THE three fancied teams in the Arrow Central League Premiership all opened their campaigns with expected victories – although champions Hoylandswaine were pushed hard all the way.

Danny Mulhall soon had Azaad in trouble, taking six for 22 as the Swaine dismissed the visitors for just 72.

However, it was anything but plain sailing as the title-holders careered to 72-7 and needed the steadying influence of Ryan Copley’s unbeaten 29 to see them safely home.

Last season’s runners-up Westborough – who amalgamated with Thornhill the previous year, and having now undergone a name change during the winter – had a much easier ride against Thurstonland who were held to 147, despite 39 apiece from both Chris Flanagan, the former Holmfirth player, and Ashley Haywood, who like Flanagan also previously played at Birchencliffe.

Earlier Thornhill & Westborough made a useful 222-7 with R Gomersal scoring an undefeated 67.

Another club expected to push for honours again this season is Cumberworth, and they too won with a lot to spare after making 207-6 in the allotted overs, Chris Kilner top-scoring with 57 and Martin Kilner an unbeaten 47.

Richard Parkes rocked Old Almondburians when he nipped in with five for 21 as the school side were shot out for 56.

One team gaining a slice of revenge was Mirfield, who had to play second fiddle last season in Section A to eventual champions Edgerton & Dalton.

This time they met at Memorial Park, and the visitors were dismissed for 114, A Zarif claiming six for 20 before Mirfield went on to win by six wickets.

There were also low-scoring games at Green Moor, where visiting Leymoor were sent tumbling for 67, before the home side edged it by four wickets, while at Cawthorne, Holmbridge managed only 88-8 (Ian Glover taking three for 10) before the Barnsley men, led by Chris Mosley (30) won by nine wickets.

In Section B Tom Goatley returned to Denby Dale having undergone a pretty unsuccessful half season with Shelley in the Drakes Premiership, and his four for 15 helped peg Bradley & Colnebridge to 136-9. T Newsome then made 36 not out as the Dale scraped through by two wickets.