THE early season game of musical chairs with the leadership of the First Division continued as Burnmoor bounced back to the top of the table at the expense of Dawdon, with Horden also emerging as serious contenders after they notched up an impressive victory to go second.

Despite the game at Castle Eden being expected to test Burnmoor, the champions dominated the match from start to finish to pick up maximum points and establish a nine point lead. Stephen Meek’s 71 was a useful way to sign off for a while – he misses the next four matches – and with David Lowther (39) and Brydon Carse (37) adding their two pennyworth the Moor were able to declare with 204-6 on the board.

The home team were never in the hunt, despite 36 from opener Phil Winpenny, as Carse (3-19), Ian Conn (3-17) and debut boy Will Philips (2-35) dominated, Castle crumbling to 106 all out to lose by 98 runs.

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Dawdon started the day as leaders, but Crook Town pushed them all the way before a keenly contested match ended with a share of the spoils. Dawdon declared after 45 overs with 177-7, John Leslie amongst the runs once more with 44.

But Steve Chapman had claimed 4-37 in 11 overs, and he went on to be an even bigger thorn in the home team’s side after watching four of his batting colleagues disappear for just four runs when the Town run chase began. With Dawdon’s tail right up Chapman (51) and Lewis Formosa (44 not out) restored order, and then Andy Burgess (51) almost took Crook to an unlikely win as they ended just afew runs short on 163-6 from 46 overs.

Meanwhile Horden were polishing off hosts Hylton by 116 runs to go second and leave their beaten hosts languishing in the relegation zone.

A second wicket partnership of substance between Lee Gilbert (77) and Sahil Madgaonkar (70) laid the foundations for a declared score of 202-8, and then skipper Carl Watson (6-20) blew away the home resistance with an outstanding burst.

For the second week in a row Esh Winning’s batting failed them, but this time they were able to claw back victory from the jaws of defeat. Easington’s Sameer Haque proved virtually unplayable in a 6.1 over spell in which he claimed 5-8 which left the home team on 77-9 from 30 overs, at which stage they declared to provide the chance of claiming more points should they be able to defend that paltry target. And defend it they could as Jalat Khan ripped through the visitors line-up with a 9.5 over spell in which he took 7-14. With Paul Chivers (3-29) mopping up the rest Easington collapsed to 44 all out.

Elsewhere in the top flight Mainsforth (190-8) dominated but could not defeat Philadelphia (76-9), Tudhoe hammered Marsden by nine wickets after bowling them out for 81, and Boldon CA at last got a home game, putting it to excellent use with a six wicket victory over Evenwood.

In Division Two Durham City claimed the bragging rights when they toppled the leaders at the start of the day, Langley Park, by eight wickets. Aussie Nick Maiolo was the undoubted star of the show, picking up 5-23 as Park were closed down for just 110, and then top scoring in the relatively brief run chase with an unbeaten 43.

Ryhope put down a marker to the rest of the division as they romped to a 130-run victory over Silksworth. John Minnis hit eight fours and two sixes on his way to a top scoring 53 out of Ryhope’s 44 over score of 217-9, and then James Summerside ripped out six Silks batters at a cost of only 28 runs, the visitors crumbling to 79 all out. Victory put Ryhope second.

The only other winners were Ushaw Moor who recorded their first win of the campaign by 119 runs over Murton, Billy Teesdale (31 and 5-31) the inspiration. Meanwhile Greg Upton’s half century gave Shildon (195-9) the upper hand against Seaham Park (137-7), only for John Sample (74 not out) to deny them by batting through more than 44 overs, and Whiteleas (142-7) home game against Bill Quay (199-9) fizzled out into a tame draw.