Woodlands skipper Swanepoel aims to get it right in title battle

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Woodlands skipper Pieter Swanepoel is expecting a cracker tomorrow against Cleckheaton Woodlands skipper Pieter Swanepoel is expecting a cracker tomorrow against Cleckheaton

PIETER Swanepoel is still hurting over Woodlands' lost opportunity earlier this season.

The 37-year-old former Yorkshire bowler blames himself for the fact that his team only tied with defending champions Cleckheaton in their JCT600 Bradford League First Division match on April 26, despite the paceman taking 3-49.

"I bowled with my heart instead of my head," confessed the Albert Terrace side's skipper. "I tried to get the batsmen out instead of trying to stop the runs."

That Woodlands still managed to tie after making 194-9 was largely down to their overseas player Safraz Ahmed.

He took the wickets of potential Cleckheaton match-winner Mal Nicholson for 87 and No 11 Andrew Deegan for a duck with the first two balls of the final over to dismiss the hosts for 194 and earn parity.

"Mal batted superbly but that last over was as fast as I have seen Saffy bowl for ten years," revealed Swanepoel.

The top two meet again tomorrow at Woodlands, with Cleckheaton holding a 12-point lead over Woodlands (160 v 148).

The Woodies' position would have been a whole lot better were it not for two days to forget against third-placed Pudsey St Lawrence (137 points) three weekends ago.

They lost in the league by ten runs in a low-scoring encounter at Albert Terrace on the Saturday before being humbled by 61 runs in the Priestley Cup at the same venue the following day.

"Whoever won the toss on those days was going to win the match, and we lost them both," said Swanepoel.

"As for tomorrow, Cleckheaton have taken confidence from winning the league last season.

"They have spin, seam and swing options and are also strong with the bat. It should be a great match."

Waiting in the wings are Saints, who could do their town rivals Pudsey Congs (83 points) a favour by winning at third-from-bottom East Bierley (85).

Congs, who are second from bottom, have a winnable match at home to Morley (92), who are two places above them having won their first two matches of the season but only one league match since.

Basement boys Yeadon (74) are at home to inconsistent Bradford & Bingley, who, although they are sixth, only have 99 points and are therefore in the mix with the six teams below them to avoid the 'Grand Depart' to the Second Division.

Having faced third-placed Keighley and leaders Undercliffe at home in their second-tier double weekend, second-placed Saltaire are at ninth-placed Bankfoot tomorrow.

Undercliffe host rock-bottom Windhill, so it is equally important that Keighley match the Intake Road side's expected victory by triumphing at next-to-bottom Bowling Old Lane.

Bubbling under the leading trio are a trio of teams, two of which – Baildon and Gomersal – meet at Jenny Lane.

Bradford & Bingley (at Yeadon): P Slater, S Etherington, C Best, R Cooper, D Clow, C Thompson, N Ali, P Dixon, H Smallwood, J Hartley, M Simpson.

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