AFTER a week where talk of a eight-team premier league dominated Newcastle district cricket, the bottom four sides fought back with vengeance today.
Newcastle City, Charlestown, Waratah-Mayfield and Belmont are all in dominant positions after day one of round 15.
A marathon knock of 140 in 344 minutes from Englishman Richard Wharton took the cellar-dwellers to 9-351 against Wallsend at Wallsend Oval.
Wharton opened the innings and was dismissed only 10 runs short of the close of innings.
City captain Jesse Major ended a bad trot of form to score 103 from 116 balls in 134-run stand with Wharton.
A devastating late spell of 4-14 off seven overs from Charlestown quick Parth Shah at No.1 Sportsground left Stockton-Raymond Terrace reeling at 6-34 at stumps in reply to the 11th-placed Magpies’ 141.
Shah was on a hat-trick in the opening over of the innings when he had Jeff Goninan and Sam Jenkinson removed for ducks.
Stockton were 4-5 at one stage before limping to stumps.
The sixth-placed Stockton badly need a victory to remain in the hunt for the semi-finals.
Belmont’s Jace Lawson (3-28) and Graeme Cameron (2-23) left University shell-shocked at 6-52 at University Oval.
Earlier, Jono Laverick (77) and Daniel Bailey (37 not out) helped bat the ninth-placed Belmont to 220 against a powerful University bowling attack.
The 10th-placed Waratah-Mayfield (5-100) also have a major chance to cost Hamilton-Wickham (143) top spot next week at Waratah Oval.
Sam Harrison (5-31 off 13.2 overs) was the best of the Waratah bowlers, with Kirk Mullard (31) and Sam Webber (49) the only Hamwicks batsmen to score over 12.
Merewether and Western Suburbs were the only favourites to play to the form guide.
Both are in dominant positions leading into day two.
The Lions declared for 9-300 at Townson Oval against Toronto Workers thanks to a 102 from NSW Country batsman Pat Darwen.
The knock rescued his side from 3-36. Sam Gilmour (47) and Simon Moore (39) also made contributions.
At stumps Toronto are 1-30 after Matt Petersen fell to Mark Cameron for a golden duck.
Wests will be confident of returning to the top four next week as they finished 8-365 against Cardiff-Boolaroo at Harker Oval.
Cardiff paid the price for dropped catches, with Anthony Hobson (91) and Ben Woolmer (73) putting on a 133-run partnership.