The Winter Leagues are now taking shape, with most teams having played around half of their first half fixtures. Here is a quick update on the latest position in each division.
Reigning champions Tynemouth 1’s stunning 4-1 (18-5) victory over Northern 1 this week keeps the title race wide open at this early stage, with no team now remaining unbeaten. Westoe 1 edged out Northumberland 1 by 3-2 (17-7) to lead the table with 4 wins out of 5 and 81 points, just 2 points ahead of Tynemouth (also 4 wins out of 5, 79 points), followed by Newcastle University 1B (3 wins out of 4, 59 points) and Northern 1 (3 wins out of 4, 54 points). Newcastle University 1A have several matches in hand on the top teams and could still pose a threat, whilst Northern 2 and Tynemouth 2 are already somewhat adrift at the bottom having lost all their matches.
Pick of next Thursday’s matches are Northern 1 v Westoe 1 and Newcastle University 1A v Tynemouth 1, with the two University teams playing each other for bragging rights the following Thursday.
Benwell Hill and Northumberland 2 are the leaders of this 10-team division, both with 4 wins out of 4, with Benwell on 74 points, 5 ahead of Northumberland 2. Neither team was in action this week, but Chester-le-Street 1 hauled themselves up the table to 5th with back-to-back 3-2 victories over Eldon 1 and Newbiggin. Newbiggin themselves playing back-to-back matches rebounded from the home defeat to Chester-le-Street to put a dent in 3rd-placed Sunderland 2’s promotion challenge with a 3-2 (16-9) away win taking them to within 2 points of Sunderland in 4th place.
Meanwhile at the other end of the table, there are four teams with only 1 win so far. Northern 3 are bottom on 34 points from 4 matches, followed by Westoe 2 (42 from 4), Tynemouth 3 (42 from 5) and Eldon 1 (43 from 5).
The table has yet to take shape as a number of fixtures have been rescheduled for later in the half, but Hexham 1 have made an unbeaten start, albeit having only played (and won) two matches, and Concordia, the two Primrose teams (2 and 3) and the two Northumberland teams (3 and 4) are all in the mix. Boldon 1 are struggling with injuries but should be safe, with Tynemouth 4 and Northern 4 both winless after four matches each and marooned at the bottom.
Consett 1 are the early leaders with 66 points from 4 matches, followed by Hexham 2 (66 from 5). However the two teams below them remain unbeaten - Eldon 2 with 54 points from 3 matches, having already beaten both teams above them, and Sunderland 3 (53 from 3). Tynemouth 5 prop up the table with only 5 points from 3 outings so far, followed by Chester-le-Street 2 (11 from 2).
Boldon 2 lead the table with 66 points from 4 matches, followed by unbeaten Northern 5 on 46 from 3 (all 3-2 wins). Boldon 3 sit third on 43 from 3 and Chester-le-Street 2 (unbeaten on 28 from 2) could get amongst the leaders when they catch up their fixtures.
Eldon 3 (38 points from 3 matches) and Ashington (40 from 4) will be a little concerned at their start to the season, and Consett 2 (4 points from only 1 match so far) have a lot of catching up to do.
Tynemouth Social have overtaken Northern Juniors at the top after a 5-0 (20-5) away win against Consett 3 this week. Both teams are unbeaten after 3 matches, Socials having only dropped 2 points so far to lead on 58 points with Juniors on 54. Then come Hexham 3 (42 from 3) and Primrose 4 (40 from 3).
Alnwick are firmly at the bottom with no points from their only match so far, and Newcastle University 3 (16 points from 2 matches) and Consett 3 (17 from 4) also remain winless.
Ladies Division 1:
This is a single division of all 9 teams in the first half, splitting into two divisions of 5 and 4 teams respectively after the break.
Northumberland Ladies and defending champions Northern Ladies 1 have both made strong starts to the season and remain unbeaten after 4 matches, Northumberland on 77 points, 2 ahead of Northern 1. The two teams meet on 30th November at Jesmond in a match which will be crucial in shaping the title race.
Newcastle University Ladies, whose only defeat so far was to Northern Ladies 1, are well-placed in 3rd on 61 points from 4 matches. No other team appears to be in title contention at this stage, with Tynemouth Ladies 1 surprisingly languishing at the bottom of the table on 5 points after 2 defeats from 2 matches, albeit both against the top teams. Primrose Ladies and Northern Ladies 3 are also winless so far on 5 and 17 points respectively from their first 3 matches.
Tynemouth Ladies 2’s 4-1 (17-5) win over Northumbria University Ladies this week could prove significant in the battle for 5th place to retain Division 1 status at halfway.