A DERBY set-back may be one thing, but Ralph Middlebrook is sure about another matter.
Namely that Pudsey Congs are in a far better place at the end of May than 12 months ago, when they couldn’t buy a win.
At this point last year, Congs were winless in Division One, with their first victory arriving as late as June 14.
But it is a different scenario this time around, with the Britannia Ground outfit having pocketed four wins from seven matches and residing in a nicely-positioned fourth spot.
Yet it was St Lawrence who took the derby bragging rights this season on Bank Holiday Monday, winning by 112 runs in comfortable fashion.
Teenager Joshua Wilson took 4-19 in his maiden Pudsey derby, supported by spinner Tom Hudson (3-19) as Congs were out for 104 in reply to Saints’ 216-5 – Chris Marsden (76no) and Mark Robertshaw (70) impressing.
Congs spokesperson Middlebrook said: “We were very average on Monday and didn’t seem to grasp the nettle.
“A score of 215 wasn’t a huge one to chase, but Robertshaw batted extremely well and was the difference between the two sides. He got in and stopped in.
“But we battle on and we’re pleased with the start to the season. We’re through in the Heavy Woollen Cup and Priestley Cup and Monday was the first match we have lost this year.
“It is still wide open for anyone this year as the rain has knocked things around a bit.”
The win against Congs – who are hoping that Jonny Bairstow can play a game or two for them this season – maintained Saints’ express start to the season, with James Smith’s side 24 points clear at the top.
On Saturday, Saints (276-7) took the derby spoils against Farsley (132), with Adam Waite (70), Matt Duce (50no) and Marsden (5-38) on song.
Woodlands (172) are in second after getting back on track after Saturday’s loss at Cleckheaton with an 127-run win over beleaguered Farsley, dismissed for a derisory 45.
Safraz Ahmed (75) took the game away from Farsley, who reduced Woodlands to 53-8 with skipper Pieter Swanepoel then taking over with a stunning 7-16 with the ball.
Champions Cleck (171) suffered a reality check at East Bierley (232) on Monday, while it was a productive weekend for New Farnley, who beat Bradford and Bingley and Undercliffe.
The win over Undercliffe on Monday arrived courtesy of fine contributions from Lee Goddard (66) and Mark Lawson (5-51) with the visitors dismissed for 115 after Farnley opened with 226-8.
After Saturday’s win over Lightcliffe, Hanging Heaton (232-8) lost by three wickets against Bradford and Bingley (233-7), despite Ben Elvidge’s well-crafted 76.
IT WAS the most profitable of Bank Holiday weekends for Morley, who signalled their intentions to return to the top-flight with two victories.
The upshot is that Matt Baxter’s side are 22 points clear at the Division Two summit, with their latest win coming against Yeadon on Monday.
The Scatcherd Lane outfit were handed a scare along the way, with Yeadon just falling short at 191-7 in reply to the hosts’ 203.
Batting first, Morley were indebted to a third-wicket stand worth 111 between Baxter (73) and George Robson (43), while Richard Jubb hit an invaluable 35 not out at the death, with Michael Hunter taking 5-44 for Yeadon.
James Todd top-scored with a fine 78 in the chase, supported by Oliver Stephenson (41), but teenage spinner Jak Murphy’s 4-51 applied the brakes.
On Saturday, Morley (112-3) were far too strong for Scholes (109) with Ben Jenkinson (4-18) and Nathan Bromby (4-26) wreaking havoc.
Scholes (151-2) got back on track on Monday with a comfortable derby victory over Hartshead Moor (148), who slumped to their second dispiriting weekend defeat.
In the runs for the victors were Atif Zaidi (60no) and Kasir Maroof (64), who put on 132 for the second wicket to see the New Popplewell Lane men home.
Farad Ul-Haq (61) proved the only crumb for Moor.
Gomersal had a mixed weekend after following up a derby success over Spen Victoria with a hefty nine-wicket loss on Monday at Baildon, who leapfrogged them into third spot.
Earlier, an excellent ton from Graham Hilton (103no) had helped Gomersal (232-3) see off Spen (227-7) by seven wickets, with Hilton putting on 155 for the third wicket with Jonathan Boynton (84).
Spen fared better on Monday with an eight-wicket win over Idle (107) to go fifth.
Contributions arrived from Sofian Khan (41no), Mahboob Hussain (3-17) and Alex Leadbeater (4-34).
Oliver Halliday (5-28) and Jake Wray (64) helped Yeadon (169-8) sink Baildon (159) on Saturday.