The last Premier Division weekend sees a double header of games which will decide the destiny of four clubs battling to stay up for the 2020 season.
The Premier League title was decided last week when Woodlands beat Undercliffe to complete the Premier Division championship and Priestley Cup double.
This was a triumph for Cieran Garner in his first season as captain as his side claimed their seventh league title.
Woodlands have a home match against Cleckheaton, followed by a visit the next day to Farsley. The title might be won, but they must keep in shape for the Yorkshire Premier Leagues Play-Offs the following week, when they play Doncaster Town at Albert Terrace.
It will be interesting to see if Chris Brice can maintain his position at the top of the bowling averages with Jack Hughes of Townville in close pursuit.
Bradford & Bingley have had a terrific season, and they will be determined to recapture their second place when they play at Townville on Saturday. They then have to play Wrenthorpe at Wagon Lane in what could be a `life or death’ situation for the Wakefield side.
Townville were the only side who could catch Woodlands before last week’s programme, and they have sneaked up almost unnoticed into second place.
After a sluggish start to the season, Townville have been a model of consistency, and whatever happens now, will surely end in up their highest ever position.
It should be a cracking home match against Bradford & Bingley this weekend, where the winner will probably take the runners-up position.
Townville’s pace bowler Conor Harvey is delighted how his side has pulled together this seaso. He said: “It’s been a tough season really, and to be honest, we’ve not had the same team all year, and injuries have played a massive part. But, we’ve consistently performed, and all pulled together at vital times. We’ve got over the line in games we shouldn’t have, but we’ve played some very good cricket too.
“Jonny Booth has been class with the bat, and he’s been backed up by a lot of the lads in spells this year and in particular Harry Warwick, who was largely responsible for seeing us over the line on Saturday at St Lawrence. It’s been a real team effort this year.
“As a team we’ve played consistently, but as individuals we haven’t. So to all `chip in’ like we have been is in some ways even better. It does help having eight local Townville lads in the team; we know how to play together and it’s been good.
“It’s great to see youngsters coming through too at the club and Ben Raynor has had a great first year with us in the first team. He’s bowling consistently and taken big wickets at ideal times, and I for one am happy for him.”
Harvey concludes: “It’s a great team spirit we have here and we never know when we are beaten. Everyone contributes, so it’s never over at Townville and this year we’ve proven that. But it isn’t over yet and we haven’t secured second spot which is now our aim this year.
“We’ve lacked experience this year and to get to a Heavy Woollen Final and finish second would be a great achievement for us as a club. But we have two big games to go and it’s all to play for.“
The second game that Harvey refers to is their last match at Undercliffe who could be fighting to stay up.
After the events of last week, it is now becoming a little clearer who will go down, and Lightcliffe are hanging on to survival by a thread.
In their big relegation clash last week, Lightcliffe could score no more than 112 in their defeat by Wrenthorpe. This leaves them having to win their last two games this weekend- at home to Methley and away at Pudsey St Lawrence, to have any chance at all.
Wrenthorpe was largely indebted to Khalil Khan, who after taking 3-8 with the ball, rescued his side from 7-3 with a superb inning of 70.
This result puts Wrenthorpe on 163 points, 24 ahead of Lightcliffe and within striking distance of Methley and Undercliffe on 169 and 170 respectively.
However, Wrenthorpe have two tough matches to end their season with Pudsey St Lawrence at home and Bradford & Bingley away.
Wrenthorpe captain Jordan Sleightholme was pleased with the mettle his side showed against Lightcliffe last week
““We had a few tough results following our momentous win against eventual league winners Woodlands, but we showed our mettle last week in a ‘do or die’ match against Lightcliffe and we’ll be hoping to take this performance into the last two games this weekend against Pudsey St Lawrence and Bradford & Bingley.
“It’s no secret that our overseas player, Khalil Khan, is critical to our team, as was evident at the weekend, but we have a number of match winners throughout our team. It will be imperative that some of these key players stand up on the final weekend to prove we belong in this division and secure our status as a Premier League club.”
Sleightholme concludes: “I know the players have loved the first year in the Premier Division, as have all the people behind the scenes at Wrenthorpe who make it all possible, and so we’ll be doing our utmost to repay at least some of their efforts throughout the course of the year.”
Methley, who have had a remarkable comeback in recent weeks, could not have played Farsley at a better time. Last week they beat a Farsley side weakened by the absence of overseas player Pat Kruger and their two Yorkshire players Josh Poysden and James Logan.
In contrast, Methley were boosted by the presence of their Yorkshire duo of Matthew Waite and Jared Warner, and they both made significant contributions in their five wicket defeat of Farsley.
They could enhance their survival bid further by beating a Lightcliffe side devoid of confidence, before ending their campaign with a tougher match against the unpredictable New Farnley.
Undercliffe’s five bonus points in the defeat by champions Woodlands could well prove to be vital in their quest to avoid relegation. Opener Simon Lambert showed what a class batsman he is in scoring 55, and could yet make the difference for his side.
The Intake Road club could well find it difficult at Hanging Heaton and at home to second place Townville on Sunday, but will probably have to win one of those to be sure. Alternatively, they will need a sizeable amount of bonus points if they are going to pip their rivals.
Hanging Heaton, who have looked decidedly off colour this season compared to the standards of the previous two seasons, can finish on a high with matches against Undercliffe (h) and Cleckheaton (a).
Pudsey St Lawrence can be proud of their lofty position considering an injury to Chris Marsden, the unavailability of Jordan Thompson, and their ongoing long-term developments of their young starlets.
They could have an enormous effect on the relegation dogfight when they end the season with games against Wrenthorpe (a) and Lightcliffe (h). They won’t be going soft on these sides with the runners-up place still up for grabs.
Farsley again didn’t produce their true potential because of the ongoing issues of player availabilities. They had bad luck with the two Yorkshire players Josh Poysden and James Logan who endured injuries, and also suffered the early return of their very effective overseas player Pat Kruger.
The team from Red Lane end their campaign with two difficult looking matches in New Farnley (a) and Woodlands (h).
The league is so tightly packed this season that the outcome of these matches could see Farsley in a high position, or alternatively in the last third.
Another team that didn’t fulfil their true potential were New Farnley who have not been able to get their talented batters firing.
However, wins against Farsley and Methley could push them into the top four depending on other results.
Saturday Premier League fixtures: Lightcliffe v Methley, Wrenthorpe v Pudsey St Lawrence, Townville v Bradford & Bingley, Hanging Heaton v Undercliffe, Woodlands v Cleckheaton, New Farnley v Farsley.
Sunday Premier Division fixtures: Methley v New Farnley, Farsley v Woodlands, Cleckheaton v Hanging Heaton, Undercliffe v Townville, Bradford & Bingley v Wrenthorpe, Pudsey St Lawrence v Lightcliffe.
Leaders Batley lost again and in doing so their title chances have been blown wide open.
Bankfoot restricted Batley to 144-9 and knocked them off after a mini mid-table collapse. Batsmen Arsaam Malik (47), Hamzah Iqbal (33) and Hisan Ahmad (33) were the main men in the run chase.
Batley’s Kasir Maroof (47no) was the only batsman to make an impression against a Bankfoot bowling side led by skipper James Lee (3-43).
Second-placed Morley gained points on Batley after a 91-run victory over Scholes. Opener James McNichol made a fine 102, while the best bowlers were Henry Rush (3-11) and Oliver Halliday (3-8).
It is now ostensibly a three-horse race for promotion with Batley leading the way with 232 points, followed by Morley on 225 and Bankfoot on 220.
Batley go to Keighley, who on their day could prove to be difficult opponents, while Morley have a home match against Pudsey Congs who have slipped to eighth in the league.
Bankfoot play an East Bierley side that are now fighting for their life in the relegation area.
Scholes are doomed in bottom place, but one of Wakefield St Michael’s (160 pts), East Bierley (170 pts) and Hartshead Moor (176 pts) could go down.
Wakefield St Michael’s gave themselves a lifeline in beating East Bierley by seven wickets, and in doing so closed the gap to reasonable proportions.
After bowling out East Bierley for 137 with Zaeem Zulfqar taking 4-22 and Ollie Lightfoot (3-54), St Michael’s made a good start to their reply with Zulfgar (43) and Ayaz Seedat (59) putting on 99 for the first wicket.
Hartshead Moor, whose previous form seemed to have taken them out of danger, crumbled for the second game in a row with the bat as they were dismissed for just 64 in their eight-wicket defeat by Ossett.
This means that their home match with Wakefield St Michael’s this weekend is critical, and neither side dare lose.
Baildon’s Australian Blair Oakley continues to dominate games, but his team has probably too much to do now to get promotion.
Next up for Baildon is Gomersal who have gradually eased away from the relegation zone. This is largely thanks to the effectiveness of left arm spinner Chris Rhodes who is leading the league’s bowling averages.
Ossett have risen to a high ranking in the league and should at least consolidate their position after their home game with relegated Scholes.
Championship One Fixtures: Hartshead Moor v Wakefield St Michael's, Ossett v Scholes, Morley v Pudsey Congs, Gomersal v Baildon, Keighley v Batley, Bankfoot v East Bierley.
Carlton and Birstall secured their promotion to Championship One with comfortable victories.
The scenario now is that with two games to go, Carlton need 16 points to be assured of going up as champions. They have 303 points as opposed to Birstall’s 279, and even if the teams finished level on points they would finish top by virtue of having secured more wins – currently 15-12 in their favour.
Carlton’s overseas player Kershaski John Lewis was in the runs again with 86 not out for Carlton to take his aggregate to 908 runs at a staggering average of 129.71. This helped his side to a winning 235-8 score against Jer Lane.
Birstall had no trouble in defeating Altofts and their best individual performances in the match came from Ryan Gray who took 5-48, and talented all-rounder Josh Haynes who scored 74.
This week Birstall have a home match with fourth place Spen Victoria, while Carlton play relegation haunted Liversedge who must win to give themselves any chance of survival.
In fact, the interest in this division now is all about which three teams will be relegated. The bottom five are Adwalton (136 pts), Liversedge (138 pts), Hopton Mills (166 pts), Northowram Fields (167 pts) and Altofts (174 pts).
Bowling Old Lane are now eight points better off than Altofts after their shock defeat of Jack Hampshire Cup winners Yeadon. They could be completely clear of danger if they had to beat Hopton Mills this weekend,
However, the likes of Michael Carroll and Ashley Mackereth will battle all the way, and given more tangible support could well get out of danger.
Northowram Fields, who are precariously one point clear of the drop zone have a hard home match against Yeadon, but will take heart from Old Lane’s win against them.
Adwalton are showing lots of fight and still have an outside chance of beating the drop if they win their remaining matches.
Again, their two young stars excelled as they beat rivals Liversedge by four-wickets. Vinit Patel set up their win by taking 5-40, while opening batsman Josh Bennett made an unbeaten 72.
This weekend they are at home to a Hunslet Nelson side who are finding more consistency of late. Hunslet’s talisman skipper Will Stiff was in fine form last week hitting a fine 82 last week against Hopton Mills and he will always find a way with the ball to take wickets.
Altofts are another side sitting too close for comfort above the bottom three, and they must beat eighth place East Ardsley to ward off their rivals.
Jer Lane made a spirited reply of 235-8 against champions Carlton last week with Imran Mirza (77), Raqeeb Younis (49) and David Syme (36no) all in the runs.
They could be in for another run-fest at Buttershaw St Paul’s this weekend, against a side just one point behind them in the league.
Although they lost last week against Spen Victoria, they had Kevin McDermott in form scoring 87.
Spen Victoria’s Abid Awain returned stunning figures of 8-48 to secure the 26-run win over Buttershaw St Paul’s, and maintain their lofty position.
Championship Two Fixtures: East Ardsley v Altofts, Birstall v Spen Victoria, Bowling Old Lane v Hopton Mills, Adwalton v Hunslet Nelson, Buttershaw St Paul’s v Jer Lane, Liversedge v Carlton, Northowram Fields v Yeadon.
Sandal won the Conference title and the only promotion place after defeating second-placed Great Preston by 14 runs. The win took Sandal to 286 points and puts them 43 ahead of Great Preston who have two games to play to the champions’ one.
Good batting from Karl Hewitt (77) and skipper Kristian Shuttleworth (57) helped Sandal to a score of 210-8, but it was the bowling of Ryan Bishop-Perrett that proved to be the decisive factor in their success.
He took 5-56 and was backed up by Sam Noden (3-64) as Great Preston was bowled out for 196. Ollie Baron (55) and Ben Broxup (42) tried their hardest to propel Great Preston to victory, but the Sandal bowlers had the final say.
These two teams have dominated the Conference this season and appear to be a class apart from the rest. It is a pity that the reorganisation of the league structure has denied Great Preston a place in Championship Two, but they can come again with confidence in 2020.
Great Preston’s Australian Tyson Freeman has been a great asset so far scoring 701 league runs at 87.63 to currently top the batting averages. He has also taken an invaluable 30 wickets.
If the saying ‘bowlers win matches’ is true, it must be so in Sandal’s case who have three bowlers in Ryan Bishop-Perrett, Lee Geldard and Sam Noden who share 125 league wickets, and are all in the top six of the league averages.
Sandal are a well organised cricket club with a good infrastructure and a ground that befits Championship 2.
This week Sandal is away to East Leeds who lost to Windhill & Daisy Hill last week, while Great Preston face Rodley who were defeated by Brighouse.
The best of the rest after Sandal and Great Preston are Gildersome & Farnley Hill and Oulton who are only separated by one-point.
Gildersome have been hampered by a disproportionate amount of `rain-off’s this season, but could challenge next year given better luck. They should beat bottom club Heckmondwike & Carlinghow to keep above Oulton.
Oulton have the slightly harder fixture when they meet Windhill & Daisy Hill who have improved this year.
Brighouse have suffered from a lack of penetration in the bowling this season, but last week Mohammed Altaf (4-15) and Ritesh Tandelkar (3-29) helped to bowl out Rodley for 103 to complete an 80-run win.
This weekend they are at Crossbank Methodists who are just one point above bottom place Heckmondwike & Carlinghow.
Conference Fixtures: Crossbank Methodists v Brighouse, East Leeds v Sandal, Gildersome & Farnley Hill v Heckmondwike & Carlinghow, Great Preston v Rodley, Oulton v Windhill & Daisy Hill.