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Harwood hunt for cup glory

GREAT HARWOOD know the Veka Ribblesdale League title is beyond them this year - but they still have their eye on one trophy.

GREAT HARWOOD know the Veka Ribblesdale League title is beyond them this year - but they still have their eye on one trophy.

Defending champions Read are running away with the title as predicted by Harwood skipper Russell Whalley at the start of the season.

Harwood ran them a close second last season but have had mixed fortunes this year in the league - and have turned all their attentions to the Ramsbottom Cup.

Harwood face Earby on June 20 in the quarter-final stage and if they win and last season's cup winners Read beat Oswaldtwistle Immanuel in their last eight game, the two finalists from last year will meet in the semi-finals.

"We know we won't win the league and we would be happy with a top three position," admitted Whalley. "Settle are a strong side and they are second in the league at the moment and I expect them to be up there as well."

"But we want to win the cup. It is a shame we could face Read in the semi's as it was a good final last year - apart from the result."

"But we want to make sure it is our year in the cup."

Harwood are certainly performing well now after stuttering early on when a double loss weekend seriously weakened any hope of piling the pressure on runaway leaders Read.

However they showed they are not to be forgotten by hitting a massive 333-4 against Padiham on Saturday which broke the league's senior batting record. It was held by Cherry Tree who set 319-3 in 1995.

Opener Whalley - who has scored more than 400 runs so far this season in league and cup including one ton - made a quick-fire 80.

He needed just 48 balls - including seven sixes and eight boundaries - to set Harwood on their way.

But he was outshone by Australian pro Andy Crook who celebrated 123 - his first century of the campaign - with seven sixes and ten fours to take his league tally to 429 runs so far this season. This makes him the second highest run scorer in the league.

And Paul Houldsworth also made 50 off just 60 balls as Harwood piled on the pressure to amass the mammoth 333.

Padiham could do little in reply as Stuart Maher finished with the best figures of 3-18 and Padiham fell 111 runs short.

Tomorrow's opponents Whalley - currently propping up the table - will be worried Harwood could do the same to them at Cliffe Park.

Meanwhile, Oswaldtwistle Immanuel skipper Gerald Metcalf ripped Whalley apart on Saturday as his side celebrated a win to keep them in mid-table position.

Metcalf took 6-24 - disposing of the middle order - while son Andy saw off the tail with 2-29 and bowler Kurt Smithson got rid of the openers for 2-18.

The total of 77 was easy for Immanuel with Indian pro Raja Ali top scoring with 25 in their eight wicket win.

Immanuel face the team just above them Cherry Tree tomorrow.

Meanwhile Baxenden's Pete Usher had plenty to shout about as he was also in the wickets in their tight win over Blackburn Northern.

Northern finished on 135-7 with Usher's figures 39-6.

Baxenden's Mark Rishton then was the star of the show with the bat making 64 in 59 balls - hitting 11 boundaries and one six in the knock. He has made 352 runs in eight league games he has played so far and is fifth in the league's run count.

Baxenden passed Northern's total with six wickets to spare but they face a tough game tomorrow when they make the trip to championship contenders Settle.

  • GREAT HARWOOD did not play in the second round of the Lancashire Cup on Sunday against Settle and it looks like they will not play any further part in the competition. Lancashire Cup second round games have to go ahead before June 13.

Harwood wanted to play a few weeks ago but Settle didn't because of the number of double headers and then Settle wanted to play last Sunday but Harwood didn't for the same reason. "We are out of the competition now," admitted captain Russell Whalley, whose side could face a two-year ban.

  • HARWOOD have Allan Armer and Stuart Hamer in the Ribblesdale League side who face the Central Lancashire League in the Inter League Trophy on Sunday.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
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Jon Macpherson
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Garth Dawson
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