Bowls: South Leeds look for a big lift from derby clash

South Leeds go into the next round of matches in the Yorkshire County Indoor Bowls League this Saturday, knowing that a derby win against high-flying Featherstone could all but ensure their safety in the top flight.

The side currently sit in penultimate spot in the league, hovering narrowly above the single team drop zone presently occupied by last year's Division Two champions Redcar.

The margin of error, the difference that separates the two sides, is eight shots and with 18 points for a win, that could clearly be overturned in one game.

Yet with both sides averaging single-figure totals from their previous three games (South Leeds at little over four, whilst Redcar are struggling on two per game), any points that South Leeds can pick up on Saturday against Featherstone should push them further away from that dreaded last spot.

South Leeds and Redcar don't meet until the penultimate weekend of action at the end of February.

Between now and then, the Blue and Golds face Featherstone and then sit a round of matches out due to the removal of Hull from the programme of fixtures.

The side from the North East have Thornaby, who beat South Leeds last time out and Huddersfield – two sides any promoted team should be looking to pick points from.

If South Leeds go down, without registering much in terms of a contest on Saturday, there is every chance that Redcar could overtake them in the league standings.

The other positive for Redcar is that they have played the strongest three sides in the league to this point, where as South Leeds still have to play Featherstone and York.

But even if South Leeds go down 16-2 or 14-4, as is the case of late, they should still come out of February with their noses in front.

Do that and they know that with Redcar's bye week falling on the final weekend of fixtures, they are home and hosed and fighting in Division One once more.

Meanwhile, Featherstone look in prime position for top spot at this stage.

Even with their expunged result against the now-departed Hull, the West Yorkshire maestros have still managed to rack up 32 points from their two games played.

It leaves them in second place, 12 points behind Scarborough who have played a game more.

The more telling factor is the number of shots that Featherstone have over their nearest rival.

They are averaging 42 shots more than their opponents per game while Scarborough are coming through with a still-respectable 17-shot advantage per match.

Lurking in third spot is York. We might have suggested that this league was a two-horse race, with Scarborough not necessarily one of those horses. However, with three wins in the bag it's wrong to dismiss them, even if it appears there are stronger sides in the league.

Where Scarborough may benefit from is York's continued involvement in the Denny Cup and Featherstone's seasonal player-management issues.

Should Featherstone face a game or two without their full complement of stars, the door would be left wide open for Scarborough to secure top spot; and not for the first time.

Division Two of the league is being dominated by the usual faces in North Cave, Doncaster and New Earswick this season.

Only one of those sides, North Cave, possibly has it in them to survive in the top flight, should they go up to face the big boys.

With two sides going up, the top tier strugglers this time around will be looking to pick off early points against the promoted sides next season.

Featherstone are looming large in the Hebden Trophy once more, sitting in second spot behind North Cave after four games.

If the first team are bossing their games in Division One, the Hebden side have secured at least 17.5 points per game to this stage.

South Leeds are enjoying a season at this level for the first time in a

while, sitting in the mid-point of the table with a double point average from their four games.

Thomas Christiansen

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