Thrilling battle for Theakston Nidderdale championship to be decided on final day

Ouseburn are in pole position in the race for the Division One title. Picture: Caught Light Photography

Saturday afternoon will see what has been a thrilling tussle for the Theaskton Nidderdale League championship draw to a conclusion.

Heavy rainfall washed away Birstwith’s hopes of winning Division One last weekend, meaning the battle for the title is now a two-horse race.

With just one round of fixtures remaining, league leaders and defending champions Ouseburn (92 points) and second-placed Masham (89 points) remain the only sides in contention after the pair recorded comfortable victories over Alne and Burton Leonard, respectively.

Last Saturday’s scheduled match between already-relegated Spofforth and Birstwith (84 points) was abandoned without a ball being bowled leaving the men from The Moss eight points off the pace with only six points left to play for.

Helperby also began the penultimate weekend with an outside chance of finishing top if other results went their way.

Although their game with Goldsborough also fell foul of the weather, the result of the match was irrelevant anyway as far as the title race was concerned as Ouseburn’s win ruled them out of the equation.

Masham restricted Burton Leonard to 119/9 thanks largely to Kieran Bramley’s 5-14, before reaching 124/3 in reply.

Nathan Kleinig (56 not out) and Kyle Coetzee (40 not out) then wrapped up a seven-wicket success that keeps their team just three points behind leaders Ouseburn.

Phil Newton’s troops visit Birstwith on the final day of the season knowing that they must win and hope their title rivals lose for them to have any chance of finishing first.

Ouseburn bundled relegation-threatended Alne out with just 94 runs on the board, Tom Parker and Jamie Bryant each taking three wickets.

The hosts then raced to 95/2 in 21 overs as Bryant hit 40 not out, consolidating their position on top of the pile ahead of this weekend’s crucial trip to West Tanfield.

Defeated Alne (36 points) remain in the drop zone, two points from safety and needing to better the result of Knaresborough Forest (38 points) on Saturday if they are to avoid demotion.

Forest could have secured their top flight status when they hosted Darley in their last home fixture of 2017, but suffered a 14-run reverse at the hands of their visitors.

Brad Stephens struck an unbeaten knock of 83 to guide the away team to 191/8 in 40 overs, despite 3-42 from Joel Ainsley.

Aaron Brunner (68) and Mark Rogers (50) both made half-centuries at the top of the order to put Knaresborough in a strong position, but a batting collapse saw them slump from 126/2 to 177 all out.

Chris Gill was the star of the show for Darley, snapping up fine figures of 6-41 while Joe Furniss also impressed with a four-wicket haul.

Forest bring their campaign to a close with a trip to Burton Leonard this Saturday, while Alne host Spofforth.

Elsewhere, the clash between Hampsthwaite and West Tanfield was another to be abandoned before play could begin due to the weather.

In Division Two, just two fixtures were completed last weekend but the champions are very likely to be Wath & Melmerby.

Bobby Hilton’s side (87 points) could still be caught by Dacre Banks (81 points), but the league leaders have a superior net run-rate.

A strange game saw Wath bundled out for just 45 in their penultimate fixture of the campaign after Dacre had posted 146/4.

Waqas Rasheed posted 50 at the top of the order for the victors before capturing 4-13 with the ball, in addition to a similarly fine effort from Mitchell Hearn (4-21).

In a match reduced to 20 overs, Bishop Thornton beat Studley Royal 2nds by 13 runs, ending the Ripon outfit’s hopes of a top-two finish.

Andrew Hyland struck a half-century for Thornton before team-mate Rich Priest effected five dismissals with ball in hand.

These results have consolidated Banks’ place in second position and they are now promoted back to the top flight.

At the other end of the table, Ripley and Newby Hall are relegated, thus Harrogate Strays and Killinghall will take their places in 2018 having secured promotion from the third division.

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