Bradford League: Lawrence eye hat-trick after back-to-back titles

Hanging Heaton's Nick Connolly.

Hanging Heaton's Nick Connolly.

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TITLE successes really do arrive like London buses sometimes.

After last year’s first Bradford League championship success since 1991, Pudsey St Lawrence have backed up in pretty consummate fashion, with the ‘champione’ chants filling the air during a victorious evening at Tofts Road on Saturday.

It came after St Lawrence claimed the points haul and victory that they required on the final day against Bradford and Bingley to clinch silverware in the face of a strong challenge from Hanging Heaton and some impressive feats from surprise packages Farsley.

Not that St Lawrence had that much time to reflect on their triumph, with the side back in action in the Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Trophy final against York at Sherrif Hutton Bridge on Sunday.

That particular result may have gone against James Smith’s side, with Yorkshire player Jack Leaning hitting a ton for York, but the priority was always Saturday with it being very much a case of job done.

Needing 16 points to secure the title, St Lawrence did not have it all their own way against Bingley, who were well set at 134-7 with 17 overs to go in reply to the hosts’ 245-7.

But the visitors promptly slumped to 157 all out, mainly thanks to a key spell of 3-5 from left-armer Charlie Parker and the party could begin.

Earlier, Barrie Frankland (65), Adam Waite (55), and captain Smith (44) helped the hosts secure maximum batting points.

On back-to-back titles, Smith said: “It is a great effort to win it again. We were the guys to be shot at. We had a bit of a wobble when Hanging Heaton overtook us, but we got the performance in the last game to bring it home again.

“Our mentality of winning it last year and playing the sort of cricket to stay in contention has been key and we have gone about the games well and not panicked.

“When you look at the likes of Congs and Woodlands in the 2000s and they had the same type of players who were doing it year in year out for them.

“As a captain, it gives you so much pride when you are able to see our lads do it again and show the mental pressure to perform and execute their skills to the best that they can.

“We are also a good age as a squad and hopefully we can give it a good run next year and try and make it three.

“We have developed some good young lads with the intent and we have always also had the experienced lads there to lead them along and help. It is a good mixture really.”

And on the celebrations, he added: “We didn’t have a late one, but it was a good party. But we had to take it a bit sensible as we had the Black Sheep final on the next day.”

Heaton finished fourth points behind St Lawrence in second after beating New Farnley by 60 runs, with it fitting that they ended a fine season in victorious fashion.

Nick Connolly ended on 99 not out for the Tewits’ in their card of 230-5, while Rob McFarlane hit 54 on his first-team return.

In reply, Farnley were dismissed for 170, with Muhammed Rameez ending an excellent debut season with 5-43.

Lee Goddard (53) and James Middlebrook (50) hit well-constructed half-centuries for the hosts.

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THERE was despair for Morley, whose relegation from the Bradford League top flight was confirmed following a 93-run loss to Pudsey Congs.

Morley made some early inroads when they reduced their opponents to 17-3, but the complexion of the match was transformed by a rapid fourth-wicket stand of 123 between Callum Geldart and Andrew Bairstow, with the latter providing a timely contribution in his final innings for the club before retiring.

Bairstow signed off with 46, while Geldart ended the season as he started it, with a fine century in crafting 105 from just 71 balls with six sixes and 13 fours. Both contributions helped Congs post a testing score of 266-9, with overseas man Kashif Naveed taking 3-35 in his last game for Morley.

Replying, Morley never truly threatened and were dismissed for 173, Henry Rush (32) top-scoring. Young bowler Jamie Allen took a superb 6-55 for the victors.

Meanwhile, there was a crumb of comfort for rock-bottom Scholes, who ended the season with a fine victory over high-flying Farsley. A battling performance in keeping with some spirited showings this year saw openers Kasir Maroof (49) and Rizwan Ahmed (42) chip in with the leading contributions in Scholes’ innings of 239-8. Replying, Farsley fell five short, despite the efforts of Greg Pickles (56) and Matthew Revis (55).

East Bierley (195), who started the game with relegation fears, went down to Cleckheaton (243-5), but the result was rendered academic by Morley’s loss.

Mohammad Zaman hit an impressive 114 not out for Cleck and shared an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 162 with in-form Ian Nicholson (62no) to rescue the Moorenders, who were in bother at 81-5.

Sam Wilson then led the way with the ball with 4-52 as Bierley were all out for 195, despite Fahid Rehman’s 53.

Priestley Cup winners Woodlands rounded off their campaign with an 11-run success at Lightcliffe.

Captain Tim Jackson led the way with 55 as Woodlands made 190-8 before his counterpart Alex Stead led the Lightcliffe reply.

Stead made a superb 94, but his efforts couldn’t save his side as spinner Chris Brice (4-34) and Kez Ahmed (4-44) saw Woodlands home.

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BATLEY and Yeadon will go head to head for the Championship A title and a top-flight place at the weekend.

As it stands, Batley are 11 points ahead of nearest challengers Yeadon, with both winning at the weekend, with the portents set fair for a cracking final day.

Batley vanquished Saltaire by 68 runs and Yeadon saw off Undercliffe by three wickets.

On Saturday, Batley host Undercliffe and Yeadon head to Baildon.

Last wekeend, Aqsad Ali proved the star man with the ball for Batley, taking an excellent 5-23 to help bowl out Saltaire for 123.

Earlier, Batley made 195-8, with the major contributor being Aqeel Mukhtar (60).

Yeadon’s young brigade of James Massheder, Max Mciver and Ryan Heptinstall helped them see off Undercliffe.

Spinner Massheder took the main plaudits with 6-38, backed up by Mciver (4-36) as Undercliffe were dismissed for just 126.

Replying, Yeadon rallied from 40-4, with Mciver hitting a key 60, well supported by Heptinstall (37no).

Australian Matthew Bremner hit an unbeaten century as champions Townville received the Championship B trophy in style with a convincing eight-wicket win over their old rivals Methley.

Bremner struck three sixes and 13 fours as he shared in an undefeated third-wicket stand of 141.

This enabled Townville to pass the Methley score of 201 with 14.1 overs to spare. Opener Jonathan Booth became the first player to make 1,000 runs this season during his knock of 17.

Second-placed Wrenthorpe went down to a surprise two-wicket defeat at Spen Victoria, who were indebted to the efforts of captain Oliver Davison (63) and George Deegan (55).

Nick Connolly

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