ON A day of shocks, league leaders Chester-le-Street lost for the first time in a year, second-placed Blaydon crashed to defeat and South Shields eased their relegation worries with only their second victory of the season.
The Cestrians had not lost a league game since the July 24 2010, and on the anniversary of that defeat they were found wanting again as Sunderland raised their game to earn a 58-run victory.
Joe Coyne hit an opening 65 for the Ashbrooke outfit, and with Ashley Thorpe (36) being backed up by a late flurry from Chris Rushworth (31) Sunderland put on 187.
Rushworth then took out the cream of the Chester batting in a brilliant opening burst that earned him three wickets for five runs, and though youngster Chris Martin showed great defiance with a half-century it was not enough to stave off defeat as Rushworth (4-21) and Jaspreet Singh (4-53) wrapped things up.
Blaydon decided to bat when winning the toss at Denefield against South North, a decision they came to regret as the Bulls had them rocking as Steve Humble smashed through the normally free-scoring top order.
Blaydon slumped to 18-3 and then 62-5 as Humble ran riot, and even though Henry Nicholls anchored a recovery of sorts, with 47 in 83 balls, it was only delaying the inevitable as Humble returned for a second spell to wrap things up.
He finished with the superb figures of 16.2 overs, 6-26 with the home team dismissed for 146.
A careful opening stand of 89 then effectively put the game to bed, John Graham making 47 from 107 balls and Adam Heather proving immoveable with an unbeaten 58 from 161 balls that eased his side to an eight-wicket win in 54.1 overs.
South Shields' four-wicket win at Tynemouth came courtesy of a superb display of bowling from Queenslander Matt Jenson.
The Aussie took 8-28 as the home team slumped to 101 all out, and even though the Shieldsmen were in trouble themselves on 72-6, they held their nerve to secure a crucial victory.
That win lifted them above Stockton in the table, but the Teessiders can count themselves unlucky after losing by just three runs in a tremendous game at Jesmond.
The Teessiders looked likely winners on several occasions, not least when they plucked out the first five home batsmen for 32 runs, but then brilliant batting from Martin Fearon (86) and Ed Common (74no) saved the Tynesiders' bacon as they eventually reached the apparent safety of 252-9.
Stockton then put themselves back in control as Shane Peake (57), Jimmy Ward (75) and Dave Seymour (38) dominated until Gary Bateman turned the game on its head once more.
Fourth change Bateman bagged 5-39, and with Mark Cryer snapping up a further three wickets, Stockton lost their last four batsmen for just two runs to lose in astonishing fashion.
Benwell Hill suffered a 17-run home defeat at the hands of the Durham Academy despite six wickets from Joe Kilpatrick and a century from Ali Maiden, while Gateshead Fell salvaged a draw on 185-9 after being set 245 to win by Hetton Lyons, Shaun Birbeck hitting 92 for the Lyons and Matt Milton cracking 107 for Gateshead.