Tonge captain Connor Lord’s sensational 5-15 from 15 overs saw off champions Little Lever by five wickets on Saturday and boosted their hopes of a top-12 Premiership finish in the Anthony Axford North West Cricket League.

Seamer Lord’s devastating new-ball spell - his season’s best haul - skittled visitors Little Lever for 81, setting up win number 10 for a Tonge side who jumped to ninth in the table.

The top 12 teams will play in next season’s top tier as the NWCL splits into two, and eight teams could still finish either side of the divide.

Tonge lost five wickets in reply but were never threatened. Sri Lankan professional Hashan Dumindu top-scored with 26, consigning the inaugural champions to a second defeat in 2023.

It was a low-scoring Saturday - the first of three remaining rounds.

Across the 12 Premiership fixtures, seven teams were bowled out for less than 120, including both Barnoldswick and victorious Read in their match.

Ribblesdale Wanderers, in the race for the top 12, claimed a five-wicket home win against fellow challengers Astley Bridge chasing 136.

Former England international batter Owais Shah was their sub-pro, but his contribution was minimal - one wicket and 14 runs.

Ian Britcliffe starred with a superb 6-24 from 12 overs in Bridge’s 135-9. Andrew Needham’s measured 58 then ensured win number 12 for 10th-placed Wanderers.

Cherry Tree pro Ross Bretherton’s brilliant 7-18 from 13 new-ball overs bowled hosts Earby out for only 53.

Bretherton’s return was the fourth best in this season’s Premiership.

Cherry Tree only lost four wickets in reply. Charlie Elwood finished things off with 24 off only eight balls to keep their hopes alive. They are 13th with eight wins.

While Read are 15th on 128 points, with 24 still available, eighth-placed Kearsley are in pole position on 143 after their 11th win - at home to fellow challengers Salesbury (112 all out) by nine wickets.

Neylan Chauhan starred with 5-40 added to Mohammed Jameel’s four-for. Kearsley’s unbeaten South African amateur Byron Giraudeaux opened the batting and smashed 80 off 57 balls in reply.

Settle are also in the mid-table log-jam and won a three-wicket thriller at Feniscowles chasing 118.

Sri Lankan pro, Ashen Silva, and West Indian amateur, Tremaine Dowrich, spun their way to four wickets apiece, before John Davidson top-scored with 43 in a successful chase which slipped to 49-5.

Eagley, safe in seventh, secured their 10th win and are eyeing a top-four finish for Lancashire Knockout qualification.

Pakistani pro, Ayaz Tasawar, continued his stunning summer with the ball. He claimed 6-32 from 10 overs of leg-spin to bowl bottom side Walkden out for 78.

Tasawar, backed up by four wickets for teenage left-arm spinner Luca Doyle, has now struck 82 times in all cricket.

Padiham leapfrogged Blackrod into fifth, beating them by seven wickets, chasing 155 at home.

Saminda Senapathi’s lower-order 63 recovered Blackrod from 95-8 to 154-9. Pro Jack Edgar struck four times for Padiham and then top-scored with 51 not out opening in response, securing a 12th win.

Farnworth Social Circle are second after they beat Atherton by eight wickets chasing 138 - their 13th success this year.

Spinner Chris Barrow claimed four wickets for Social Circle in Atherton’s 137 all out before Bajan pro Jameel Stuart’s unbeaten 56 led the response.

Lostock took advantage of Farnworth’s surprise loss at Oswaldtwistle Immanuel to move into third, beating Brinscall by 19 runs defending a 150 target.

Opener Conner Hicklin top-scored with 63 in Lostock’s 149 all out, before Pakistani pro, Akbar Ur Rehman, claimed four wickets in Brinscall’s 130-9 reply.

Oswaldtwistle, in the bottom half, beat now fourth-placed Farnworth by 53 runs. Pro Brad Boddie top-scored with 76 off 68 balls in 202 all out before captain Kurt Smithson’s excellent new-ball 5-52 bowled Farnworth out for 149.

The lowly clash between Baxenden and visitors Whalley produced the most runs.

Whalley won by 10 runs defending their 216-6, which included a measured 79 from pro Levi Wolfenden. Australian amateur Noah Panaia then claimed four wickets in Baxenden’s 206 all out.