CHAMPIONS Pudsey St Lawrence may not be firing on all cylinders in their defence of the Bradford League thus far, but captain James Smith could not be happier.
In the early weeks of the season, when battle lines are being drawn for the long campaign ahead, developing a winning mentality is the first requirement and that is something that St Lawrence have already shown in hard-fought victories over Lightcliffe and Bradford and Bingley.
The most recent arrived at Wakefield Road on Saturday, with hosts Lightcliffe well-placed in their run chase before being dismissed 22 runs short at 212.
Earlier, St Lawrence showcased the strength in depth in their battling line-up to open with 234-7, contributions arriving from Chris Marsden (66), Tom Hudson (42) and Smith (38).
Marsden backed up with 3-53 – taking the key wickets of Kasir Maroof (56) and Adam Wainwright (45) – with Charlie Parker (4-32) also making a key contribution to see the Tofts Road outfit home.
And despite his side not being at their best, Smith has spied some good signs.
He said: “It was a bit harum-scarum. But we never gave up.
“I am very pleased as we have just looked a little bit short in certainly the bowling department, which has looked a little bit off the pace.
“So just to get a couple of wins against two decent sides is good. There is no harm in getting off to a flier like that and both those sides we have played will beat other teams, I am sure as the season goes on.
“You cannot ask for much else. Sometimes, in early season, you have just got to win and it does not really matter how you actually win the game. You just have to get over the line and then people get into their rhythm, bowling wise and their eye in batting and things start coming together as a team.
“The lads have battled quite hard for the first two weeks and pulled back from some pretty daunting situations in defending totals.”
Hanging Heaton, strongly fancied to be battling it out with St Lawrence for the title, are also ‘two-from-two’ as are Farsley, with last season’s top three all boasting 100 per cent records.
The Tewits saw off B&B by six wickets, despite suffering an early scare in reply, with Gary Fellows and Richard Foster removed in the first over.
But strong contributions from Nick Connolly (56no) and Callum Geldart (51) helped see Heaton over the line.
Earlier, B&B were dismissed for 116, with David Stiff (4-33) and Tom Chippendale (3-17) impressing.
Farsley skittled Pudsey Congs for a derisory 88 en route to a comfortable six-wicket victory, with their near-neighbours failing to reach three figures for the second successive game.
Chris Henry (4-3) and Mustafa Rafique (3-28) made hay for the Red Laners.
It has also been a low-key start to the season for Cleckheaton, who lost out by 147 runs to give Woodlands their second straight success.
The Albert Terrace outfit made a confident 268-8, with former Cleckheaton opener Tim Jackson top-scoring with 48, well-supported by Liam Collins (48) and Elliot Richardson, who hit a key unbeaten 48 late on.
Replying, Cleckheaton were blown away for 121, with influential duo Chris Brice (3-19) and Mark Lawson (3-36) in the wickets.
Townville triumphed in their encounter with fellow new boys Batley to claim their first win at this level.
Kris Ward (74), Jack Hughes (42) and Connor Harvey (41) led their battling parade in a knock of 261-8, Tariq Hussain taking 5-71 for Batley.
In response, Batley were well short at 164, with spinner Hughes being Townville’s best with the ball, taking 4-21.
New Farnley (106) slumped to a shock three-wicket loss at home to East Bierley, with leg spinner Amar Rashid, brother of Yorkshire star Adil, taking an outstanding 5-5.