WHISPER it gently, but Farsley might just be turning a bit of a corner after a rough old first half of the campaign.
Thus far, 2015 has not been one to write home about for the Red Laners, with the early return home of overseas Jake Fawcett for disciplinary reasons and the absence of several players through injury setting the tone for a wretched first few months of the campaign.
The upshot has been that Farsley have resided in the relegation positions for most of the season so far and to say that they needed Saturday’s win over New Farnley was the understatement of the year.
Skipper Mark Harrison was the hero, taking 6-31 as New Farnley capitulated after opener Scott Richardson was dismissed for 71 to fall to 132, replying to Farsley’s modest 168.
Given fellow strugglers’ Undercliffe’s surprise victory over third-placed Hanging Heaton, the win was somewhat timely, although Farsley remain in the second relegation position at the season’s halfway mark.
Chairman David Storr said: “I don’t want to speak too prematurely. But hopefully, we might have turned a bit of a corner.
“We also have Tom Craddock back on Saturday against Lightcliffe. They are only a few points in front of us in the table and we’d obviously like a win there.
“Matthew Green, who has been off for the past three weeks, is due to come back in the game against Undercliffe at home (on July 4), which will be a further fillip for us.
“So it is looking a bit more positive.”
On Harrison’s key weekend input after returning to the fray from injury, he added: “Mark has been very unlucky. We thought he was going to be right at the start of the season after damaging his cruciates playing football in November.
“Unfortunately, these things take longer than predicted sometimes and when you are playing on damp wickets, you are very sceptical as to whether you can go through your bowling actions.
“Saturday was the first time he came on and bowled properly. We want him to get back batting as well.”
At the top, it is starting to look a two-horse race for the Division One title, with leaders Pudsey St Lawrence delivering a hammer blow to champions Cleckheaton’s hopes of a hat-trick of successes. Fine strokeplay from Mark Robertshaw (115) and Adam Waite (90), who put on 197, provided the fulcrum of Lawrence’s card of 269-3, Chris Marsden (50no) also chipping in.
Despite an impressive unbeaten 94 from run machine Tim Jackson, Cleckheaton were all out for 208, with the Moorenders 57 points behind Lawrence.
A MIXED few days is the polite way of describing Pudsey Congs’ weekend.
The Britannia Ground kicked off with a lamentable four-wicket loss at East Bierley after being skittled for just 88, only to hit back the following day with a comfortable win over second division Bankfoot to book their place in the last four of the Priestley Cup.
Bierley’s Matthew Lumb took a magic 8-39 to rout Congs on Saturday and despite a wobble or two in reply, Bierley reached 89-6.
On Sunday, Callum Geldart was the pick for Congs (295-8), who beat Bankfoot by 102 runs in their rain-delayed quarter-final tie – Andrew Bairstow chipping in with 54
Congs visit Lightcliffe in the last four on July 12 and New Farnley host Bradford and Bingley in the other tie.
Back in the top-flight on Saturday, Duncan Snell hit a majestic 144 for his maiden league ton as second-placed Woodlands (268-5) kept the pressure on leaders Pudsey St Lawrence with a 97-run win over Lightcliffe (171).
Skipper Pieter Swanepoel took 4-43 for Woodlands, who trail Lawrence by 25 points.
Lowly Undercliffe (228-6) provided a surprise by chasing down Hanging Heaton’s opening knock of 225-7 to triumph.
David Stiff’s unbeaten 66 added ballast to the Tewits’ innings, but Undercliffe prevailed with nine balls to spare.
In the second tier, frontrunners Morley (161-4) recorded a six-wicket success over another promotion aspirant in Baildon (160) to claim an important win.
Key contributions arrived from David Nebard (4-47) – for the second week running – and Nathan Bromby (3-28) with Kashif Naveed (45) top-scoring for the winners.
Kasir Maroof smashed 116 as second-placed Scholes (266-5) eased past Brighouse, prolific spinner Danny Cross taking 5-55.
Iftikhar Ahmed (6-41) and Jake Wray (72) helped Yeadon (183-3) see off Bankfoot (182), while Gomersal (288-6) are up to third after being Windhill (168).
Opener Graham Hilton hit a fine 122 for the winners.