Bristol narrowly missed out on national glory last week when Ros Constant and Chris Keating were pipped by one shot in the final of the All-England mixed pairs championship in Northampton.
Constant, whose husband David is the well-known former cricket umpire, and Keating, a 27-year-old Bristol-based Welsh international, beat a confident path to the semi-finals, defeating Plymouth husband-and-wife duo Hilary and Mike Avent 21-13 and a pair from Northampton 18-16.
They then faced a formidable pair from Sussex, Lorraine Kuhler and David Hubbard, both internationals, and sent them on their way, 23-10, but had to fight hard in the semi-finals against another hotly-tipped duo, Catherine and Stuart Popple, from the City of Ely.
In a tense but sporting match that could have gone either way, Constant and Keating got their noses in front at the right time and were happy to be 18-17 ahead after the allotted 21 ends.
In the final, the Bristolians were slow to start against two 22-year-olds from York, Zoe Eagles and Adam Liddell, who had helped England retain the British men’s and women’s team titles the previous week.
Coincidentally, Eagles and Liddell had celebrated their 22nd birthdays on Sunday and Monday respectively, and here they were on Wednesday, forging into a 15-5 lead – whereupon Constant and Keating dug in their heels and clawed back to 15-14.
“We actually scored a six on one end, and we went into the last end two adrift at 17-15,” recalled Constant.
“I held three shots, and Chris was unlucky to move the jack a few inches, and reduced it to one – but he soon drew another so we were holding two again.”
With his last delivery, Keating, attempting to draw a third for a championship lie, touched his own second bowl, moving it fractionally, and when the umpire was called to measure, the Bristol pair had to settle for one shot, and the York pair squeaked home by 17-16.
“It was very disappointing, but we did well to reach the final, and we beat some heavyweight pairs on the way,” said Constant. “I think we can be really proud of our efforts.”
West Country bowlers reached two more finals, with Christie Miller trio Chris Easton, Nigel Price and Andy Moore going for gold in the men’s over-50 triples, and Wendy Merchant, Sue Evans and Di Routley, from Taunton Deane, in the final of the equivalent event for women.
Christie Miller defeated Beccles 24-13 and Risbygate 25-13 on their way to the semi-finals, where they scraped through on an extra end 13-12 against Slade, but they dropped five shots on the first end of the final, and, despite a massive fightback, went down 18-16 to Gordon Charlton’s Folkestone trio.
Taunton Deane opened with a 14-12 win over Palmerston, then reached the semi-finals with an 18-9 win over Barwell and received a big confidence boost when they overwhelmed Atherley 20-7.
Taking an early lead in the final, the Deane trio were outplayed mid-game, and it was a Cambridge Chesterton team skipped by Catherine Locking who won the coveted title with a 17-10 victory.
You have broken your right arm, but you have been chosen to play for Bristol against Jersey at bowls. What do you do? You turn up, play left-handed and help your triples team to a 9-1, 1-4, 2-0 victory!
Ernie Karthauser, who did just that last week, was, at seven years old, Bristol’s youngest player in an historic clash with the well-drilled Channel Islanders, whose skill and enthusiasm inspired the local youngsters, who are hoping for a return match next year.
Playing singles, pairs, triples and fours on a sets format, Jersey’s young stars, whose ages ranged from six to seventeen, won fourteen matches and lost only five, but it was a valuable learning experience for the Bristolians.
Prominent in the Jersey team were brother-and-sister Taylor, who is only six, and Chloe Greechan, 12, whose mother Lindsey, is a former world junior champion, and whose dad Tommy won the world outdoor Champion of Champions title in Hong Kong in 2011.
Jersey captain Ryan Videgrain, who was presented with the inaugural Bristol and Jersey Cup, confessed he will be too old to play for the juniors next year, but promised to be there to cheer on his team-mates if the Bristol team visit Jersey.
Bristol club chairman Lewis Toman said: “It was a great opportunity for our juniors to experience tournament play for the first time – and it was the first-ever tournament of its kind to be held at the club. We hope it will act as a catalyst for more juniors to join, and, if any young people aged between seven and seventeen think they might enjoy the sport of indoor bowls, we would certainly love to see them.”
Anyone in that age range who would like to try the sport should contact the club (01179 633460) – or just turn up at the club at 198 South Liberty Lane, Ashton Vale, for a Saturday morning session that lasts from 10am to midday.
Although he made his name with the Exonia club in Exeter, Somerset will be quick to claim the services of Rob Paxton, if, as widely anticipated, he decides to throw his lot in with Taunton Deane next winter.
Having married a ‘local girl’, Louise, Paxton is already living in Taunton, and has joined the Deane club – but he is likely to retain his links with Exonia, and will probably play for Devon in the Middleton Cup next summer.
Indoors is a different matter, however, and his skill at drawing and driving, and his tactical ability at skip, would be a valuable asset to Somerset in the Liberty Trophy.
After several years ‘knocking at the door’ as a member of the Professional Bowls Association, Paxton has recently established himself in the World Bowls Tour top sixteen, and has guaranteed himself entry to all the WBT ranking events.
Indeed, when the current rankings were announced last week, it emerged that Somerset’s ‘new recruit’ has moved up from tenth in the world to third – thanks to his performances on the portable rink this winter.
Last November, he reached the semi-finals of the Scottish International Open in Perth, and he was a beaten quarter- finalist in last month’s world indoor singles championship at Potters Leisure Resort before powering into the final of the International Open that took the place of the Welsh Grand Prix in Blackpool this month.
Paul Foster has regained his position at the top of the rankings, while another Scot, David Gourlay, is in second place, ahead of Paxton.
Yet another Scot, Alex Marshall, who beat Paxton in the final of the event at Blackpool, has moved up from 13th to sixth.
World Bowls Tour rankings – for next winter season: 1 Paul Foster (Scotland); 2 David Gourlay (Scotland); 3 Rob Paxton (England); 4= Andy Thomson (England); 4= Mervyn King (England); 6 Alex Marshall (Scotland); 7=Darren Burnett (Scotland); 7= Greg Harlow (England); 9 Mark Royal (England); 10 Nick Brett (England); 11 Stewart Anderson (Scotland); 12 John Price (Wales); 13= Jason Greenslade (Wales); 13= Jonathan Ross (Scotland); 15 Simon Skelton (England); 16 Robert Weale (Wales); 17 Colin Walker (Scotland); 18 Wayne Hogg (Scotland); 19 Rob Chisholm (Wales); 20= Brett Arkley (England); 20= Tim Stone (England); 22 Billy Jackson (England); 23 Jamie Chestney (England); 24= Mark Dawes (England); 24= Pat Briscoe (England).
EIBA national championships – Phase One at Northampton – Mixed pairs, first round: L Pessell & C Grocott (Shrewsbury) bt J Howe & M Rumball (Mid Suffolk) 21-15; A Harrison & G Charlton (Folkestone) bt C Venn & B Forse (St Andrews) 16-15; C & S Popple (City of Ely) bt J & G Skipp (Hartlepool) 25-13; K Jones & A Knapper (Desborough, M) bt S & S Tolchard (Torquay United) 22-11; R Constant & C Keating (Bristol) bt H & M Avent (Plymouth) 21-13; M Oram & C Bland (Northampton) bt A Lennie & M Cooper (West Denton) 23-18; L Kuhler & D Hubbard (Adur) bt C & M Tomlin (Boston) 21-18; J Stewart & S Beavis (Falcon) bt T Knights & M Todd (Beccles) 25-18; L & N Smith (Westlecot) bt B Lewis & C Moore (Barwell) 20-18; S Howick & S Tuohy (Egham) bt V & D Forster (Copeland) 23-22; R & M Holden (Chawton Park) bt S Page & T Webb (Riverain) 18-13; P Dickinson & G Allen (Isle of Wight) w/o, J Copp & J Holmes (Barking) scr; A Williams & C Cook (Moonfleet 2000) bt C & M Smith (Lincoln) 29-25; R Field & W Willgress (Norfolk) bt J Cogle & D Hanmore (Angel, Tonbridge) 22-17; P Bourne & A Howick (Croydon) bt J Eames & D Tomlinson (South Forest) 23-14; Z Eagles & A Liddell (York) bt S Hill & A Cawdell (Glebelands) 19-6. Last 16: Folkestone bt Shrewsbury 19-11; City of Ely bt Desborough 20-14; Bristol bt Northampton 18-16; Adur bt Falcon 19-18; Westlecot bt Egham 25-16 (18); Chawton Park bt Isle of Wight 23-14; Norfolk bt Moonfleet 2000 25-4 (10); York bt Croydon 25-0 (10). Quarter-finals: City of Ely bt Folkestone 25-21; Bristol bt Adur 23-10; Chawton Park bt Westlecot 22-15; York bt Norfolk 24-8. Semi finals: Bristol bt City of Ely 18-17; York bt Chawton Park 24-12 (18). Final: York bt Bristol 17-16.
Women’s over-50 triples – Last 16: Cambridge Chesterton (C Locking) bt Spalding (G Haney) 18-12; Torquay United (C Alcock, R Rogers, B Bellamy) bt Ipswich (S Utteridge) 20-10; Angel, Tonbridge (J Cogle) bt Watford (C Brown) 16-11; Hounslow (A Halliday) bt Westlecot (D Woodley, S Wells, E Bolland) 20-19; Atherley (W Line) bt Egham (P Clark) 18-16 (aee); Norfolk (K Carrick) bt The Parks (M Paton) 17-15; Taunton Deane (W Merchant, S Evans, D Routley) bt Palmerston (V Bramble) 14-12; Barwell (P Sutton) bt York (H Walker) 21-12. Quarter-finals: Cambridge Chesterton bt Torquay United 21-6; Angel (Tonbridge) bt Hounslow 14-13; Atherley bt Norfolk 21-11; Taunton Deane bt Barwell 18-9. Semi-finals: Cambridge Chesterton bt Angel (Tonbridge) 16-15; Taunton Deane bt Atherley 20-7. Final: Cambridge Chesterton bt Taunton Deane 17-10.
Men’s over-50 triples – Last 16: Wellingborough (M Cooper) bt Horncastle (P Bark) 16-10; Slade (D Savage) w/o, Torquay United (L Roberts, J C Evans, D Denison) scr; Christie Miller (C Easton, N Price, A Moore) bt Beccles (D Wood) 24-13; Risbygate (M Bowen) bt Redcar (P Stoker) 19-18; Nottingham (P Dickens) bt Gateshead (G Hackett) 20-16; Falaise (K Cheetham) bt Cyphers (M Sekjer) 20-5; Yeovil (M Tritton, B Dyer, B McCoombes bt Cotswold (M Mayhew, J Tombs, T Griffiths) 21-17; Folkestone (G Charlton) bt Barking (M Wilson) 21-14. Quarter-finals: Slade bt Wellingborough 19-8; Christie Miller bt Risbygate 25-13; Falaise bt Nottingham 22-17; Folkestone bt Yeovil 20-15. Semi-finals: Christie Miller bt Slade 13-12 (aee); Folkestone bt Falaise 18-17. Final: Folkestone bt Christie Miller 18-16.
Women’s over-60 inter-club semi- finals: Spalding bt Riverain 40-35 – Rink scores (Spalding skips first): G Haney 23, S Page 18; S Wade, 17, J Ralph 17. Croydon bt Thornbury 47-33 – Rink scores (Croydon skips first): C Ware 17, V Osmond 20; C Cuell 30, C Winter-Alsop 13. Final: Spalding bt Croydon 38-30 (Spalding first): Haney 20, Ware 12; Wade 18, Cuell 18.
Men’s over-60 inter-club semi-finals: Lincoln bt Barking 52-18 – Rink scores (Lincoln skips listed first): M Smith 18, T Hughes 13; D Nicholson 34, B Nelson 5. West Berks bt Banister Park 42-31 – Rink scores (West Berks names first): D Parsonson 15, G Standley 23; A Steele 27, D Graydon 18. Final: Lincoln bt West Berks 37-38 (Lincoln skips listed first): Smith 24, Parsonson 16; Nicholson 13, Steele 20.
EIBA national championships – Phase Two at Melton Mowbray, women’s pairs (February 28-March 2) first rd: York v The Parks; Wellingborough v Dorchester (R Gwatkin & A Hallett); Malvern Hills (V Pedlingham & A Stanton) v Hounslow; City of Ely v Torquay United; Lincoln v Chigwell; Croydon v Blackpool NH; Swale v Tilbury; Victory v Preston; Foxhill v Nottingham; Ipswich v Egham; Hatfield v Bournemouth; Barwell v Plymouth; Spalding v Bromsgrove; Taunton Deane (J Dezille & D Routley) v Diss; North Wilts (S Cooke & A Jacobs) v Dartford Stone Lodge; Hartlepool v Norfolk.
Women’s triples (February 24-26 ) first round: Ipswich v Desborough (M); Wey Valley v Sleaford; Barwell v Dorchester (E & B Follis, A Hallett); Selby v White Oak; Cumbria v Norfolk; Durham v Hounslow; Egerton Park v Lincoln; Ilminster (D Whelan, A Watkins, J Checketts) v Swale; Madeira (C Macauley, L Smerdon, S Harriott) v Croydon; Caradon v Beccles; Bournemouth v Tilbury; Bromsgrove v Redcar; Riverain v Tye Green; Arun v Wellingborough; Alfreton v Clevedon (S Short, C Pearce, M Dyer); Leominster v Huntingdon.
Women’s fours (February 22-23) – last 16: Portsmouth Victory v Minehead (H May, S Paul, E Amery, P Morgan); City of Ely v Torquay United (C Lenton, R Rogers, S Tolchard, B Bellamy); Ipswich v Norfolk; Angel v York; Durham v Nottingham; Egham v Welford; Dolphin v Oxford & Dist; Tye Green v Boston.
International Junior Challenge at Bristol – Jersey bt Bristol 14-5 (Jersey names first) Singles: R Videgrain bt R White 7-2, 5-1; C Greechan bt B Beams 3-7, 5-3, 2-0; J Brown lost to A Sparey 4-7, 7-5, 0-2; B Le Feuvre bt C Gwinnell 5-4, 6-2; L Scarratt lost to M Bartlett 3-4, 0-5; J Draisey bt B Cox 4-3, 4-5, 2-1. Pairs: L Scarratt & L White bt R White & L Kelly 8-5, 4-2; J Brown & K Videgrain lost to M Bartlett & B Cox 4-1, 2-3, 0-2; J Draisey & K Kavanagh lost to C Gwinnell & B Kelly 0-13, 4-4; B Le Feuvre & C Brown bt Ashley Sparey & J Nelson 5-4, 9-1; C Greechan & H Chapman bt J Thorley & M Rawlings 5-3, 3-0; R Videgrain & T Greechan bt Adam Sparey & R Thorley 7-6, 6-5. Triples: Scarratt, Kavanagh, Chapman lost to Beams, Nelson, Karthauser 1-9, 5-0, 2-0; Greechan, Brown, White bt Bartlett, Kelly, Thorley 13-5, 11-0; Videgrain, Draisey, Brown bt Gwinnell, Thorley, Kelly 11-2, 10-0; Le Feuvre, Videgrain, Greechan bt Sparey, Simmonds, Rawlings 5-2, 8-2. Fours: Le Feuvre & Co bt Sparey & Co 8-1, 11-2; Greechan & Co bt Beams & Co 6-3, 5-3; Videgrain bt White 4-3, 4-4.