, James Finch (5-54 from 16 overs), must have thought he had set up his team for a better result.
Richmondshire’s bid to retain the league title gained more credence, even though 18 of the 100 overs were lost in their game with Seaton Carew as mopping up operations were necessary before a ball could be bowled.
After the first hour was lost, the division’s newcomers made 144 with another strong display from professional Sanjaya Rodrigo (35) and star junior Paul Braithwaite (34).
Martin Skirving, with 32, showed he had also quickly adapted to the top grade following his club’s promotion.
Shaun Charlton (4-37) led the battery of four wicket-takers for the champions, including four successful overs from skipper Gary Pratt (2-19).
The season’s early pacesetters – leaders already by a four-point margin – had overs to spare as they won by six wickets, with Rob Carr (59) and Mike Layfield (49) again in great form.
Seaton gave them a bit of a scare when they grabbed two early wickets with just 33 runs scored, and Pratt, who hardly ever fails with the bat, was among those.
Layfield and Carr, who between them hit 16 boundaries, made sure that was the end of Seaton’s hopes of success.
The other side with two straight wins are Great Ayton, but they nearly got caught out on a turning wicket at Saltburn after being set just 123 for victory.
Chris Batchelor (51) needed all his concentration, hitting just three boundaries in a tough session against Jack Almond (2-7) and Steve Purcifer (2-18). Steve Pennock gave valiant support to make 37 but he, too, found the soft wicket difficult.
Ayton’s Mike Croft also had plenty to celebrate as he took a career-best 7-24 from a superb spell of 16 overs with six maidens.
But Joe Kennedy (34) kept Saltburn afloat after losing three wickets for just one run in the early part of their innings.
Ayton won by just two wickets.
Sedgefield (200-8) surprised everyone with a great allround display and a win by 101 runs against Marske just a week after a disastrous batting collapse in their opening match.
Aussie David Miller hit a superb 87 from 96 balls on debut, including eight fours and six sixes – that’s all but 19 in boundaries – and shared in partnerships of 55 and 73, the biggest with the new club captain, James Davidson (27).
Marske were bowled out for 99 after a devastating bowling display from Jonathan Clark (5-43) and Martin Cull (3-20), each from 17 overs. Cull bowled no less than eight maidens. A ninth wicket recovery between Karl Bramwell (33) and Josh Carroll (21) almost doubled the score for the Seasiders who badly missed both their professionals.
Marton, who lost on the opening weekend, just got the better of their neighbours, Stokesley, to record a tight 25 run victory.
Andrew Weighell (6-62 in 16 overs) kept the home batsmen tied up but home professional, Lee Hodgson (50 and 4-30), proved the match-winner.
Stokesley’s new South African pro, Dieter Klein, almost turned the game around but ran out of batting partners when he reached 61 with seven fours and a six.
Hartlepool enjoyed a confidence- boosting win over Redcar who lost for a second week. Callum Brown top scored with 42 as the Seasiders made 143-9, but despite four wickets for 34 runs for Mohammed Zahid, Pool’s Jonathan Rickard (44) and Craig Symington (36 no) saw them over the line.