Local cricket: Plot twists forecast as rivals close in on title

Tom Hudson  bowling for Pudsey St Lawrence.
Tom Hudson bowling for Pudsey St Lawrence.
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PUDSEY ST Lawrence secretary Richard Brown insists the Bradford League title race remains wide open with eight games remaining.

Indeed, the secretary insists that even tomorrow’s fifth-placed visitors Bradford & Bingley could yet be celebrating the Division One crown in September.

Saints approach tomorrow’s clash on the crest of wave after a brilliant league and cup double header last weekend.

Saturday’s win against Yeadon re-ignited the side’s title bid before a Priestley Cup final date with Cleckheaton was booked the following day with a semi-final victory against East Bierley.

And while Cleckheaton remain very much in pole position to take top league honours, Brown can envisage many more twists and turns before the end of September.

Saints approach this weekend sitting 26 points behind leaders Cleckheaton who are 24 points clear of third-placed Woodlands.

But the Saints secretary says that such is the strength of the Bradford League – even tomorrow’s fifth-placed visitors Bradford & Bingley cannot be discounted despite sitting 50 points off top.

“Nobody is out of the title race yet,” warned Brown.

“If you get a couple of 20-point wins and somebody else gets a couple or three points then it all changes again. It’s never over until the fat lady sings.

“The win we had last weekend was tremendous for us and with Cleckheaton and Woodlands losing it really helped us to catch a few points up on the teams at the top of the table.

“We are on their heels, we are not going to give up and we are going to keep fighting until the very end.

“But Cleckheaton are a very, very good team.

“They did it last year and by the looks of it they could very well do it again this year as they have come strong again.

“They are a very good team which is why they are in the final of the Priestley Cup against us as well. That will be a very tasty final as we think the same of Cleckheaton as what they think of us.”

The title run-in should be similarly tasty with leaders Cleckheaton travelling to sixth-placed Hanging Heaton tomorrow.

Woodlands welcome third-bottom Morley while fifth-placed Farsley travel to second-bottom East Bierley.

Seventh-placed New Farnley welcome ninth-placed Pudsey Congs while eighth-placed Lightcliffe visit bottom club Yeadon.

Plenty of eyes will be on Brown’s men at home to the fifth-placed Bees and the Saints secretary is predicting a difficult encounter.

“Bradford and Bingley have had some big scores this year,” warned Brown.

“That will be a tough match and they have got some very good players but we’ll be up for it again. Confidence at the club is good though we’re not taking anything for granted, not by any stretch of the imagination.”

In Division Two, leaders Undercliffe welcome mid-table Idle.

Keighley and Saltaire, who face Hartshead Moor and Baildon respectively, will seek to gain ground on the leaders with wins at their home grounds.

Over in the Aire-Wharfe League, current leaders Otley travel to Kirkstall while second-placed Burley welcome seventh-placed Collingham. Bilton face Guiseley while Ben Rhydding who sit at the foot of the table entertain Steeton.

Rawdon will be hoping for a win at home to Ilkley while Pool go to Beckwithshaw. In Division Two, top of the table Follifoot travel to relegation battlers Upper Wharfedale. Second-placed North Leeds, meanwhile, entertain mid-table Skipton.

In the Yorkshire ECB Premier League, leaders Yorkshire Academy host relegation battlers Sheffield Collegiate. York entertain Rotherham Town while Harrogate travel to Driffield Town. Castleford are at home to Appleby Frodingham in a mid-table contest.

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