Halifax club Queens finished sixth - a mammoth 108 points behind winners Dunnington - last season, but ended the season strongly with six wins from seven. They’ve carried that form into this campaign, thrashing Chapel Allerton 2 by 5-0 on Wednesday night for a second straight win.
Danny Bray and England coach David Campion started the rout, and the win was sealed by 20-year-old Lancastrian Charlie Cowie, who smashed Chapel A’s No.3 Cameron Ward.
With the match sewn up, the Halifax club’s top order showed no mercy with James Earles also winning in straight games, then world No.192 Connor Sheen was at least stretched to five games by Chapel Allerton 2’s captain Dominic Hamilton, taking it 11/6 in the decider.
Hull, who finished second from bottom last season, followed up their opening-round win at Pontefract 1 by taking care of their stablemates Pontefract 2 this week and now sit one point off top spot.
The night had started well for Ponte’s seconds when Ben Beachill, the 14-year-old son of former world No 1 Lee, beat the hosts’ Mike Read in an absolute epic which he clinched 19/17 in the fifth game.
Hull took over from there though, with fourth string Paul Norton winning in straight games and 19-year-old Yusef Forster eclipsing club stalwart Billy Hawes in five.
Teenagers Ben Sockett and Ben Smith finished things off at the top of the order and the East Yorkshire side will make the trip to 2016/17 champions Chapel Allerton 1 next week with morale sky high.
Defending champions Dunnington are the only other side to win both of their opening encounters. Chris Simpson returned from Philadelphia following his exit from the US Open and was taken to five games by Hallamshire’s young top string Nick Wall before winning the decider 11/0.
The match had been poised at 2-2 before that point as Benjamin Cross and Danny Hockborn both claimed victories for the York club, while the visitors from Sheffield were triumphant through highly promising youngster Oscar Beach and second strong Harry Falconer.
The aforementioned Chapel Allerton 1 visited Pontefract 1 and went down 4-1. Youngster Ben Merchant won an error-strewn battle with Sam Wileman at No.5 but that proved to be Chapel A’s only victory of the evening.
Ponte legends Alex Hodgetts and Lewis Doughty were both winners and world No.334 Taminder Gata Aura won a lengthy duel with Joe Williams 13/11 in the fifth after saving match ball. World No.93 Patrick Rooney rounded off a solid night’s work for the hosts by beating Chapel A 1 top string Mark Fuller in three tight games.
Barnsley made the short trip to Sheffield and returned with a breezy 4-1 over Abbeydale. Oliver Harris won in rapid fashion before Paul Broadberry, Tom Bamford and world No.161 Stuart MacGregor all won in four games.
Although the result was already decided, Adam Auckland and Miles Jenkins enjoyed a corker of a final game which the home side’s 25-year-old No.1 clinched 12/10 in the deciding fifth.