Aire-Wharfe League: Top two are ready for their winner-takes-all decider

Paul Malone.
Paul Malone.
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Beckwithshaw captain Stuart Hudson admits it is “all or nothing” as Aire-Wharfe Division One’s top two go head-to-head for a shot at the title.

With just six points separating themselves and second-placed Otley as the final weekend approaches, the victors on Saturday will clinch the title, but Hudson insists his side are ready for the task ahead, viewing last weekend’s hard-fought win over Kirkstall as good preparation for this weekend’s crunch clash.

“It was a nervy one,” he said of the six-run win. “Kirkstall are an unpredictable side and never know when they’re beaten. It was tight but it was a good mental test and it felt good to come away with a win. If you have a run of comfortable games, your mental strength can waver, so that kind of game was ideal for us and will stand us in good stead ahead of Saturday.”

Otley ran out five-wicket winners in the corresponding fixture, and Hudson concedes it was “a good beating”, but he remains confident of lifting the title on home turf.

“Over the years, we’ve got a good record against them,” he said. “They’re a good side but we know we can match them. This weekend is a winner takes all situation – it’s all or nothing –but we know we can win it.

“It will certainly have a Grand Final feel about it,” he added. “Hopefully we can bring in a good crowd and produce a good advert for the league.”

Elsewhere in the top tier, Ilkley secured their top flight status with a shock victory over Burley. Though the hosts managed to reach 170, Ilkley struck back in style as opener Jonathan Hughes hit an unbeaten 89 from 100 balls, batting through the entire innings to help his side celebrate survival.

Guiseley proved to be the unfortunate party as their relegation to Division Two was confirmed following a three-wicket home defeat to North Leeds.

Stewart Smith and skipper Alex Bell put on a partnership of 65, but Guiseley’s form collapsed thereafter as Larry Audain’s 5-37 ensured they could only post 148 which the visitors battled past.

At the other end of the table, Bilton kept their hopes of a top-three finish alive after hammering Steeton by eight wickets. Steeton lost the toss and batted first before running up a competitive 184-run target with Andrew Foulds top-scoring on 38.

But Bilton romped home in as Michael Donnelly hit an unbeaten 92.

Elsewhere, Collingham won a thriller by a single wicket at Rawdon. The home side ran up 237 runs, Kuda Samunderu hitting 60. In response, James Harrison hit 97 as his side reached their target with one wicket and one ball to spare.