Somerset’s men are celebrating again after making a confident start to this winter’s Liberty Trophy campaign, while there were ‘positives’ for Wiltshire and Gloucestershire to take from their defeats at the weekend.
Don Fowkes’s Green Army, who were runners up in the national inter-county championship in 2011 and 2012, got their bid for 2013 honours on track with a 129-101 win over the Moonrakers at North Wilts, while Gloucestershire’s return to the Liberty Trophy scene saw them go down to Worcestershire at Bromsgrove, 132-104.
Having already introduced some new caps, Fowkes was forced to make two more changes to his side, bringing in experienced duo Pete Birmingham and Steve Withers to cover the absence of Barrie Smith, who was unwell, and Jason Sparkes, who had work commitments.
“Despite that, we made a fantastic start,” reports Fowkes. “We were off to a real flier, scoring 11 shots without reply across the green on the first end – but the home side hit back to score ten shots over the six rinks on the very next end!”
An experimental Wiltshire side settled to a good game, and gave a good account of themselves, though Somerset always seemed to have the edge, and a couple of big counts – a six and a five – towards the end boosted the visitors’ cause.
One bowl from Somerset skip Terry Perkins, who trailed 6-13, and faced a count of five shots on the 10th end, made a big difference to the balance of power. Drawing the shot to the brink of the ditch, Perkins lifted Somerset’s spirits across the green.
“At times it was too close for comfort, but we held on to win by 28 shots, and it was pleasing that, in the end, we won on all six rinks, which I believe shows we have a really well balanced side,” added Fowkes.
“The two new caps, Reece Williams, from Street, who is only 18, and 20-year-old Steve Smith, a Welsh junior international, settled in well, and clearly have a bright future in bowls,” he added.
Graham Shadwell, who is flying off to Adelaide this week for the world outdoor championships, skipped his rink to a 23-13 win over Neil Smith’s quartet, while Paul Bryant was not far behind with a 24-15 victory over Nick Revell’s young Five Rivers combo.
Chris Keating won by four, Perkins and Russell Francis by two apiece, and Andy Colebrooke edged home by the narrowest of margins, setting Somerset up for an encounter with Worcestershire on 24 November.
Neil Smith, making his debut as Wiltshire’s team manager, was not dismayed by the result, and praised the effort put in by his players.
“It was a pretty good effort by my lads,” said Smith.
“I’m really proud that we were in the game for the first two-and-a-half hours or so – but Somerset showed what a good team they are with a really strong finish on all rinks.”
Worcestershire took Gloucestershire to the Bromsgrove club, which was flooded earlier in the year, and which has a brand new carpet that proved a shade too slow for the liking of the visitors, who fielded five new caps and five members of the county’s under 25 side.
“We were beaten by the new carpet, because you had to give it that extra yard,” said Gloucestershire team manager Keith Bedford. “Most of their players play out of Bromsgrove, so had a bit more knowledge about the carpet.”
However, Bedford was pleased to report two winning rinks, skipped by experienced duo Dave Howes and Keith Hinder, who won by nine and two shots respectively, while credit must be given to Neil Chandler’s quartet, who recovered from 3-19 at ten ends to lose by only four shots, 17-21.
“The umpire also had good things to say about two of your young prospects, Jack Daniels and Ben Coldrick, who acquitted themselves very well,” Bedford said.
Bedford clearly shares with Neil Smith the view that their teams have plenty of potential., and, although they have been knocked out this year, the managers of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire are clearly looking forward to returning to the battlefield next winter.
Rob Paxton is no longer delivering letters for Her Majesty’s Royal Mail, so we can no longer refer to him affectionately as ‘Postman Pax’ – but the 34-year-old Exeter star is still making first class deliveries on the green.
Last week, he made a gallant effort to become the first player to retain the World Bowls Tour Scottish International Open title in Perth – only to slip up in the semi- finals, when he was beaten by his England team-mate Nick Brett.
Brett, who was hoping to land his first Tour title, was duly outplayed in the final by Scotland’s world number two Paul Foster, who returned an 11-5, 9-7 card, and won a record eighth WBT ranking title.
Paxton, now married to a Taunton girl, is living in Somerset’s county town, and has joined Taunton Deane indoor club, arousing speculation that it is only a matter of time before he throws his lot in with Somerset.
In Hong Kong, where England’s Sandy Hazell won the Hong Kong International Classic women’s singles title last week, the focus switched to what they regard as ‘ the main event’ – the Classic Pairs, in which a gruelling schedule requires competitors to play 14 games in seven days.
Hazell, from Kent, and Dorset’s Julie Leake were beaten in the semi-finals of the women’s pairs, while Cornwall’s Mark Read and Berkshire’s Rob Newman suffered the same fate in the men’s.
Australia’s Matt Baus (rhymes with ‘house’) and Barrie Lester beat Ireland’s Mark McPeak and Graham McKee in the men’s final, while Welsh stars Kelly Packwood and Judith Wason won the women’s title.
Most of the talk on Sunday revolved around the way in which 12 ends were burnt and had to be replayed in the men’s final, which was scheduled to take around two-and-a-half hours to complete, but actually dragged on for four-and-a-half hours.
Should there be a time limit for matches? – Should jacks that leave the rink be re-spotted? – And could a Shot-Clock, like the one used in the Scottish International Open, be introduced to give players 30 seconds to play after their opponent’s bowl comes to rest, or lose their bowl?
Co-operative Funeralcare World Bowls Tour Scottish International Open in Perth – First round: S Anderson (Scotland) bt S Glen (Scotland) 9-7, 8-6; J Ross (Scotland) bt D Stafford (South Africa) 14-0, 10-1; D Burnett (Scotland) bt B Jackson (England) 9-2, 8-8; A E Thomson (England) bt R Duncan (Ireland) 4-10, 10-5, 2-1; M Royal (England) bt S Halmai (Australia) 8-6, 5-9, 2-1; K Jones (Canada) bt J Price (Wales) 7-6, 3-7, 2-1; N Brett (England) bt J Willgress (England) 7-6, 8-3; D Gourlay (Scotland) bt D Doubler (Wales) 9-5, 6-7, 2-1; T Stone (England) bt S Skelton (England) 9-3, 6-8, 2-0; J Greenslade (Wales) bt J Chestney (England) 7-8, 7-5, 2-1; M King (England) bt J Parkinson (England) 8-8, 9-6; R Chisholm (Wales) bt R Weale (Wales) 13-4, 1-10, 2-0; R Paxton (England) bt B Markus (Israel) 11-5, 12-2; P Foster (Scotland) bt W W Wood (Scotland) 11-3, 7-3; A Marshall (Scotland) bt K Wong (Hong Kong) 17-1, 13-1; G Harlow (England) bt C Slavich (Australia) 13-8, 12-3. Second round: Paxton bt Anderson 3-8, 10-9, 2-1; Marshall bt Thomson 2-8, 8-4, 2-0; Royal bt Jones 9-7, 10-2; Brett bt Gourlay 5-7, 10-1, 2-1; Foster bt Stone 7-5, 9-4; King bt Greenslade 6-8, 8-5, 2-1; Burnett bt Ross 9-6, 8-6; Chisholm bt Harlow 8-4, 9-7. Quarter- finals: Paxton bt Marshall 10-1, 8-9, 2-1; Brett bt Royal 7-7, 7-5; Foster bt King 2-11, 8-3, 2-1; Burnett bt Chisholm 5-9, 11-6, 2-0. Semi-finals: Brett bt Paxton 10-5, 8-7; Foster bt Burnett 6-4, 8-4. Final: Foster bt Brett 11-5, 9-7.
Hong Kong International Pairs Classic at Craigengower Cricket Club – Men’s quarter-finals: M Read & R Newman (England) bt & R Ho & H Lau (One Oasis, HK) 9-8, 8-3; I McLean & R Marshall (Scotland) bt B Signal & S Scott (NZ) 9-6, 8-4. Semi-finals: M McPeak & G McKee (Ireland) bt England 9-7, 8-8; M Baus & B Lester (Australia) bt Scotland 7-10, 15-6, 3-2. Final: Australia bt Ireland 10-5, 11-10. Women’s quarter-finals: J Leake & S Hazell (England) bt I Chow & H Wong (Hong Kong) 7-4, 9-9; A Johns & C Odgers (Australia) bt L Robertson & M Lam (Kowloon CC) 10-5, 11-2. Semi-finals: P Chan (Hong Kong) & N H Ismail (Malaysia) bt England 6-5, 8-6; K Packwood & J Wason (Wales) bt Australia) 13-6, 13-6. Final: Wales bt HK/Malaysia 8-7, 7-5.
National men’s inter-county championship (Liberty Trophy) – First round, at North Wilts: Somerset bt Wiltshire 129-101 – Rink scores (Somerset skips first): P Bryant 24, N Revell 15; T Perkins 24, A Moore 22; G Shadwell 23, N Smith 13; C Keating 25, T Walkley 21; A Colebrook, 16 W Snook 15; R Francis 17, I Jefferies 15. At Bournemouth: Dorset bt Cornwall 147-98 – Rink scores (Dorset skips first): D Nutman 33, A Hawke 15; A Tidby 28, T Phillips 18; D Ralph 14, I Drew 21; C Daniels 22, D Roe 16; M Puckett 23, N Coad 14; P Ward 27, D Drew. At Bromsgrove: Worcs bt Glos 132-104 – Rink scores (Worcs skips first): J Cracknell 21, N Chandler 17; G Burbridge 14, D Howes 23; G Roberts 23, S Knight 15; N Brereton 27, G Griffiths 20; R Atkins 26, N Holliday 10; J Weaver 17, K Hinder 19. Other results: Essex bt Hants 147-92; Berks bt Middx 129-115; Bucks bt Sussex 105-104; Surrey bt Kent 119-97; Devon bye; Suffolk bt Herts 145-85; Cambs bt Northants 125-103; Cumbria w/o, Northumb scr; Yorks bt Lincs 131-111; Norfolk bt Leics 116-107; Warks bt Beds 139-88; Durham bye.
National men’s under 25 inter-county Double Rink championship – Dorset bt Somerset 52-19 – Rink scores (Dorset names first): At Moonfleet: Marcus Smith, Chris Cook, Ryan Stone, Martin Puckett (Dorset) 29, Jack Groves, Sam Steel, Steve Smith, Aaron Poolman (Somerset) 11. At Taunton Deane: Robbie Ward, George Spracken, Dean Curtis, Nick Voss (Dorset) 23, Barney Green, Alex Shadwell, Reece Williams, Dale Taylor 8.
Gloucestershire bt Wiltshire at MidGlos – Rink scores (Glos names first):- Dan Sweet, Francis Bull, Adam Smith, Nathan Kitchen 14, Jordan Moody, David Leighfield, Tom Warner, Nick Revell 22; Jack Daniels, Alex White, Ben Coldrick, Stuart Munro 29, Mike Titcombe, Tom Pittuck, Max Clark, Wayne Snook 17.
National men’s inter-club championship (Denny Cup) 3rd rd draw (Nov 17): Wymondham Dell v Norfolk; Acle v Diss; Falcon v Ipswich; Tye Green v Barking; Lynnsport v City of Ely; Huntingdon v St Neots; Bromsgrove v Avon Valley; Wellingborough v Kingsthorpe; Stanley v Sunderland; Cumbria v Copeland; Redcar v Hartlepool; York v Featherstone; Skegness v Lincoln; Stamford v Spalding; Nottingham v Erewash; Rugby v Leicester; Desborough (M) v Oxford &C; Riverain v Herts; Bristol v Clarrie Dunbar; Malvern Hills v Cotswold; Donyatt v Taunton; Yeovil v Moonfleet 2000; Torquay United v Mid Devon; Newquay v Plymouth; Picketts Lock v Mansfield; Croydon v King George Field; Grattons v Wey Valley; White Oak v Angel; Folkestone v Oyster; Falaise v Eastbourne; Victory v Adur; Dolphin v Bournemouth.
National women’s inter-club championship (Vivienne Trophy) Second round: MidGlos bt Thornbury 96-61; Nailsea bt Bristol 85-80; Torbay bt Plymouth 100-78; Taunton Deane w/o, Torquay United scr; Moonfleet 2000 bt Bournemouth 76-66; Dorchester bt East Dorset 85-72.
National women’s over 60 Double Rink championship (Mason Trophy) – Third round: North Wilts B bt Purnell 46-44 (NW names first): A Roberts-Phare, S Palfrey, K Lloyd, F Mace 27, M Withey, M Harvey, A Toogood, J Walmsley 22; W Rowden, V Lucas, I Button, J Collier 19, P Dando, G Dury, D Barnaby, A Chivers 22. Other results: Dorchester A bt Yeovil A 39-32; Bridport A bt Bridport B 36-29; Taunton B bt Minehead B 47-42; Taunton Deane bt Wellington 49-36; Thornbury B bt Clevedon 58-23; Torquay United B bt Exonia A 45-19; Isca B bt Isca C 45-31; Plymouth B bt Honiton B 52-37; Newquay bt Carnmoggas 38-35.
Warner Leisure Hotels Wessex League – Coastal Region: Bournemouth bt Bournemouth Royals 94-63 (14-2); East Dorset bt Bridport 97-71 (12-4); Dolphin bt Dorchester 96-57 (16-0); Moonfleet bt Dolphin Blues 119-39 (16-0); Five Rivers bt Moonfleet B 91-58 (14-2). East Region: Carterton bt Banbury 79-70 (12-4); Chipping Norton bt Rivermead 69-58 (12-4); Westlecot bt Oxford City & County 78-66 (12-4); West Berks bt Loddon Vale 74-59 (13-3). North Region: Malvern bt Fairford 108-58 (16-0); Cotswold bt MidGlos 74-72 (12-4); Gloucester bt MidGlos B 77-74 (13-3); Thornbury bt Cotswold B 84-66 (12-4). West Region: Exonia bt Torquay United 94-73.