Bowls: Encouraging signs but Souths pipped again

South Leeds fell to their second defeat in as many games in the opening passage of this season's Yorkshire County Indoor League, as the side lost 14-4 to last year's play-off champions, York and District.

Though the club shared the spoils with rink wins at both venues, the telling aggregate wins at the respective sites ensured the York side stole the lion's share of the points. The result pushes the teams in opposite directions in the league.

The two positives came in the form of wins for the rinks skipped by captain Mark Hughes, and the ever-consistent rink under the guidance of Ian Howard.

Hughes continued his form of the season, picking off another scalp – this time in the form of a past county captain Phil Parsons.

The game finished with the South Leeds rink 24-14 clear after 21 ends, a score which proved to be the biggest lead the quartet held over their opponents.

Unfortunately, the other South Leeds rink was unable to capitalise on their team-mates' success and the opposing rink, skipped by ex-Yorkshire under-25 captain Paul Humphreys, claimed a three-shot advantage, winning 24-11.

The Blue and Yellows of South Leeds had held things tight to the midway point, yet were unable to reign their victors in over the closing stages.

At home it was a similar story with just the three shots separating the two sides. Sadly the advantage once again fell in favour of the York-based outfit.

The finale did at least give our local side some cause for encouragement as they enter a more competitive period of bowls in 2011.

Until the 18th end, the rink of Howard was behind on the board to David Stroughair and his front three. A strong finish saw the South Leeds foursome pull ahead, to close the game out as 22-21 winners.

On the next rink, as with the losing rink up at York, the home bowlers just lost out in the closing stages – to Paul Mooring and his side.

The rink skipped by John Franklyn, a recent acquisition from the now defunct Barnsley Metrodome side, should add an extra balance to the home rinks, and prove a good foil to the ever-consistent Howard.

The six-shot defeat unfortunately translates as a 10-point loss.

The club has a habit of succumbing to early season defeats, before pulling things round with a good January.

That could be a tall order this time given that next month's opposition are Thornaby and Featherstone. They are both clubs that South Leeds has enjoyed some success against in the past, but back-to-back fixtures where wins are a must is different to winning the odd game in isolation.

If they can scrape through those two games with 18 points – gained through a 12-6 win and same score reverse at worst – then the club will go into games against Hull and Redcar, the sides most likely to be near the bottom of the table come the end of the season, with some confidence.

Redcar could throw up the same sort of surprise as Scarborough by sailing through their first season in the top tier for some time.

However, given the number of years they have been fighting to get back to this stage, it is highly unlikely – even if they have drafted in a few new faces.

The other result in from last weekend saw Huddersfield go down to Featherstone 14-4.

Reports suggest that Huddersfield came out of the game without the result the early passages of play may have suggested they would.

That result keeps Featherstone up near the top of the table, with Huddersfield splitting the field in the middle of the pack.

The Yorkshire League action resumes again on January 15, by which time our Denny Cup challengers – Featherstone and York – should have played at least one, if not both, of their outstanding fixtures.

South Leeds's second string enjoyed the rare sensation of back-to-back triumphs in the Hebden Trophy, thanks to their latest 12-6 win over Scarborough.

The side registered the same scoreline against Hornsea late in November, and the victories will not only push them away from the foot of the table, but go someway to installing a bit of much-needed confidence.

All the damage was done at home where the ever developing Gary Foulkes and his rink secured a 38-16 win.

On the other rink, Peter Holleran and his quartet were not to be outdone in their pursuit of victory, racking up a double-point win over their opponents with a 25-15 margin.

FRUSTRATION: Leeds United's Pierre-Michel Lasogga after his close-range header was saved against Nottingham Forest. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

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