A fluent half century from Henry Thompson and five wickets from Karl Cross saw Leyland crush Darwen and leapfrog them into top spot.
David Makinson’s side convincingly defeated the East Lancashire outfit by 68 runs at Fox Lane.
Boosted by the addition of Lancashire opener and former professional Luis Reece, they made a sluggish start with the bat losing talented all-rounder Danny Lamb for one.
Reece and overseas-amateur Alex Ross both found the boundaries in knocks of 24 and 19 but both failed to kick on and fell to the bowling of Neil Cordingley.
Thompson, batting at No.4, played excellently for his 57 hitting 10 fours but at the other end wickets continued to tumble, Cross, Nathan
McDonnell and Chris Parkinson all falling cheaply.
Andrew Makinson scored an important 28 towards the end of the innings as Leyland closed on 148-9 off 50 overs.
Defending a relatively low total, Leyland needed an early breakthrough and they got that thanks to opening bowlers Reece and Cross.
Reece removed brothers Christopher and Jordan Clarke for just four runs between them before Cross joined the party by taking the wickets of the destructive Ammer Mirza and veteran John Cordingley.
With Darwen on the ropes Leyland sensed an early win.
Cross and Reece continued to take wickets removing professional George Linde, Kamran Anwar and Reece Davies.
The Birch Hall outfit simply had no answer to the Leyland seamers with Reece finishing the day with 4-31 and Cross 5-23.
It was left to leg-spinner Tayyab Afsar to take the final wicket of the match as Leyland showed their title credentials outplaying Darwen cruising to a comfortable victory and giving Darwen their first league defeat of the season.
n Tom Reece was the star of the show for Leyland 2nds with an unbeaten century as they completely outplayed Darwen 2nds in a 165-run victory for Ian Farrington’s side.
The impressive Steven Pallett once again showed his quality with the ball running through the Darwen batting line up as he took 6-3 off nine overs.
Batting first, skipper Farrington declared with his side on 211-4.
Reece the main contributor with a superb 103.
Big-hitter James Rounding also hit 51.
Darwen didn’t last 20 overs in their chase as Pallett demolished their batting line-up.
Brothers Will and Andrew Jacques shared three wickets before Rounding finished off the match by bowling Ronald Nairey with Darwen only