Saturday was the day Whitley Hall firmly stamped their Championship credentials - though we will have to wait until June 27, when they play Treeton, to see how absolute this is.
Saturday was the clash of the only two unbeaten teams - Whitley and Aston Hall, and Whitley just stepped up a gear. Four batsmen made 50s (Jim Tasker, 71*, Matthew Milburn 65, Anthony Wilson 62 and Chris Siddall 57) as they amassed 349-7. Aston were 22-3 in reply but recovered to 217-7, Mark Barnard making 79.
It illustrates the one anxiety Whitley may have, that they struggle to bowl out opponents. They have only four bonus points out of a potential 12 which leaves Treeton still in touch.
Bowling is usually Treeton’s strong suit - but they could only take 9 of Wickersley’s wickets on Saturday, for 178. Steve Foster went for just 20 in 15 overs and Adam Clarke took 5-39 as no Wickersley player made more than 29. But then none of Treeton’s batsmen made more than 25, except one - Charlie Roebuck - and, where all else were struggling, he scored his second hundred in eight days, from 72 balls, so Treeton’s six wicket win appeared easy.
For ordinary players, it wasn’t!
The tightest game was at Darfield, where Michael Topp, Adam Wiles and Daniel Waldron battled to get the home side to 190-8 and, for the second week running, Ainsley Swallow (91) held Elsecar together.
But he was out with 41 still needed and when it went to the last over, Elsecar fell just four short.
Elsewhere, Houghton Main enjoyed themselves at Tickhill, making 222-8 (Liam Rigby 61Tanzeel Ali 51) then bowling out Tickhill for 91, Rigby completing a fine all-round performance with 6-22.
Conisbrough just overcame Coal Aston. Liam Johnson made 61 and Laurence Browes 42 as Coal Aston set 193-7, and it took Arosh Janoda’s familiar attacking skills (five sixes in 52*) to take Conisbrough home by one wicket falling to 137-7 at one stage.
And Wath can thank an outstanding innings of 114 by Shawn Dyson for beating Hallam by three wickets, after Hallam posted 216-8 (Joe Cooper 91).
In Division One, the most nail-biting finish of the season so far came between Norton Woodseats and Aston Hall, who tied their match 230 each at Aston. Both were desperate to win and get away from the bottom of the table. For Woodseats, Aamir Ashfaque scored 97 (what an ‘almost’ day he had!) and Saqib Shah 55. Robert Ross scored 91 and Nathan Ward 40 for Aston. Woodseats were bowled out with five balls wasted.
Aston had been cruising on 172-3 before Ashfaque (3-47) took out the middle order. Shahzad Hussain (3-43) got seven, eight and nine but couldn’t get the last. What a game!
Elsewhere, Whiston beat Shiregreen (120ao) by six wickets to stay top but Rotherham beat Barnsley to join them, level on points. Rockingham bowled Whitley out for 90, having scored 205-7 and, in two tighter games, Collegiate 2nds made 147 (Adrian Meadows 43, Matt Scholey 5-39) and held Millhouses Works to 106 (Tom Eldred 5-34), while Norton Oakes inched to a famous victory over Kexborough to stay in touch with the leaders.
Kexborough made 122 (Josh Thompson 4-38) and Oakes got there for nine down, thanks to James Thompson (33) and a last wicket stand of 14 by Marcos Cuevas-Nunez and Nelson Stevens. Andy Moore took 4-13 for Kexborough.
On Sunday, Hallam and Wickersley progressed smoothly to the semi finals of the Nicholas Associates Whitworth Cup, both winning by nine wickets.
Hallam bowled Darfield out for 103, Mark Williams taking 4-9 in nine overs. As the overnight rain dried out, Hallam found the batting much easier and Alex Hughes (47) and Nick Dymock (49*) knocked off the runs in just 16 overs.
Elsecar set more of a total, Jason Meadows(51), Ian Swallow (32) and Andrew Joburns (32) holding things together, but could only reach 181 ao, while Wickersley cruised to 184-1 with Haider Jahangir stroking 90*, ably supported by Richard Harrison 33 and, ominously, Shaajhan Younis , returning to form with 47*.
The remaining quarter finals are next Sunday, Whitley Hall v Aston Hall at Whitley, and June 14, Coal Aston v Treeton at Coal Aston.
In the Nicholas Associates Mick Savage Memorial Cup, played between Division One and Two teams, there were wins for Upper Haugh, Sheffield Collegiate, Shiregreen, Rockingham Colliery, Whiston and Norton Oakes.The quarter finals are on Sunday, June 21.
Next week at the top of the Championship, Whitley play Elsecar and Treeton play Aston Hall while Wath and Coal Aston battle it out at the bottom.