Hartlepool back on top of the table

Hartlepool are back in pole position after Richmondshire suffered a dose of the jitters which saw their bid for the championship collapse around them for the second time this summer.

Just as they did a third of the way into the season, the Dalesmen couldn't deal with the pressure of being leaders and dropped back into the chasing back.

Pool, two defeats in successive games before last week's programme was washed out, avoided another possible banana skin to record a vital win at Barnard Castle, while Richmond had to show all their battling qualities to fight off defeat at Stokesley where they survived with a draw but saw their ambitions dented.

They started the day with a three-point lead over Pool, but after a maiden century for Will Brown had put Stokesley into a position of strength as they posted 195, they were hijacked by their hosts' new professional, Gurshwin Rabie, who took five wickets on his debut.

The South African pace bowler suffered cramp at one stage, but returned to bowl the last of 16 overs in conceding only 45 runs. The Dalesmen, having lost half their wickets for 75, finished with 150-9 after Richard Carruthers (39 not out) led a late rearguard action.

Pool, leaders by seven points, didn't have all their own way at Barney where they lost six wickets in scoring the 139 needed for victory.

Callum Prosser (4-53) and Mark Symington (3-34) hit top form as they each bowled 17 overs, but it needed Kasun Bodhisha (33) to settle nerves after Pool lost three wickets for 13 runs early in their reply.

Marton ramped up the pressure on the top two by gaining their sixth win in eight games, making a nonsense of being 56 points behind the leaders in the process. They are now 14 points adrift in third place.

Their latest victory was against Billingham Synthonia with Sri Lankan professional Upul Indrasiri (6-54) demolishing the visitors' batting before his side got the 122 runs needed with six wickets in hand.

A win by just four runs for Marske against fellow strugglers Northallerton gave them renewed hope that they might avoid relegation, but little else changed in the lower positions with Bishop Auckland despite one of their best batting displays, still unable to lift themselves off the bottom.

Phil Holdsworth hit his first century of the season as Bishops totalled 231-7 against Darlington, whose reply of 130-8 included four wickets for Dan Conway. Quakers' Doug Mulholland (4-67) became the first in the league to reach 50 wickets.

Marske's victory - only their second - was a triumph for Josh Carroll (6-61) who just missed out on a hat-trick. Chris Allinson hit 54 of the Seasiders' total of 168 and Brad Elsworth (45) almost got Northallerton over the line.

Middlesbrough aren't altogether safe after a poor points return in a draw at Guisborough where former Boro batsman Jon Spillane hit his highest league score - 73 with seven boundaries - against his old team. Only Dan Hodgson (56) performed well enough for Boro who were set to score 187 to win and fell short by 47 runs with two wickets remaining.

Great Ayton kept their season alive as title outsiders with a four-wicket win at Normanby Hall with Steve Pennock (40) and Ian West (4-41 from 17 overs) showing star quality. The return of Janaka Gunerathne (63) made a difference to the Normanby batting.

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