Theakston Nidderdale League: Another twist in the thrilling battle for top-flight's top spot
Round 16 of the 2018 season produced another twist in what is turning out to be a thrilling battle for pole position in Division One of the Theakston Nidderdale League.
Helperby began the weekend in top spot, but suffered something of a surprise defeat to mid-table Goldsborough, the loss just their second of the campaign.
Dan Marston's troops looked well set to go on and complete a 12th top-flight success at the mid-way point of the game having restricted their hosts to 144/9 from their 45 overs.
Home opener Luke Boniface was the mainstay of that effort, making a crucial 63 at the top of the order as Joe Corner snapped up 4-37.
Corner then made 35 with the bat, but Aussie Jarrod McPhee (4-19) and Russ Robshaw (3-28) ensured that the visitors' reply ended on 124.
Birstwith took full advantage of their title rivals' slip up, leapfrogging Helperby in the standings and seizing first place courtesy of their superior net run-rate.
The men from The Moss posted a hefty total of 280/8 at home to Dacre Banks, Tom Croston (78), Jon Millward (62) and George Hirst (59) all hitting half-centuries.
A knock of 78 from Stephen Ellison and Salman Sayed's 38 kept Dacre in the game, however Pete Hardisty's four-wicket haul went a long way to getting rid of the away team some 74 runs short of where they needed to be.
Darley remain very much in the hunt, just 12 points further back in third place.
The Crake Lane outfit dismissed Ouseburn with only 136 to their name, Tom Lindley (37) top-scoring as Michael Beecroft (5-24) wreaked havoc.
Jordan King then smashed an unbeaten 81 alongside Alex Newbould (34 not out) to lead Darley to a comfortable nine-wicket triumph in 26 overs.
At the other end of the table, rock-bottom Bishop Thornton edged a step closer to the second tier when they suffered a 12th consecutive defeat.
The Curlews were sent packing for just 109 by Burton Leonard, Sam Crompton (5-40) and Ned Vasey (3-19) both shining with ball in hand.
Earlier, the away team had put 216 on the board thanks largely to Peter Townsend (57) and Ben Drummond (41 not out).
Rob Nelson was the pick of the Thornton attack with 4-45.
Knaresborough Forest's mini-revival came to an end on the road at West Tanfield.
Back-to-back victories had given Joel Ainsley's team hope of escaping the drop-zone, however they were bowled out for only 134 at the Sleningford Oval, Jonny Luty and Andy McIntyre each effecting a trio of dismissals.
Tanfield made light work of their chase, Brendan Millar (71) and Sam Abel (52 not out) wasting no time in wrapping up a seven-wicket win.
Wath & Melmerby, the side currently residing just above the relegation places, lost out to Masham by six wickets.
This was despite the efforts of Mitchell Cross (105) and Adam Newcombe (61) who both batted superbly to record a century and a half-century, respectively in a total of 213/9.
Craig Broadley was in fine form for Masham, bagging 5-26, while Kieran Bramley (3-43) also impressed.
Brodie Eccles (92), Chris Smith (49 not out) and Andrew Smith (48) then got the visitors over the line with six wickets and more than five overs to spare.
Division Two leaders Pateley Bridge lost for the second week on the bounce after being dismissed for 157 by struggling Blubberhouses.
Odin Duesbury’s 42helped the away side chase that score down, despite Colin Chadwick scooping 3-31.
Five wickets from Henry Blythe saw second-placed Kirk Deighton skittle basement boys Markington for 73 and then complete an eight-wicket victory to move within nine points of the summit.
Raskelf blew away Scotton, bowling them out for only 24, having made 114 batting first.
Blake Dobbin and Charlie Lloyd each grabbed four wickets apiece in the first innings, but their efforts were eclipsed by the stunning returns of Raskelf’s Lindon Giuffrida (5-10) and Rob Sigsworth (5-14).
Dan Atkinson helped himself to 4-30 as Killinghall got rid of Spofforth for 149 then cruised to 152/3 thanks to Ed Paxton’s undefeated 50.
Impressive knocks by Jason Chyer (107) and Dominic Taylor (90) saw Burnt Yates compile 272 in the face of 5-45 from Alne's Owen Vaughan.
Cameron Spence struck 48 in response, but the hosts ended up 62 runs short.
Studley Royal's score of 233/8 proved enough to sink Harrogate Strays who were all out for 137 in reply, Julian Corps helping to kill off the Roosters' challenge with 4-33.