The First Division championship race is set for a dramatic finale on Saturday with four teams in with a chance of winning the title.
Reigning champions Woodlands, who were 45 points clear at the start of August, have seen their lead cut to four points after their third successive defeat and now only 11 points separate the top four sides.
After losing only twice in their previous 19 matches, Woodlands lost both games in a double weekend – by five wickets against East Bierley and by 93 runs away to relegation threatened Farsley.
Farsley’s win kept alive their own hopes of avoiding relegation. Opener Neil Laidlaw scored 86 and skipper Ian Philliskirk 74 as Farsley gained maximum batting points with 242-9, Woodlands captain Pieter Swanepoel taking 5-61. Woodlands were then dismissed for 149.
While Woodlands were losing, championship rivals Cleckheaton, LIghtcliffe and Bierley all piled on the pressure by winning their matches.
Cleckheaton beat third from the bottom Hanging Heaton by 129 runs, batting them out of the match after scoring 255-9 with skipper John Wood and Tim Jackson each scoring 50 before bowling out their opponents for 125.
Bierley followed up their victory over Woodlands the previous day by beating Manningham Mills in a dress rehearsal for Sunday’s re-arranged Priestley Cup final. Overseas player Rao Anjum top scored with 75 as Bierley made 242-7 before bowling out Mills for 136 with off spinner Kez Ahmed taking 5-38.
LIghtcliffe batsmen were also in form as they beat Pudsey Congs by a mere seven runs in a high scoring match. Openers, Yorkshire batsman Alex Lees with 103 and former Yorkshire batsman Chris Taylor 75 shared a first wicket stand of 163 as Lightcliffe totalled 254-7. Congs made a bold effort to reach their challenging target led by Barbar Butt 72 and Basil Akram 60 before falling agonisingly short on 247-9.
Undercliffe’s relegation was confirmed with their eight wicket defeat at Pudsey St Lawrence. Off spinner Chris Marsden took 7-29 as Undercliffe were bowled out for 98. Skipper Mark Robertshaw then scored 54 not out as St Lawrence cruised to victory.
There was a feast of runs at Bradford & Bingley where the home side totalled 321-4 with opener Simon Davies top scoring with 119 while fellow opener Scott Etherington made 56 and James Davies 50 not out. Saltaire made a bold effort to reach this formidable target before finishing 61 runs short on 260-7 with Tabbi Bhatti (57) and opener Farhan Khan (50) both making half centuries.
Baildon made sure of promotion back to the First Division at the first attempt with a ten wicket win at Great Horton. Sohail Raz took 5-36 as the home side were bowled out for a mere 96. Gharib Razak then scored 62 not out as Baildon raced to victory.
Who goes up with Baildon will be decided on the last day of the season when third placed Morley meet second placed Yeadon.
© Cricket World 2012
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