The top South Yorkshire Senior Cricket League match between Treeton and Wickersley lived up to its billing last weekend.
Wath’s inconsistency continued, and Hallam - at last - took all seven points as the Premier Division tightened even further at the top.
Four points now seperate the league’s top five clubs: Treeton 55 points, Hallam 54, Elsecar 54, Whitley Hall 53 and Wath 51.
And such is the competition, that Wath’s loss dropped them from top to fifth in one game!
Then there’s a gap of 17 points to the middle order - Wickersley on 34, and Aston Hall on 32 - and a tussle for the second relegation slot between Coal Aston (26 points), Norton Oakes (23), and Darfield and Tickhill (both 22), while Whiston look increasingly isolated at the bottom on 13.
There are just nine games to go and it starts to get really interesting. Next week, four of the top play each other, as do four at the bottom. Tensions are rising!
Treeton showed they could handle the tension on Saturday. Wickersley got 256-9 against them, Jordan Lowe and Haider Jahangir both scoring 60s, but they eased home with an over to spare.
Greg Norton (69*) got vital middle order runs when it mattered, after Gareth Davis (54 in 111 balls) had glued the early order together. And, for good measure, they went on to beat Elsecar in the the Whitworth Cup semi-final on Sunday in an equally tense game.
Elsecar had easily overwhelmed Whiston on Saturday by nine wickets and with the overnight rain freshening the wicket, they must have relished bowling first.
And so it proved. Treeton needed a second big innings from Davis (65 from 91) but still could only make 151, Jason Meadows mesmerising them with 5-23.
However, such conditions also suit Steve Foster and with Adam Clarke and Greg Norton chipping in, Treeton reduced Elsecar to 79-7 and it took a determined partnership from former Yorkshire player Ian Swallow (43*) and Andrew Joburns to restore the fight and nearly the victory.
Scott Cunningham eventually ran out the last man, just nine runs and three balls short of victory.
Meanwhile Hallam won again to move a point behind Treeton, scoring 245-8 at Aston Hall.
Dymock, Marcroft and Emery all scored half centuries and, with all their bowlers available, they did it properly, bowling Aston out for 131.
Emery, Mountjoy, Cooper and Williams took the wickets after the parsimonious Craig Moffat had all but strangled the scoring. Junior Jack Simmonite made most with 36.
Whitley Hall also moved up, with another dominating display against Tickhill. Neil Longhurst scored 104 and Chris Siddall 59 out of 287-6, to which Tickhill had little to offer in response.
Jim Tasker took 6-44 as they were all out for 162. Whitley will be Treeton’s opponents in the Whitworth Cup final, at Aston Hall on Sunday July 27 - a mouth-watering prospect. Try and get there if you can!
Coal Aston, who have threatened all season to put a strong all round performance together, finally did so against Wath, who must have been frustrated by their inability to bat or bowl as league leaders.
Liam Johnson got 80 and Dan Hemingway 63, as Coal Aston scored 237-9 and then all their bowlers performed to restrict Wath. Rob Barlow made 51 but had little support, as his team crashed out for 164.
In the other Premier game, Darfield and Norton Oakes made a better fist of things, Darfield scoring 234 (Liam Marshall 71, Ahmad Yar 59*) and Norton Oakes battling to 220, a great partnership of 93 between Chris Baker (65) and Tom Childs (29) almost getting them there.
But they were thwarted by a magical spell by James Ward (4-17) and Ahmad Yar who took the last 3 wickets for no runs when Norton were within touching distance.
In Division One, it was a disappointing day for local teams as Norton Woodseats, Collegiate, Hallam and Shiregreen all lost.
But Millhouses Works maintained their recovery by scoring 226-6 (Nazakat Khan 65) and then holding Kexborough to 215, largely thanks to Lee Stewart’s 5-70.
On Saturday, Treeton play Elsecar, Whitley Hall face Wath, Coal Aston take on Tickhill and Whiston play Darfield and, unless it rains, the league table will really start to open up!