North Down, the defending Premier League champions, have hit the front for the first time, exactly halfway through this season.
Victory over Civil Service North yesterday and defeat for Instonians, at home to Waringstown put the Comber side clear at the top and sets the standard for the rest to match in the second half of the campaign.
Iain Robertson with a century and Neil Russell (72 from 47 balls) got North Down to 255 for five — the same total they reached in the aborted Challenge Cup semi-final against Waringstown on Saturday — and although Gareth McKee and Kieran Noema-Barnett put on 80 for the third wicket, the introduction of Ralph Coetzee (3-20) regained control for the champions.
When rain washed out the match after 34 overs, CSN were 50 runs short of the Duckworth/Lewis par on 144 for six.
It was always going to be difficult for Instonians to follow up their Challenge Cup semi final success on Saturday — when they defeated Lisburn by 26 runs in another rain-affected game, especially without Rory McCann, their top scorer with an unbeaten 67.
Waringstown were missing half of their slow bowling line-up, Lee Nelson and Gary Kidd, but James Hall made up for their absence with figures of four for 47 and with Simon Stokes also picking up a four-for, Instonians were bowled out for 162, 72 runs shy of their revised target after Instonians had scored 239 for four.
Hall and Kyle McCallan both hit half centuries .
In yesterday’s other Premier League game, Lisburn quickly got over the disappointment of their cup defeat with a straightforward seven wickets win over Woodvale at Wallace Park.
Craig Ervine scored 59 not out as Lisburn passed the Belfast side’s 150 for seven in the 35th over to stay four points behind the new leaders with a match in hand.
At the other end of the table, Bangor finally broke their duck for the season on Saturday, in their 11th game.
Although they scored only 193 for seven in 40 overs, Duckworth Lewis revised Ballymena’s target up to 223 and Ballymena, despite James Kennedy’s 67, finished 18 runs short.
They are still four wins short of getting out of the relegation place, however.
CIYMS and Carrickfergus are the teams in their sights after CI won the game between the sides at Belmont.
Paul Coverdale took five wickets as Carrick were bowled out for 188 and Derek Heasley then continued his stunning run of form with 90 as the home side won by six wickets in less than 36 overs.
Nigel Jones was also out 10 short of a century in CSN’s easy victory over Woodvale, bowled out for 120 and losers by 110 runs.
The NCU confirmed last night that the Challenge Cup semi-final, between Waringstown and North Down, will be played next Sunday back at The Lawn.