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Week 1 preview

Having looked for most of February and March like the season might have to be put back a week or two the first round of Airedale & Wharfedale Senior league fixtures are upon us this weekend with most 1XI & 2XI across the divisions playing their first matches of 2013 having been unable to facilitate any friendly fixtures due to the incumbent weather.
Defending league and cup champions Collingham & Linton CC will be looking for a confident start against Ben Rhydding, a side who narrowly escaped relegation in the final match of last season and whom they beat in that epic Waddilove Cup final that seemed to stretch until Christmas. It will be an instant test of the promoted sides ability to step up to Division 1 as Pool face a tough away trip to 2012 Division 1 bridesmaid’s Burley with Division 2 champions Harden taking on Guiseley at home. Other notable ties see Bilton take on Follifoot, Otley face off against Kirkstall and Steeton play Beckwithshaw with all sides desperate to win the toss and make early inroads and points to start the season well.
In Division 2 Adle and Thackley will start life with home games against Bolton Villas and Bardsey with a bounce back to Division 1 at the first time of asking firmly in their minds. Rawdon having agonisingly missed out on promotion to Pool by two points at the end of last season will want to lay down an early promotion marker by beating last Division 3 champions Colton. Runners up to Colton last year in Division 3 were Tong Park Esholt who will be keen to start well against Knaresborough. North Leeds play Ilkley with Calverley who will want to better their tenth place finish last time out hosting Green Lane.
Division 3 is wide open this year with Horsforth and Skipton being successfully re-elected both will want a better showing this year. Horsforth begin with a home match against Silsden and Skipton face a visit from Illingworth. In the tie of the round Olicanian travel to Upper Wharfedale in a battle of the relegated sides both vying for immediate returns to Division 2 neither having claimed a win over the other last season as both games were rain affected. Hall Park face Woodhouse first up, Menston play Addingham and New Rover play Alwoodley who only escaped having to be re-elected on the final game of 2012 season with a win over Hall Park.
Into 2XI Division 1 Nick Fraser will lead out his Guiseley troops against Harden for a record breaking 25th consecutive season as they try to repeat the feat of an unbeaten season and a league & cup double.  North Leeds and Ilkley will resume rivalries in Division 1 as the two promoted sides start against familiar foes. Interestingly although it was North Leeds who were promoted as champions it was Ilkley who took the spoils between the two sides claiming six points on both occasions last season with impressive wins.  Olicanian take on Adel who will want to better their fourth place last time out whilst Rawdon face Bilton, Tong Park Esholt play Otley and Beckwithshaw host Steeton.
Division 2 begins with an uphill task for promoted champions Horsforth as they face relegated Green Lane and Burley in the first two weeks of the season. The other promoted side New Rover test their new Division 2 status out with an away trip to Follifoot. Both Collingham and Knaresborough will want to better their third and fourth place finishes in 2012 when they begin their title challenges with tough away ties against Ben Rhydding and Kirkstall respectively. Burley will try to put the agony of final day relegation to bed with a home game against Pool.
Having missed out on promotion by one point on the final game of last season Colton will want to start well when they travel to Alwoodley. Bardsey and Illingworth, back in Division 3 after relegation last season will start off their campaigns with games against Hall Park and Skipton who will be hoping for much better weather than last year having had eight games abandoned. In the other two Division 3 ties Addingham host Menston, Calverley travel to Silsden whilst Bolton Villas begin with a home match against Upper Wharfedale with all four teams wanting to give a better showing in 2013 after none got close to promotion.
There are eight fixtures in the newly reorganised 3XI which now boasts two conferences made up of eight teams in each. Having each won their conferences last season Steeton, Ilkley and Guiseley will now battle it out amongst five other teams in a what is bound to be a highly competitive conference with Guiseley starting out against Olicanian, Ilkley travelling to local rivals Otley, Steeton playing Ben Rhydding and finally Thackley playing Burley.
Conference A is wide open with Horsforth playing Bilton at home, Green Lane starting off at home to Follifoot, Rawdon playing Adel and North Leeds hosting Knaresborough. All eight teams will fancy their chances in the conference and in the Ian Chappell cup with the first rounds of the cup taking place on 2nd June.
Good luck to all teams and players in what is bound to be a tricky start to the competitive season.
Check back here each week for our reviews of the weekend’s action and preview of the following week’s matches.