EAST Bierley progressed to the Priestley Cup final for the 11th time in 22 years after overcoming local rivals Woodlands in a thrilling semi-final last Sunday.
Neil Gill (2-18), Luke Jarvis (2-12) and Kez Ahmed (2-37) helped reduce Woodlands to 79-6 before Usman Salim (29no) and Tim Orrell (25) produced a 57-run partnership to help the Bradford League Division One leaders reach a challenging 166-9.
Spinner Chris Brice (3-26) gained three lbw victims as Bierley slipped to 92-6 in reply but while ever opener Gavin Hamilton was at the crease, there was still hope for the home side.
Former Scotland captain Hamilton reached his half-century off 118 balls and shared a vital seventh wicket stand of 64 with Tim Cooper (39).
The returning Sarfraz Ahmed removed Cooper and Kez Ahmed in quick succession as Woodlands fought back.
However, Hamilton and Neil Gill edged Bierley towards their target and Gill hit Sam Frankland for four off the fifth ball of the penultimate over to see them to a fine victory.
Bierley will meet the winning of this Sunday’s second semi-final between Manningham Mills and Hanging Heaton at Spen Victoria on Sunday August 26.
Hanging Heaton defeated Pudsey Congs by 28 runs in their delayed quarter-final tie last Sunday.
Ahsan Butt’s innings of 82 off 69 balls was crucial in enabling Hanging Heaton to recover from 81-4 to post a testing total of 218-8.
Butt hit three sixes and nine fours as he was joined in a sixth-wicket stand of 74 by David Stiff (32).
Basil Akram was the most successful bowler for Congs as he claimed 3-43.
Heaton put the Congs batsmen under pressure in reply and although Akram was their top scorer with 34, wickets fell at regular intervals.
Stiff (3-23), Mark Lawson (3-35) and Nick Bresnan (3-37) helped keep the home side under pressure.
When young Yorkshire prospect Barney Gibson joined Eugene Burzler at the crease, Congs still had hope of reaching their target.
However, Dave Lawrence took the vital catch of Gibson before Burzler was last man out, bowled by Stiff for 26, as Congs were dismissed for 190 and Heaton set up a semi-final trip to Manningham.
The Bennett Lane men will be aiming to reach the showpiece final for the first time since 2000, ironically when they lost to an East Bierley side who were inspired by a century from Yorkshire all-rounder Anthony McGrath.
Woodlands Seconds will play Keighley in the final of the Priestley Shield at Farsley on Sunday August 12.
Robert Medcalf produced a terrific bowling display as he claimed 6-18 and with Elliott Richardson (3-8) supporting, Woodlands dismissed Bradford & Bingley for 110.
Christian Jackson had earlier top scored with 38 as Woodlands posted 197-8 and they secured an 87-run victory.
Keighley claimed a fourth Division One scalp in this season’s Shield as they defeated Morley by eight wickets.
Morley had high hopes of reaching a first Shield final but they were dismissed for just 83 as Alex Towler (4-21) and Steve Reape (3-12) impressed and Keighley went on to complete an eight-wicket win.
Hanging Heaton Seconds suffered a nine-wicket defeat at home to Baildon in last Sunday’s Crowther Cup semi-final.
Baildon captain Jamie Abbott had a weekend to remember.
On Saturday the veteran spinner claimed his 1,000th Bradford League second team wicket and he followed that up by returning excellent figures of 9.1-5-7-3 in the cup.
Abbott was backed up by Salman Sayed (3-10) and Mubasher Khan (3-28) as Heaton were dismissed for 100, despite a top score of 21 from Mick Horner.
Baildon lost an early wicket in reply before Sayed (61no) and Danny Bailey (29no) shared an unbroken second-wicket stand of 100 to see their side to victory.
Woodlands travel to Slaithwaite in a delayed Crowther Cup quarter-final this Sunday, with the winners entertaining Wakefield Thornes in the semis.
The Crowther final takes place on bank holiday Monday, August 27.