Saints’ a-game will be tested to the full

James Smith

James Smith

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PUDSEY ST LAWRENCE cricket chairman Paul Hutchison has warned his side that they must bring their A-game to the table or suffer the consequences against Woodlands this weekend.

All roads lead to Albert Terrace for Saints, who visit the Bradford League leaders tomorrow before a return journey the following day in a Priestley Cup quarter-final.

Victory for either side would not just strengthen their claims to silverware on two fronts, but potentially serve as a physchological marker as the season approaches it’s halfway point.

But Hutchison’s sole focus is on Saints playing to their absolute maximum, a note they have not quite yet hit this season for several reasons.

He said: “We are lacking a bit of rhythm because of the disrupted games and that it not good. Maybe losing to (Pudsey) Congs in the Twenty20 might be a kick up the backside that we needed.

“The good and bad thing is we are not playing to our potential yet. That is frustrating, but on the flip side we have been getting away with positive results.

“But we know there’s at least 15 to 20 per cent left in the tank.

“If we go into these games at 85 per cent, as we have been going into games, we will get turned over – no two ways about it as they are a very good team.

“We will have to be on our A-game on both days.

“I think it’s the biggest weekend of the season, so far.

“Playing Woodlands away is never easy. But playing them away twice will be a big barometer of where we are at.”

Woodlands currently hold a 14-point buffer over third-placed Saints, league runners-up last year, but James Smith’s side came up trumps in their last meeting towards the end of last term in a 44-run success, in which he and Chris Marsden led the way.

Missing from the Woodlands side that day was key all-rounder Chris Brice and Hutchison feels Pieter Swanepoel’s side will represent a much tougher proposition to the line-up Saints faced last August.

Hutchison added: “When we played them late last year, we turned them over reasonably easily. But I think that was because they were not that interested; I think Saffy (Safraz Ahmed) and Swanny were a bit tired having to bowl Bricey’s overs as well.

“We got them on an easier day than normal, I think.

“Woodlands and Cleckheaton are definitely the teams to be fighting with. Both look very, very strong.

“Obviously, Bricey is fit and he adds balance to their team. He can bat and move up or do a decent job lower down and also control an innings on a fielding side and tie up one end – while also being an attacking threat.

“The two strike bowlers and seamer they have won’t be as tired as when we played them last year. When you have a three-pronged attack backed up by the likes of (Grant) Soames, it’s a well-balanced team.”

Elsewhere tomorrow in the Bradford League, another big game sees champions Cleckheaton host Farsley, while Pudsey Congs will be desperately seeking to break their duck at home to Bradford and Bingley.

Morley welcome Yeadon and New Farnley entertain Lightcliffe, while Hanging Heaton host East Bierley.

In the top-flight of the Aire-Wharfe League, struggling Beckwithshaw face an arduous assignment with Otley, twenty points clear at the top.

Second-placed Kirkstall welcome Burley, with rock-bottom Collingham visiting third-placed Steeton. Rawdon and Pool welcome Ben Rhydding and Guiseley, with Bilton visiting Ilkley.

Scholes will put their unbeaten Central Yorkshire League record on the line at home to Altofts, while second faces third with Methley hosting Ossett.

A key clash at the bottom sees Wrenthorpe host Hunslet Nelson.

Harrogate play host to Sheffield United in the ECB Yorkshire League, while Castleford and York entertain Barnsley and Cleethorpes. Yorkshire Academy visit Scarborough.