HAYDON Bridge jumped above their hosts Hexham Leazes to go into third spot in the Division One table.

It’s tight at the top of the division with just 26 points separating the top four teams, and Bridge’s victory kept alive their faint hopes of knocking West Tynedale rivals Haltwhistle off top spot.

Saturday’s clash between Bridge and Leazes was deemed a must win for both teams, and it was the away side who were celebrating after returning with maximum points.

A second-wicket partnership between Andrew Whitaker and Ross Davies put Hexham in a decent position, but Bridge’s bowlers were on the top of their game throughout.

After Jamie Taylor made the breakthrough, Gavin Boyd and Ian Watson shared the wickets with the latter in particularly devastating form by finishing with 4-16.

Hexham’s batsmen struggled to make double figures with Alex Brown the only other home player to join Whitaker and Davies past 10 runs, but he was run out in pursuit of further runs and Leazes were dismissed for 133.

Haydon Bridge’s innings started well enough with Joe Barber and Neil Kendrew ticking the scoreboard along, but they faced some good deliveries from Harry Fitton who accounted for both and number three Robert Gibson.

Watson and Taylor stepped things up and their good work was continued by Graham Gradwell and Mick Cunningham as they reached their target despite good spells from Lucas Holmes.

Haltwhistle remain in the driving seat as they made light work of bottom club Belsay for a maximum haul of 20 points.

Belsay failed to make a collective ton with Archie Richardson in particular fine form for title favourites Halty with four wickets.

Richardson claimed the key wickets of Belsay and it wasn’t until Townson and Richard Mills were thrown together in the middle that the away side managed to get the runs flowing.

Haltwhistle were in the mood to finish the game early and openers Bart Ryan and Ben Lloyd ensured their innings was concluded in 24 overs. Both openers finished on 42 runs, with Lloyd remaining undefeated but Ryan succumbed to a delivery from Townson to allow Phil Thompson the briefest of cameos.

Last season’s champions Humshaugh remained within the chasing pack with 20 points from their slender 13-run success over South Northumberland.

They would have felt like they were in trouble when they lost openers Will Forster and Adam Murphy early on, but the third wicket pairing of Rob Forster and Hedley Renton steadied the ship.

Steven Arnup contributed with a good knock while Carl Binovec’s late stand proved crucial as Humshaugh made their way to 128 before they were all out. Archie Fletcher claimed two early wickets to leave South North in trouble, with Will Forster also getting in on the act.

The visitors found scoring hard to come by but a solid 48 from Taqwa brought them to within touching distance of their goal.

Humshaugh’s bowlers stuck to their task and Rob Forster ensured the reigning champions were coming away with the points by claiming three victims.

Teenagers Ellie Tiffin and Lizzie Scott opened the bowling for Matfen Hall with devastating effect.

They were asked by Matfen captain Alex Pearse to lead the line against Benwell Hill III and they did not disappoint, both claiming 3-5 from their allotted six overs to leave Hill limping along at 10-6.

Benwell’s order did not quite cut the mustard although Haydon Mustard played a big role in helping his team to 67, with Haroon Malik the only other batsman to make double figures.

Matfen opener Michael Watts top scored for his side as they too found scoring runs tricky, but a late knock of Aaron Tiffin helped up the run rate as Matfen secured 19 points through the three wicket victory.

Newton boosted their chances of a top half finish as they defeated Wylam in a close-fought encounter.

Wylam batted first and made 110, brothers David and James Teasdale setting a good platform for the rest of the order with a solid start.

But Andy Goulding claimed the scalp of both siblings to stem the flow, but decent contributions from Ross Wilson and Matthew Lamb steered Wylam past the 100 mark.

Newton had a mixed start to their innings, but the partnership of Daniel Taylor and Matt Scattergood put them on the road to victory.

The bowling of Eddy Jackson and Joe Orrell disrupted their rhythm, but the experienced Jim Balkwill kept his head to see his team to a 20 point victory.

While they were absent at the weekend, Stocksfield III were celebrating clinching the Division Two title as they can no longer be caught.

Their championship was confirmed the previous weekend as the wet weekend meant none of their rivals were able to close the gap.

Stocksfield IV were celebrating a third victory of the campaign as they put Medomsley Swordsmen to the sword.

Paul Brown took all the plaudits as he claimed five wickets without conceding a run from his three overs, Medomsley limping to 42 all out as they failed to make it past 24 overs. Medomsley’s batsmen failed to make an impact with captain Jordan Bell top scoring with eight.

Bell and Mark Jameson ensured it wasn’t going to be as easy for Stocksfield as they may have thought, but knocks from Tom Storey and Sam Douglas secured the victory.