Aire-Wharfe League: Otley snatch top-tier title after a dramatic final fling

Horsforth CC, winners of the Aire Wharfe Division Two title.
Horsforth CC, winners of the Aire Wharfe Division Two title.
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OTLEY snatched the Division One title from Beckwithshaw in dramatic fashion on Saturday and captain James Davies hailed his side’s efforts in ensuring the rain-affected fixture went ahead.

Having gone into the weekend in second place, Jamie Pickering’s 109 from just 67 balls proved decisive as they leapfrogged Beckwithshaw into top spot courtesy of a hard-fought 55-run triumph away from home.

“It was a great performance,” said Davies. “We were worried when the rain came down but we brought all our mopping equipment with us and did our best to get the game on.

“Thankfully our efforts were worth it and we came away with the win. Even though it was reduced to 20 overs, we weren’t worried,” he added. “We back ourselves in any situation.

“We’ve got a dynamic bunch of players who can adapt their play and Jamie Pickering was outstanding. He’s had a strong end to the year and really relished opening the batting for us having started the year down the order.”

Saturday’s win secured a second successive title for Davies’ men and he called it a ‘special achievement.’

“We hadn’t made any changes after last year, but we knew the sides around us had strengthened, so there were going to be a few sides challenging us. It’s been a tough year but it feels great to have come out on top again. Going into Saturday, the pressure was off us; we had everything to gain and Beckwithshaw had everything to lose. It wasn’t an easy wicket to play on but thankfully we got through it and to retain our title is a special achievement for a special group of players.”

Elsewhere, Burley finished their summer on a high with a four-wicket win at Rawdon. Daniel Revis claimed four wickets before Ed Brown hit an unbeaten 70 to lead the fifth-placed side to their ninth win of the season.

It was a similar story for Collingham who, in their fixture, demolished Steeton by eight wickets.

Christopher Bridge and Toby Jacklin each took home five wickets as the visitors were left all out for just 86.

And their batting response was clinical, losing just the two wickets on their way to the victory.

Meanwhile, Robert Spivey led Ilkley to something of a shock at North Leeds as his side leapfrogged Steeton into ninth on the final table. North Leeds began the day in sixth but they could only run up 130 after choosing to bat and Ilkley quickly set about swallowing up their target as Spivey, who had already claimed three wickets, hit 30 in the four-wicket win.

Pool followed Horsforth into Division One courtesy of a three-wicket win over Skipton.

After Horsforth secured top spot last week, Pool, Colton and Skipton were left to fight for the last remaining promotion place and it was Poole who came away from their trip to Skipton with the spoils.

Pool won the toss and opted to field first which proved to be an inspired decision as Sam Wilkinson skittled five wickets to clear out their hosts for just 94, despite Steve Carling’s defiant 52.

But they were made to work for their win as three home bowlers took a pair of wickets each, John Goldthorp top-scored with 27 in a laboured but ultimately successful run chase.

Colton did all they could to take a top two place, but their comfortable 57-run win over already relegated Green Lane wasn’t enough.

In the second tier’s other fixture, Tong Park Esholt’s relegation to Division Three was confirmed after they fell to a three-wicket reverse at Knaresborough.

After winning the toss, Tong chose to bat, but they reached just 65 all out with Daniel Ball leading the way on 17.

Knaresborough, who moved up to eighth with the win, wasted little time in racking up a winning run chase as David Girling hit 45 not out.

The year ended early for Ben Rhydding and Harden as their fixture was called off, while Horsforth’s proposed clash with Illingworth fell to the weather and the mid-table battle between Adel and Thackley saw no play.

However, it was a full weekend of fixtures in a crucial final round for Division Three.

Addingham secured promotion to Division Two on Saturday after beating Horsforth Hall Park by six runs. After Rob Ellis claimed five wickets to help limit Horsforth to 130, opening batsman Will Atkins thrashed his way to an impressive 76 without losing his wicket to seal the title and a place in the second tier.

Elsewhere in the league, Olicanian drew with New Rover, while there were away wins for Menston at Alwoodley, Calverley at Bardsey and Bolton Villas at Old Modernians.