RAWDON skipper Joe Smith has admitted that winning the toss was crucial to the outcome of Sunday’s Aire-Wharfe League Waddilove Cup final at Collingham & Linton.

Opponents Steeton did win the toss, opted to bowl and dismissed Rawdon for 111, going on to win by six wickets, having been 33-3 in what was a repeat of last year’s final at Olicanian, with Steeton also making history by becoming the first second-tier side to win the cup in successive seasons.

Smith, who is only 21, revealed: “I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to bowl first, so it was very crucial, and it didn’t rain so it was perfect to bat second on and you also got to see how to play and what to expect.

“The slower balls were crucial, going into the pitch, so the toss was a killer really, but I haven’t been tossing well all year!”

Smith added: “The feedback from the players at tea was that 130 was just below par or par and 150 was above par but we had a chance if we took early wickets.

“We did take early wickets, but the pitch just got flatter and flatter as the day went on and their numbers three and five just bided their time, which was all that they needed to do really.

“They only needed one partnership or someone to whack 20 or 30, but with a total that low you need to keep taking wickets and breaking partnerships.”

It was a calculated risk to go ahead with the final when the Huddersfield League, Craven League and Halifax League had all postponed their blue-riband cup finals by a week until next Sunday, but the hard work of everyone at Collingham paid off.

Yes, the wicket was understandably wet, but the host club made a good first of staging the final, both in terms of preparing the pitch and looking after the spectators in terms of food and drink.

Steeton won the toss and chose to field, and there was a dramatic start with wickets falling in the second and third overs, Ben Hemsley bowling Henry Scanlan with a nip-backer and then Nathan Goldthorp being lbw to Stephen Pearson.

Rawdon were faced with a re-building job, with a slow outfield not helping their cause, but keeper James Dobson (28) and Ross Jennings (17) added 38 before the latter was bowled by first-change Paul Quinlan.

A score of 45-2 became 49-5, and the wicket of Dobson seemed key, with the gloveman being sixth out at 62.

Rawdon were in danger of committing the cardinal sin of not batting out their overs when Tyler Willmott was seventh out at 65, but that receded a little when Andrew Doidge (20) added 26 with his 20-year-old nephew James (16).

They were eventually dismissed for Nelson (111) in the 42nd over, 20 balls short of the maximum, with Quinlan taking 3-23, Hemsley and Ewan Johnston 2-22 and skipper Pearson a superb 2-9 off 7.1 overs.

However, Steeton found things no easier at the top of the order, losing openers Matthew Nutter lbw to the first legitimate ball and Jack Ramage to an even more contentious lbw decision, both off Willmott.

When Hemsley spooned a catch to make it 33-3 it was game on, but Steeton had the calm heads to see them to a six-wicket victory in the 35th over, with Luke Chapman (33no) adding 46 with James Robinson (23) before man-of-the-match Pearson (24no) saw his team home with both plenty of wickets and overs to spare.

As for where Rawdon can finish in Division One (they are currently fifth), Smith admitted: “The league this year is a bit of a bizarre. It is very tight and every Saturday night we look at the table and four or five teams have shifted positions.

“At the start of the season we aspired to be right up there, but (leaders) Collingham have played very well.

“I still think that we can catch Pool for third or maybe finish second if we win all our games.”