DIVISION Two leaders Runners suffered only a second defeat of the season in the North Bridge LC League on Monday.
Steph Mitchell’s side lost 18-13 to lowly Blue Mavericks, whose chances of beating the drop have been boosted by the signing of hot-shot Paula Balmforth from Division One outfit Jokers.
Balmforth, who also umpires at North Bridge, is one of the league’s deadliest shooters from range. She hit the target regularly while Runners had a rare off night in the attacking circle.
“That puts us back under pressure,” admitted Runners’ Lisa Lund, who took some solace from the fact that second-placed Rockets had only narrowed the gap to two points after being held 18-18 by ROKT.
Rockets were joined on 34 points by Panthers, who beat Heath Ladies 23-12, and it looks between this trio for the promotion places.
Runners were close to full strength, although Lund was carrying an injury. They also had ex-Calderdale player Emma Steele, who is back after a lengthy spell in Australia, in their ranks
Fellow Calderdale player Gill Coldwell and Mitchell played well but Runners didn’t gel on the nightt.
The top two meet in what should be an informative contest at North Bridge on Monday week.
Triangle now lead Division Four after they beat Ravens 15-13 and Old Brodleians seconds shared the spoils for the fifth time this season, this time in a 14-14 draw with third-placed Tommos.
Runaway pair Gems and Wasps won again in Division Six to stay on course for a title showdown on June 11.
Hi-Tech Cougars, who beat closest rivals Townies in their last outing, should take another step towards retaining the Division One title on Monday.
Carol Crowther’s side are five points clear and are likely to complete their season’s task in the next two games, when they face Yo-yos and Pumas from the bottom three. Their final match is against Old Brodleians on May 28.
Relegation-threatened Arrows have an outside chance of bridging the four-point gap between themselves and third-from-bottom Yo-yos after beating their rivals three weeks since. However, they must beat bottom club Pumas on Monday and hope Yo-yos fail to pick up anything against the table-toppers.
The top match in Division Three at the Ridings involves Halifax and Lee Green. The pair are among the clubs battling for the second promotion place behind unbeaten champs TAGS.
Twinkles 2 have dropped the fewest points in Division Five but one slip could let in Dovetails. Both have banana skin-type contests on Monday.
RESULTS - Division Two: White Rose 19 Robins 15, Blue Mavericks 18 Runners 13, Queens 16 Jets 16, Panthers 23 Heath Ladies 12, Rockets 18 ROKT 18.
Division Six: Barki Belles 4 West End Girls 9, Harlequins 15 Ladybirds 8, Pink Fizz 16 Wasps 27, Sowerby Stars 29 Average Joes 9, Diamonds 12 Gems 14.
Division Four: Old Brods 2 14 Tommos 14, Sparkles 18 Sapphires 15, Twinkles 11 Emeralds 20, Impact 18 Falconers 15, Triangle 15 Ravens 13.
MONDAY’S FIXTURES - At North Bridge (division in brackets): 7.0, Ryburn Utd v Jokers (1) and Rangers v Jewels (5); 7.35, Old Brodleians v Tigers (1) and Hillside Services v Roxy Rebels (5); 8.10, Towergate v Townies (1) and Dovetails v Dynamite (5); 8.45, Pumas v Arrows (1) and Twinkles 2 v Thundercats (5); 9.20, Yo-yos v Hi-Tech Cougars (1) and Black Jacks v Wolves (5).
Ridings: 7.0, Halifax v Lee Green (3); 7.35, Tiger Vets v TAGS (3); 8.10, Sparks v Innscribe (3); 8.45, Unity v XL (3).