WOODLANDS are not used to losing cricket matches, but they have come up agonisingly short once more at Headingley, losing by six runs to Castleford in the Yorkshire Premier League play-off final.

It was a similar story there in 2019, as Woodlands went down by three runs in the final against Sheriff Hutton Bridge.

The defeat at the weekend was a sickening blow to outgoing captain Cieran Garner, who skippered the side in both of those narrow defeats.

Discussing Saturday's loss, Garner said: "It was frustrating to get so close, because you're always thinking about those fine margins.

"You just wonder whether you could have stopped the other side getting a few more runs in the field, or whether there were chances to steal another couple of runs with the bat and things like that.

"If you lose by 50 or 60 runs, you say fair play, you were well beaten by the better team on the day, so this is more hard to take than that."

Woodlands looked to have no chance in their reply to Castleford's 241-9 at one point, but a lower-order rearguard from Elliot Richardson and Greg Finn, who put on 64 for the eighth wicket, got them right back in it.

Discussing the team's batting strength, Garner said: "Elliot batted particularly well at the weekend, and he's got a lot of natural ability with the bat, he's more than just our opening bowler.

"But we've got so much depth in that area, which is why he's in the lower order.

"He said it himself, he probably played one shot too many and got himself out near the end, but we certainly can't blame him for the defeat, as he kept us in it."

New Zealand all-rounder Brad Schmulian is Woodlands' star man, but he missed the big final, as he had to go home earlier this month to fulfil his central contract with Central Stags.

Garner said: "He was a big player to have missing. Last time we played at Headingley in 2019 he didn't get runs, so we were trying to find those positives, but it was hard.

"Any team would have had him in their side, but he has a contract in New Zealand, and he has to quarantine in a hotel out there first too."

With Schmulian unable to save the team, it meant a disappointing end to Garner's time as Woodlands skipper.

Asked if he had any regrets, Garner said: "The dream would have been to bring the curtain down with a win on Saturday, having lost the final in 2019.

"But to get Woodlands, as a club, to Headingley for the first two times in their history was special, and I'm honoured to have led them there.

"It was two days out for our fans too.

"With some of the older ones, who probably never thought they'd see the club at Headingley, I've had it fed back that it meant so much to them, and it was a nice feeling to know I'd helped give people that experience.

"I regret that I couldn't sign off in style on Saturday, but at the start of the season, our target is always to win the league, which we've done in my two years as captain in 2019 and 2021.

"Anything else, like Headingley, is a bonus."