NEVER has the start of the Holliday Cup campaign been more eagerly-anticipated.
With Slaithwaite Saracens top of Division I and Emley Moor third, Newsome Panthers leading the Second Division and Lindley Swifts dominating Division III, the Huddersfield amateur scene is buzzing.
And with confidence among so many of the town’s clubs so high, some cracking ties are definitely on the cards.
Top of the tree is arguably the clash at the Spa between Slaithwaite Saracens and Lindley Swifts.
The hosts already appear to be far too strong for the First Division, and it’s possible the unbeaten Swifts may find the going tough.
But with Lindley taking the Third Division by storm, Swifts coach Kev Bower believes this contest could be just what his ever-improving side needs.
"This tie is going to act as a great yardstick for our young side to gauge just how much we still need to improve to live with the top teams," said Bower, pictured left.
"Slaithwaite are annihilating every team in sight, so for us a ‘victory’ would appear to be getting anywhere within 20 points!
"But even though we look like being without four or five of our young stars due to work commitments and injuries, it still promises to be a game full of open rugby and I’m sure it’ll be a great game to watch.
"Apart from being a cracking player, Ritchie Hawkyard has done a fantastic job since taking over as coach, and our up-and-coming side are looking forward to playing arguably the best team in Huddersfield, if not the Pennine League at the moment.
"Competing against players such as Darren and Ritchie Hawkyard, Mick Bostock, Dave Holmes and young Nathan Shaw is a mammoth task, but it’s what rugby league is all about. We’re really looking forward to it."
Another mouth-watering clash takes place at Fartown where Premier Division St Joseph’s host Division I side Emley Moor.
Under normal circumstances, a victory for the home side would seem the obvious outcome.
But with Joe’s having needed extra time to beat struggling First Division side Keighley Town in the Pennine President’s Cup a fortnight ago and then going down to second-bottom Kippax Welfare in the League last week, Moor may feel this is the ideal time to strike, especially after their big 54-2 triumph over Wyke last time out.
Newsome Panthers are another Huddersfield side in buoyant mood, having won seven out of seven to lead Division II.
And it is going to take something special from hosts Moldgreen to upset the odds this weekend.
While the Panthers are proudly sitting at the top of the table, the team from the DRAM Centre have won just two of their opening eight League fixtures, although they may feel such an eagerly-awaited derby clash could help kick-start their campaign.
Meltham All Blacks will be hoping home advantage makes all the difference in the world in their tie against Underbank Rangers.
The All Blacks are commanding a mid-table place in Division V, while Rangers are in a similar spot in Division IV, with the fact the match is being staged at Meltham making the final outcome too close to call.
The Cup ties get under way at 2pm.
As well as the four big Cup clashes, there are also two derby battles in Division VI of the Pennine League.
Leaders Newsome A look to make it seven wins from eight starts at home to a St Joseph’s A side who are now beginning to find some form after a shaky start.
At the same time, Slaithwaite A head into their eagerly-awaited clash at Emley Moor A on the back of a hard-fought 26-22 triumph at Wyke A.
Matthew Hird scored two tries on his debut, while others came from Matthew Butler, Graham Hall and Gavin Dyson, who also added three goals.
There was also an excellent performance from 16-year-old full-back Daine Longmoor.
And Underbank A should be confident of winning for a fourth time at home to Wetherby Bulldogs.