BRADFORD'S billiards team enjoyed an impressive 8-5 victory over title-chasing Harrogate at Great Horton Conservative Club as they repeated their previous week's Yorkshire Inter-District League result against fellow contenders Huddersfield.
It could have been even better, as Steve Wilman led from early in his game against Harrogate opponent Tom Halliday. A home win looked likely until, from 60 behind, Halliday ran in three 20-plus breaks in rapid succession before closing out the game 200-172 to give the visitors a 3-2 advantage.
Mick Cockcroft responded to a late call-up to play his first match for Bradford for several years and put in a great performance, overwhelming Harrogate captain Tim Godolphin 200-103 to edge his side into a 5-4 lead.
Bradford skipper Stephen Kershaw started as underdog against Stephen Crosland, one of the country's best players, and his promising opening break of 39 was immediately countered by the Harrogate man's 30.
Kershaw soon extended his lead again and a break of 56 took him to 172-69 in front before he then got stuck at 190. Yet Crosland was only able to recover to 132, giving Bradford another 3-1 success and an overall 8-5 victory.
With two matches to play, Harrogate now top the table on 44 points to Bradford's 41, with the teams due to meet again in Harrogate on March 11. However, Huddersfield have played a match less and are lurking in the background on 34 points.
Bradford's final home fixture is against Doncaster on Saturday (7.30pm), again at Great Horton Conservative Club.
Meanwhile, the Bradford No 1 snooker side continued their recent fine form with a 5-1 victory at Wakefield.
Wayne Cooper made a 50 break during his two-frame win, 80-20 and 81-17 against Ashley Dean – which Kevin Firth bettered when compiling a break of 89 in his two-frame success against Wayne Haigh, winning 57-33 and 104-25.
Lewis Walsh eased the visitors 5-0 up with a solid 71-26 win, aided by a 32 break, but opponent Chris Hall pulled a frame back for the home side as he took it 56-20.
The two sides face each other again at Undercliffe Cricket Club on Sunday (7pm) in a rearranged fixture from earlier in the season. Bradford No 2 host Harrogate at Cue Gardens, also on Sunday.
* THE Bradford Championships saw Lewis Walsh enjoy two good results, which included edging past Richard Hagerty 4-3 in the singles.
In the pairs, with partner Howard Mawson, he moved through to the semi-finals with a 3-2 win against 2005 champions Mark Slater and Jason Murgatroyd, although Slater made the competition's highest break to date with an 85.
Defending champions Josh Walker and Russell Morgan led 2-0 but were knocked out 3-2 by three-times champions Gareth and Anthony Green.
But last season's beaten semi-finalists Chris and John Wellham progressed thanks to a 3-0 win over Dave Stirk and John Andrews.
The draws for the next round of matches will be carried out at Undercliffe Cricket Club on Sunday at 6.30pm prior to Bradford's match against Wakefield.
* YORKSHIRE Championship first-round draws (Bradford players only) – February 26: Russell Morgan v Danny McGee. Simon Bedford v Oliver Mulcahy. March 5: Lewis Walsh v Josh Walker, Mark Ball v Daniel Womersley, Andrew Owen v Anthony Green, Brett Miller v Hanif Rafiq, Richard Binns v Daniel Farmer, Wayne Cooper v Dave French, Gareth Green v Daniel Knight.