Wiltshire won the West Country’s bragging rights and a place in the knockout stage of the national men’s inter-county championship when they secured an impressive 129-115 away win over their Somerset rivals at North Petherton at the weekend.
Both counties were unbeaten in their group, and had their sights set on winning the Middleton Cup – but it was the Moonrakers’ greater experience that told.
With rink honours shared, three apiece, it was the scale of Wiltshire’s wins that made the difference – plus the fact that they nullified the match-winning potential of the Somerset rinks skipped by England duo John Hick and Louis Ridout.
Hick, from Clevedon, was always in trouble against Russell Francis, who played for Somerset indoors last winter, but grabbed a lifeline when he scored a magnificent count of seven shots on the 11th end.
Somerset hearts sank when Francis responded with a sensational sequence, carding a six, a four and another six on successive ends, before going on to win, 33-16.
Ridout, the 2011 Young Bowler of the Year, from Ilminster, was up against Westlecot’s wily veteran Mel Biggs, who made his England debut in 1987 – and, on the day, it was a victory for experience over youth. Biggs won 28-16.
With England star Graham Shadwell returning a 23-13 card against Nick Pearce, Wiltshire had built up a 39 shots advantage on three rinks, putting Somerset’s other three rinks under considerable pressure.
“It was a disappointing situation to be in, but there was some good news from the rinks skipped by Neil Williams, Phil Downs and Neil Kunc,” said Somerset chief Don Fowkes.
Williams beat Michael Snell, 27-13, Downs finished 25-17 ahead of Neil Smith, and Kunc downed Mike Jackson, 18-15, but it was not enough to stop Wiltshire winning by 14 shots overall, and grabbing a place in the national quarter-finals.
Gloucestershire, who made a dire start to the 2012 season, losing heavily to Wiltshire and Dorset, were pleased with their 124-104 win over Herefordshire at Barnwood, where they blooded young Chris Davis at skip.
Davis rewarded the selectors’ confidence with a 25-19 win over world indoor junior champion Shaun Jones, but Gloucestershire’s biggest wins came from the rinks skipped by Lee Williamson and Paul Bryant, who won 33-13 and 28-11 respectively.
Wiltshire, who beat Somerset in the Middleton and the Johns Trophy, were delighted to make it a treble when they notched up a 41-34 win in the women’s Two Fours Walker Cup at Box on Sunday.
The home club duo Alex Jacobs and Carol Grenfell skipped their rinks to wins of 21-20 and 20-14 respectively.
In the same competition, Gloucestershire’s women received an unexpected mauling from Herefordshire, who won overall by 49 shots to 24.
Stef Branfield, the 22-year-old Clevedon star, who made her senior England debut in Bangor in Northern Ireland last week, claimed she was neither nervous nor excited about stepping on to the green to represent her country.
“It’s just a game of bowls,” she said, before helping Torquay’s Commonwealth Games singles champion Natalie Melmore to a 19-15 win over Ireland in the opening match of the women’s home international series.
Melmore’s rink were unlucky to lose by one shot against Scotland, but England’s performance overall was extremely disappointing, and a major reshuffle was made in an attempt to revive the team’s fortunes.
Branfield was moved from second on Melmore’s rink to play third to another Commonwealth Games gold medallist Amy Gowshall, who had lost her opening games heavily. The move paid off, and with Branfield making a real difference, Gowshall powered to wins of 28-6 and 20-12 against Jersey and Wales, so that England, who had looked out-of-sorts, were able to finish in third place, behind Scotland and Wales.
The equivalent men’s event gets underway tomorrow in Llandrindod Wells, where Wiltshire’s Graham Shadwell and Somerset duo John Hick and Louis Ridout will be representing England in the international series.
The series itself will be played on Saturday and Sunday, after the British individual championships, involving the champions of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Guernsey and Jersey, have been completed.
Durham’s David Bolt carries England’s hopes in the singles, while Jamie Walker, from Wellingborough bids for the under 25 singles title, and Worcester’s Dean Hemming and Rob Stanley are in the pairs.
A Bideford trio skipped by Steve Bonetta have their sights set on the British triples title.
Gloucestershire’s win last weekend over Herefordshire in the Middleton Cup was timely, to say the least, raising morale in the county after Gloucestershire’s indoor secretary Derek Severs painted a bleak picture at the GIBA AGM.
“We just about survived the winter of 2011/2012, but it was quite a struggle,” Severs reported. “The association has been kept afloat by a small nucleus of the executive while the search went on for a president, senior vice president and junior vice president.”
With six clubs in membership, the GIBA was sad to learn that the future of the very viable Yate indoor bowls club was under threat, because the Circadian Trust, which manages five leisure centres in South Gloucestershire, proposed to close the bowls hall at Yate and move the facility to Thornbury.
“Yate’s members were understandably up-in-arms about the threatened closure, and we made our concerns known to the Trust, but I fear they had made up their minds,” says Severs.
“Sadly, last winter, we were unable to participate in the Liberty Trophy, but we have registered for next season, and are scheduled to play Worcestershire on November 10, so we need to find someone to manage the team,” he adds.
A convincing victory for Clevedon Promenade over their more distinguished neighbours from the club at the top of Chapel Hill has rocketed the seasiders into top spot in the Co-operative Funeralcare Clevedon & District league.
Bristol A are in pole position in the Bristol & District League Division One with 59 points from eight outings, just five points ahead of their nearest rivals, G B Britton A, and eight points better off than third-placed Greenbank.
British women’s individual championships at Bangor (NI), Singles:- Quarter final: S Dingle (Jer) bt Y Veitch (Sco) 21-16. Semi-finals: C Taylor (Wal) bt M Cunningham (Ire) 21-14; E Falkner (Eng) bt Dingle 21-12. Final: Falkner bt Taylor 21-4. Pairs Quarter final: C & A Gowshall (Eng) bt W Price & B Morgan (Wal) 26-15. Semi finals: G O’Neill & Karina Bisson (Jer) bt L & L Baillie (Sco) 25-12; Gowshall & Gowshall bt C McQuade & C O’Gorman (Ire) 29-10. Final: Gowshall & Gowshall bt O’Neill & Bisson 19-11. Triples, quarter-final: B McGleenan, M McGrath, A McKiver (Ire) bt J Thomson, J Bell, S Spalding (Sco) 21-15. Semi-finals: K Blaney, C Hewlings, A Lewis (Wal) bt J Gregory, J Le Quesne, S Noel (Jer) 24-12; S Tolchard, R Rogers, N Melmore (Eng) bt Ireland 24-7. Final: England bt Wales 16-13. Fours Quarter final: D Canavan, F Le Motte, A Richardson, A Camacho (Jer) bt M Reid, J Sutton, K McHaffie, S Kelly (Sco) 24-9. Semi- final: R Jones, C James, M Rees, A Butten (Wal) bt C Eadie, P Smyth, K Woodside, S Bailie (Ire) 19-18; T Dent, K Cox, C & A Gowshall (Eng) bt Jersey 19-6. Final: England bt Wales 24-23 (after extra end).
Women’s home international series in Bangor (NI): Ireland bt England 117-110 – Rink scores (Ireland skips first): P Montgomery 23, A Gowshall 11; C O’Gorman 14, S Gordon 30; S Bailie 25, E Falkner 18; D McCloy 26, P Strong 8; J Dowds 14, W King 24; S J Coleman 15, N Melmore 15. Scotland bt Jersey 151-90 – Rink scores (Scotland skips first): M Letham 25, L Cole 13; L Smith 28, K Bisson 9; C Brown 24, C Grimes 16; L Stein 35, J Renouf 14; A Uttley 23, H Greechan 20; S Douglas 16, S Dingle 18. Scotland bt Ireland 153-90 – Rink scores (Scotland skips first): Smith 27, O’Gorman 18; Brown 21, Bailie 18; Stein 31, McCloy 6; L Baillie 29, Coleman 17; Letham 25, Montgomery 15. Wales bt Jersey 138-96 – Rink scores (Wales skips first): C Hewlings 18, Bisson 22; K Pearce 21, Grimes 9; A Butten 27, Renouf 12; I Jones 22, Greechan 21; W Price 22, Dingle 21; J Wason 28, Cole 11. Scotland bt England 129-108 – Rink scores (Scotland skips first): Brown 17, Falkner 18; Stein 27, Strong 13; Uttley 17, King 25; Baillie 21, Melmore 20; Letham 25, Gowshall 14; Smith 22, Gordon 18. Wales bt Ireland 114-100 – Rink scores (Wales skips first): Pearce 23, Bailie 16; Butten 21, McCloy 14; Jones 25, Dowds 14; Price 20, Coleman 13; Wason 11, Montgomery 23; Hewlings 14, O’Gorman 20. England bt Jersey 139-82 – Rink scores (Eng skips first): Strong 31, Renouf 12; King 16, Greechan 18; Melmore 30, Dingle 16; Gowshall 28, Cole 6; Gordon 13, Bisson 20; Falkner 21, Grimes 10. Wales bt Scotland 139-94 – Rink scores (Wales skips first): Butten 18, Stein 21; Jones 20, Uttley 18; Price 30, Baillie 15; Wason 25, Letham 11; Hewlings 19, Smith16; Pearce 27, Brown 13. England bt Wales 120-102 – Rink scores (England skips first): King 28, Jones 9; Melmore 16, Price 16; Gowshall 20, Wason 12; Gordon 18, Hewlings 28; Falkner 22, Pearce 17; Strong 16, Butten 20. Ireland bt Jersey 129-100 – Rink scores (skips first):Dowds 23, Greechan 16; Coleman 22, Dingle 15; Montgomery 23, Cole 9; O’Gorman 20, Bisson 20; Bailie 26, Grimes 25; McCloy 15, Renouf 15. Finals standings: 1 Scotland 6pts (+100 shots); 2Wales 6 (+84); 3 England 4 (+47); Ireland 4 (-41); 5 Jersey 0 (-190).
Bowls England men’s inter-county Six Fours (Middleton Cup):- At North Petherton: Wiltshire bt Somerset 129-115 – Rink scores (Wilts skips first): R Francis 33, J Hick 16;M Jackson 15, N Kunc 18; G Shadwell 23, N Pearce 13; N Smith 17, P Downs 25; M Snell 13, N Williams 27; M Biggs 28, L Ridout 16. At Barnwood: Glos bt Herefs 124-104 (16-6) – Rink scores (Glos skips first): L Williamson 33, R Bithell 13; D Howes 15, M Ricketts 21; C Davis 25, S Jones 19; P Bryant 28, P Middleton 11; J Roach 13, M Griffiths 17; R Griffiths 10, L Harwood 23. At Culm Vale: Cornwall bt Worcestershire 128-102 (20-2): – Rink scores (Corn skips first): N Coad 20, D Hemming 19; A Hawke 24, A McWhinnie 22; T Phillips 16, R Stanley 19; I Drew 25, R McCaughtrie 13; I Ball 24, I Jenkins 14; D Roe 19, G Burgess 15. Other results: Kent bt Oxon 119-110 (18-4); Sussex bt Middx 135-97 (22-0); Herts bt Suffolk 130-115 (18-4); Leics bt Cambs 127-102 (16-6).
Bowls England women’s inter-county championship (Johns Trophy), At Bridport: Devon bt Dorset 140-98 (16-6) – Rink scores (Devon skips first): S Evans 22, S Willis 23; N Payne 14, F Yates 21; N Melmore 32, P Cresswell 7; L Smerdon 30, J Leake 16; T Thomas 15, R Spetch 20; S Parnell 27, J Andrews 11. Others: Surrey bt Sussex 114-109 (18-4); Oxon bt Bucks 132-88 (20-2); Beds bt Leics 119-102 (18-4); Northants bt Hunts 119-104 (19-3); Essex bt Cambs 115-114 (16-6).
Bowls England women’s Two Fours championship (Walker Cup), at Eastnor: Herefordshire bt Glos 49-24 (Herefs skips first): B Griffiths 25, J Sheward 12; V Pedlingham 14, S Latham 12. At Box: Wiltshire bt Somerset 41-34 (Wilts first): A Jacobs 21, J Young 20; C Grenfell 20, J Walmsley 14.
County teams – Johns Trophy, Somerset v Gloucs at Yeovil (June 30): Som team:- Rink 1: L Holden, S Bird, P Kingston, S Branfield. Rink 2: K Holmes, M Burton, E Amery, J Young. Rink 3: J Staunton, C Ball, J Hocking, J Walmsley. Rink 4: A Watkins, J Tibbs, A Goacher, K Hembrow. Rink 5: R McMillan, P Barnbrook, L Palmer, M Monkton. Rink 6: P Dando, E Deverill, M Sutton, M Dyer. Res: C Whitmarsh, J Jenkins, S Cooper, M Noddings, M Stock, S Davies.
Glos team Rink 1: R Winter-Alsop, M Savage, J Sheward, C Winter-Alsop. Rink 2: S Rolls, D Wilson, A White, P Marsh. Rink 3: J Hunt, S Osborne, J Ind, R Hughes. Rink 4: S Merrick, V Ritchie, J Howes, M Hale. Rink 5: V Molton, P Salvage, V Osmond, S Latham. Rink 6: I Bird, J Crook, K Gent, P Gunn. Res: A Leach, S Haberfield, R Draisey, L Collin.
County matches – at Pewsey: Berks women bt Wilts 131-106 (Berks skips first): B Reed 19, T Jarrett 22; H Shepherd 33, J Lewis 8; C Waters 18, B Salter 11; J Lyons-Hill 23, J Corbett 33; M Parkinson 20, M Cottle 11; S Young 18, E Tape 20. At Totland: Isle of Wight bt Wiltshire 143-94 (IoW skips first): A King 16, T Wilkins 22; D Stevens 23, D Laws 17; P Green 22, W Collier 15; B Rodwell 31, S Jay 7; T Hendey 24, G Henderson 26; P Barker 27, S Gedge 8. At Cardiff: South Glamorgan bt Gloucestershire 119-105 (S Glam skips first): B Smith 17, B Newman 26; J Faux 14, J Parry 17; A Thompson 16, A Browett 16; A Ocoer 20, J Waite 19; B Harris 25, D Hopkins 15; A Blackmore 27, R Powell 12. At Frampton-on-Severn: Glos women bt Herefs 119-112 (Glos skips first): I Hart 30, J Bowen 16; L Collin 23, J Cole 11; M Hale 18, V Pedlingham 15; C Winter-Alsop 22, O Goodwin 20; K Sealey 12, B Warburton 21; A Watton 16, J Murray 27.
North East Bristol League – Div 1: Bristol Greenbank bt Avonvale 70-41 (10-0); Bristol St George bt G B Britton A 57-40 (8-2); St Anne’s Park bt Olveston A 28-24 (8-2). Div 2: Eastvillians bt Page Park B 48-32 (10-0); BAC bt Redland Green 47-37 (9-1); Olveston B bt Page Park B 34-27 (10-0); Whitehall bt G B Britton B 62-44 (8-2).
Bristol & District League – Div 1: Bristol St Andrews bt Knowle B 74-33 (10-0); Yate A bt Willmott Park 51-39 (9-1); BAC bt Redland Green 50-47 (8-2). Div 2: Ardagh bt Imperial 31-22 (7-3); Avonmouth bt Bristol Arrow 43.8-43 (6-4); Henleaze A bt St Anne’s Park 44-13 (10-0); Bristol B bt Avonvale 46-42 (7-3). Div 3: Greenbank B bt City & Port of Bristol 46-40 (7-3); Olveston bt Canford 55-29 (9-1). Division 4: Knowle C bt St Andrew’s Park 49-38 (8-2).
Co-operative Funeralcare Clevedon & District League: Clevedon Prom bt Clevedon 121-81 (8½-½); Portishead RBL bt Congresbury 126-67 (8-1); West Backwell bt Portishead 100-66 (6-2); Winscombe bt Long Ashton 80-67 (6½-1½); Nailsea bt Yatton 116-72 (8-1).