THEY think it’s all over – it is now. Rockliffe Park duly wrapped up the Darlington and District League championship last weekend as they won for the fifteenth time in 19 outings to move 71 points clear of the rest.
With just three games left in the season their lead is unassailable, and their latest victory was achieved in the same emphatic manner that has typified much of their campaign, with Barningham the hapless victims on this occasion in a 166-run mauling.
The runs flowed at the top of the Park innings, Dion Wood getting things started in his own inimitable fashion with five boundaries in an opening 40. It was then over to Mark Swanwick and Warren Spark who gave the innings lift off in an impressive third wicket partnership, Swanwick hitting six fours and five sixes before being caught behind with 65 to his name, and Spark lighting things up with seven sixes and four other boundaries as he smashed 72.
But credit to the Barney bowlers and they earned some late reward as Joe Blackburn and Rob Stanwix picked up a couple of wickets each, Rockliffe ending their 28 overs on a total of 227-8. Barney were then blitzed out for just 60 in 26.5 overs, three batsmen being snared in the Gary Warr chest, and four, chopped down by Wood. Ian Potts then rounded things off and wrapped up the title with 2-14.
In the end the victory wasn’t absolutely necessary, although it provided much greater satisfaction winning it out on the park rather than sat in a rain soaked dressing room, which was the fate that befell second-placed Middleton St George who suffered an abandonment with ten overs of their match with Aldbrough St John still to go.
The George piled on 218-7 in their 40 overs, Steve Rogers cracking six fours and two sixes in his top scoring 54, and then the Aldbrough response was washed out with the visitors standing on 131-6, Jack Stapleton with 11 boundaries in his opening 59.
In the day’s other games Barton defeated Richmond by nine wickets after bowling them out for just 89. Tony Millar the main man with 5-23, Brompton battered Middletonin- Teesdale by nine wickets with Aaron Allinson (4-6) and Mark Tiplady (3-11) the destroyers as the hosts were bowled out for 74, and Raby Castle’s Simon Lee hit another century, his 117 including 12 fours and five sixes as his side overwhelmed Cliffe by 166 runs.
But the unluckiest side were Haughton. They pegged Spennymoor down to 121-9 in 40 overs, and then raced to 96 without loss as Sam Bainbridge (48 not out) and Stuart Laundy (42 not out) tried to outpace the storm clouds – but the weather couldn’t be beaten and the game was abandoned with 20 overs remaining.