As the clubs reached the halfway stage, Great Ayton lead the way with a healthy 23-point advantage.

They won for the sixth time, beating Marton by 94 runs. Ayton batted first after losing the toss and they totalled 219-6, with Chris Batchelor on 33 and top scorer Chris Allinson making 69, before professional Pitigala Jeewantha scored 56, with spinner Muhammed Zahid claiming 3-66.

Marton were blown away by paceman Joe Marsey, who claimed 4-27, in a blistering opening spell alongside Jeewantha who took 4-21, to have the visitors all out for 125.

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Stokesley remain second after claiming the maximum 25 points at home to winless Norton.

The home side won the toss and batted, scoring a mammoth 254-4 declared with Andrew Weighell leading the way with 131 runs off 114 balls, with 12 fours and two sixes. Johnny Weighell added 61 off 64 balls, in a 167 run partnership with his brother for the second wicket.

Norton’s opening batsmen Adam Fenby made a useful 48, nearly carrying his bat, but when he was the eighth man out, the game was over. Richard Chandler took 4-34 with the bottom club scoring 130 all out.

Barnard Castle remain third, after their last two batsmen, Jack Robinson and Robert Dixon, put on 19 runs for the last wicket, to beat Seaton Carew, who were unable to get the crucial last wicket, when it looked certain that they would win.

Richard Borrowdale took 3-14 in his opening spell, which had the home side in all sorts of trouble, at 6-3 and 77-6.

However, in amongst all the mayhem, Usman Arshad batted beautifully for 84, with nine fours and two sixes off just 94 balls. His innings allowed the home side to reach 139 all out, with Simon Tennant taking 4-15 off just 4.2 overs.

When the visitors batted, they too were in trouble at 67-5, with the home side looking good.

David Storey and Paul Braithwaite bowled well, each taking two wickets, but opening batsmen Tennant held his nerve, with 56 off 115 balls.

Seaton were always in control until the end, with Arshad claimed 3-26, and the champions finishing on 140-9.

Richmondshire claimed 25 points at Windy Hill Lane, when they beat Marske by 40 runs. They remain fourth, after making 193-6. Robert Carr made 82 not out, including 11 fours and a six. Steven Mather added 38, with Benjamin Van Rensburg claiming 3-27.

The Seasiders struggled with the bat, although most made a start they could not push on. Sam Wood’s bowling, 3-44, and Craig Marshall, who is having an excellent season with the ball, took 4-27, to clean up the tail.

At the bottom end there were two draws, with Darlington unable to get opening bowler Chris Nicholls away, as he conceded only 16 runs from his 15 overs.

Opener James Sutton made a solid 47 off 126 balls and Liam Coates smashed 43 runs off 41, with Dale Marshall adding 30 not out in 164-4 off 50 overs.

In reply, Guisborough could not build any partnerships, and with Jonny Barnes removing Shanuka Dissanayake and Tyrone Webster for 16 runs apiece, they were in control. Graham Murray top scored with 33 to his name and Muhammed Saad took 3-24 to give his side hope, but Dan Bowman and Stu Mackay dug in and batted out for the draw, finishing on 137-7.

Hartlepool clung on for a draw at Middlesbrough, scoring 168-9 with last pair Chris Harrison and Brad Frank, batting out. Opening bat James Ward got them off to a positive start, scoring 72 runs off 118 balls, including seven fours and a six, but James Beaumont with 4-64 and with Steven Reeves claiming 3-29, Boro were on top.

The home side scored 220. Adil Ditta top scored with 55 and skipper James Lowe added 54. Reeves then hit 44, with opening bowler and skipper Doug Mulholland, claiming the last five wickets, at a cost of 57 runs.