Double-chasing Otley and Horsforth close in on Aire-Wharfe honours

Oliver Hardaker is one of prospective Division Three champions Horsforth's new recruits

Oliver Hardaker is one of prospective Division Three champions Horsforth's new recruits

First published in Sport Ilkley Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Sports Reporter

OTLEY and Horsforth have the chance to write their names on the Aire-Wharfe League's honours board this weekend, and both will start as hot favourites.

Otley take on Collingham on Sunday in the re-staged final of the Waddilove Cup that was rained off two weeks ago.

By chance they have home advantage but more importantly they have a side packed full of talent and in with a good chance of completing a league and cup double.

Their opponents, meanwhile, are locked in a dogfight for survival at the wrong end of the table and face a difficult preparation in the form of tomorrow’s league clash with Ilkley.

The only thing that might count against Otley is any big-match jitters that might affect them. They have not won the trophy since 1988, while Collingham picked it up just two years ago.

An ambitious, pre-season recruiting campaign that saw players of the quality of Mahir Ali, Ryan Sharrocks, Oliver Hardaker and Michael Lambert added to the side gave notice that Horsforth were determined to make amends for just missing out on promotion from Division Three last season.

They have lived up to that promise, losing only once all season, and need 16 points from their match against Silsden to be sure of getting back to the second tier, which they left in 2007 and just two seasons after having to apply for re-election.

Illingworth are favourites to go up with them and will expect to pick up another victory against a Menston side still smarting from a crushing defeat by New Rover in which eight of their players picked up ducks.

Olicanian can do the top two a favour if they can dent the challenge of third-placed New Rover, while Addingham can extend their winning run to seven matches at home to struggling Bardsey. Hall Park take on bottom club Woodhouse.

While Division One leaders Otley prepare for the cup final with a match against bottom-side Ben Rhydding, their two closest challengers for the title, Burley and Beckwithshaw, slug it out.

It is likely to be a very different game to when the sides met earlier in the season. Then Jason Wright (4-41) and Nick Brook (3-14) starred as Burley won by 103 runs and sent Beckwithshaw into the bottom two.

Since then Ben Quick’s side have lost only once and are still hoping to defend the title they won last season.

Rawdon go to Bilton needing a win to boost their hopes of staying up, and they will hope that Steeton beat Pool and Guiseley overcome Kirkstall to keep their rivals deep in the relegation battle.

There’s another top-against-bottom clash in Division Two, and it will be a major upset if Bolton Villas manage to dent Follifoot’s path to promotion.

It is a tough week for all the sides in danger of the drop. Upper Wharfedale face third-placed North Leeds, Thackley travel to Green Lane, who are still in with a chance of going up, Skipton entertain Tong Park Esholt, who have won four of their last five, and Harden tackle the division's form team, second-placed Colton.

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