RELEGATION-threatened Birstall looked down and out when they took on Premier Division rivals Wrenthorpe at Leeds Road, as the bowling seemed to fall apart after early successes.

Craig Wood picked up 5-62 for Birstall but some of the bowling from the former Woodlands second-teamer threatened the surrounding houses more than the batsmen as Greig Batty (39) and skipper Joe Ellis (69) added 81 in 14 overs for the fourth wicket with five sixes between them.

A late flourish from the eigth-wicket pair then saw 71 added in 38 balls but, to their credit, there was some hope of overhauling the visitors' 258-7 while Wood (54) and Rob Macfarlane (70 off 52 balls) were at the crease. Macfarlane was then the second wicket to fall, with the score on 157, and they slumped to 199 all out.

With a game at Townville next, Birstall's chances of repeating their recent cup shock against them are slim so, with only two points between them and relegation, and only seven games to go, the battle for survival is on.

At the other end of the table, fourth-placed Ossett and Scholes, in fifth, are ten and 11points respectively behind leaders Methley.

Scholes struggled to beat second-bottom Hopton Mills but an unbeaten 75-run stand between Mohammed Sharafat (67) and Chris Jackson (40) saw them home by three wickets after an early collapse left them facing a shock defeat. Ossett now go to Mirfield Parish and Scholes are at Wrenthorpe.

In the Championship, a fine win by Buttershaw St Pauls, at promotion-chasing Northowram, opened the door for Liversedge to move into second place behind leaders Batley.

Buttershaw's Kevin McDermott (87) and Ian Carradice (63) put on 113 for the first wicket and they maintained that advantage throughout. After closing on 289-7 they went on to bowl out the home side for 207, with the help of a 5-33 stint from Bradley Neyland, to go fourth.

Batley are still four points clear at the top, after an 80-run win at East Leeds, while Liversedge are now four points clear of Northowram following their six-wicket win at Oulton. Will Atkin took 5-25 as Oulton were bowled out for 170, then half centuries from Mark Hydes (55) and Paul Marlow (50no) helped secure maximum points.

In this week's games Batley are at home to Northowram while Liversedge entertain East Ardsley and Buttershaw St Paul's take on East Leeds at St Paul's Road.