Yorkshire Leagues – final round


With Doncaster having wrapped up the title last week, attention switched to the bottom of the Yorkshire Premier League table on the final night of the season as Woodfield and Pontefract 2 faced off in a straight shootout for survival.

Pontefract 2, who have been in the top flight for 10 years, began the night just above the dreaded dotted line with a five-point advantage as they headed to Balby to meet a hostile reception.

The night began promisingly for the West Yorkshire club as lower order duo Joe Royle and Connor Sheen both sailed to straight-games victories, but the tide turned inexorably in favour of the hosts thereafter.

Woodfield’s No.3, London-based Caleb Boy, kickstarted the turnaround by resoundingly beating Chester Dockray and the hosts’ top two of George Parker and Declan James always looked likely to prove too formdiable for Ponte.

Former England international Parker defeated New Zealander Anthony Lepper, who had flown from Prague especially for the encounter, in straight games.

All then rested on the top-string outcome. James, the Commonwealth Games gold medallist, had proved his return to full fitness after a long lay-off by winning last week’s Odense Open. Sure enough, he cruised to victory over Rhys Evans to seal Woodfield’s survival – and condemn Pontefract 2 to Division One next season.

“I take full and whole responsibility for this relegation,” said Pontefract captain Matt Godson in a Facebook post. “I will do everything in my power to ensure we make an immediate return.”

Woodfield 3-2 Pontefract 2 (14-6)

Pontefract 2 will be replaced in the Premier League by Cleethorpes, who sealed their promotion to the top tier this week despite defeat to second-placed Harrogate 2. Cleethorpes have a three-point lead and a game remaining, while Harrogate 2 have completed their fixtures.

Elsewhere in the top tier on the final day, the effects of last week’s celebratory champagne had obviously cleared for Doncaster as the newly-crowned champions finished with a flourish by winning 18-5 at Harrogate 1.

Doncaster’s European junior champion Asia Harris won a lung-buster with Thomas Simpson at fifth string before Will Donnelly and Lewis Doughty won more swiftly. Lawmba Chileshe earned three consolation points for Harrogate in his all-Kiwi battle with Joel Arscott, but fast-rising Simon Herbert sealed yet another emphatic win at No.1 against Stuart MacGregor.

Harrogate 1-4 Doncaster (5-18)

Pontefract 1 ended the season in second place (42 points behind Doncaster) despite a 14-6 home defeat to Ferriby Hall (who ended their debut campaign in the top flight with four successive wins, having lost their first seven!). All matches finished in straight games; Godson and Ben Beachill triumphing for Ponte but Glyn Saunders, Dewald van Nierkirk and Ben Smith notching for the visitors from Humberside.

Pontefract 1 2-3 Ferriby Hall (6-14)

Defending champions Hallamshire finished in third after winning the cross-town derby with eighth-placed Abbeydale 18-6 on the final day. Nick Wall Snr, Matt Gregory and the ever-present Adam Turner all won to seal the win early for the visitors. Former world No.1 Nick Matthew beat young Jordan Hardwick in three before No.1 Elliott Morris Devred got a consolation for Abbeydale by toppling Kiwi Temwa Chileshe in four.

Abbeydale 1-4 Hallamshire (6-18)

Queens hovered on the edges of title contention all season without ever truly threatening to repeat their crown of 2021/22. Their fourth-placed finish was secured after a tight 17-10 win at fifth-placed Dunnington. The momentum swung both ways with wins for Marvin Mortensen-Ramlill and Seif Heikal for the York hosts and Stephen Hearst and James Earles for the visitors from Halifax. It all came down to Welshman Owain Taylor against young tyro Finnlay Withington, the former British Junior Open champion. It was Withington who took it 11/9 in the fifth after a late-night, season-closing epic.

Dunnington 2-3 Queens (10-17)

Mike Dale