CLECKHEATON’S incentive for following up last weekend’s victory over Pudsey St Lawrence with another choice scalp in Woodlands is seemingly obvious.
Back up Saturday’s hard-earned 14-run win over Saints with another key-note triumph over their near-neighbours and fellow Division One title combatants – and a big gap at the top will open up between themselves and their two big rivals.
But for the champions and leaders, that won’t be the main motivator at Albert Terrace this weekend, more what happened at Moorend on April 26 when Woodlands’ Safraz Ahmed took wickets with the first two balls of the final over to seal an unlikely tie in the heavyweight clash.
Cleck chairman Dave Worrall, whose side welcome back swing bowler Ian Wood following a minor knee operation this weekend – with Iain Wardlaw unavailable – said: “I think ourselves, Woodlands or Pudsey St Lawrence will win it this year, that’s my view.
“I am sure the Woodlands game will be as tough as last week, although I was particularly disappointed when we tied with them at home and I know the players were. If we can take that into the game, it will benefit us.”
On the season thus far for Cleck, also in the last four of the Priestley Cup and Black Sheep Trophy, he added: “We are doing okay, so far so good. We have injuries and are coping with them and it’s a bit of a team effort. But we will not be counting our chickens.
“We are in two semi-finals and are top of the league and we’d have taken that at halfway! We just need to perform in the second half as we have in the first.
“The fact we hadn’t won the league before and must come and defend it and the fact we have shown we really, really want to keep it has been the most pleasing thing so far.
“We have a really close bunch of players who deserve all the success they get.
“Games like Saturday and this weekend are the games we really want to play in.
“You could see why Pudsey are top of the league with us on Saturday and they just wouldn’t go away. We had to constantly raise our game to get victory.
“For a neutral, it was great. There is a chap from Essex who is touring around league cricket and he said it was one of the best games he had seen. It was two good teams going hammer and tongs at each other.”
Saints made a brave run chase on Saturday, none moreso than leading league run scorer Mark Robertshaw, who hit 97 in their reply of 231-9 after Cleck opened with 245-6.
In-form duo Mally Nicholson (74) and Andy Gorrod (71) excelled for the Moorenders, with a late flurry from Richard Whitehurst (30) also proving key. Tanzeel Altaf continued his fine year with 5-56.
Twelve points adrift of Cleck are Woodlands (222-6), who accounted for Lightcliffe (167-8), thanks to notable contributions from Logan Weston (57no), Sam Frankland (44) and Scott Richardson jnr (4-42).
Pudsey Congs (195-8) moved off the bottom with a priceless if dramatic one-run win over East Bierley (194). Bierley needed two runs off the last ball to win, only for Luke Jarvis to be run out. Mubtaba Ahtar took 4-56 for Congs.
Overseas man Graham Hume (5-19) and skipper Mark Harrison (53) sparkled as fourth-placed Farsley (154-8) saw off Morley (153-9), for whom Richard Winn (70) top-scored.
New Farnley (69) slumped to a dismal loss at Bradford and Bingley (110), despite Mark Lawson’s 6-30.