BOWLS: Middleton Cup Bears beaten in sunny Weston-super-Mare

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Temperatures soar but Warwickshire slump to defeat by Somerset in final game

The final match in the group stage of the Middleton Cup saw another long journey, this time to Victoria BC in Weston-super-Mare to take on Somerset, writes Alan Jackson.

The Bears knew they needed to win and win big to try and capitalise on any slip by Cornwall but as the temperature soared the Bears slumped to a 129-117 defeat, picking up just five points.

Andy Prickett (Welford), Darren Ward (Rugby), Richard Brittan and Mark Ireland (both Erdington Court) raced to a 19-4 midway lead. With six ends to play the lead had risen to nineteen, where it stayed until the final ends when Ireland and co finished in style with a four to seal a 34-11 victory. Andy Manning (Nuneaton), Rob Maries (Avenue Leamington), Matt Wells (Rugby) and Alan Apsey (Welford) were 9-0 down after four ends but recovered to reach fifteen ends level on 13 all. Apsey’s rink opened up a six shot lead but had to settle for a four shot victory, final score 21-17.

Jordan Ward, Brian Boardman (both Rugby), Steve Smith (Nuneaton) and Martin Timms (Welford) were level after five ends but moved five shots clear with four ends to play. Heading into the last end Timms and co still lead by five but the hosts stunned the Bears by taking five to level the rink 19-19. Mark Smith (Avenue Leamington), Steve Taylor (Avenue Coventry), Neil Hancock (Little Compton) and Colin Jacox (Avenue Coventry) struggled from the start, ten ends gone and they were thirteen down. The deficit drifted as high as seventeen but Jacox’ rink reduced it to eleven at the end, Somerset win 25-11.

Adam Smith (Avenue Leamington), Lee Maughan (Rugby), Gary Langford (Solihull Municipal) and Andy Smith (Avenue Leamington) also got off to a poor start, a nine shot deficit after ten ends became nineteen after fifteen ends. Smith and co knocked six of that to finish down 14-27. Karl Finch (Avenue Coventry), Mal Evans (Sherwood Park), Dan Box (Little Compton) and Calvin Wells (Nuneaton) trailed by six at the halfway stage. Somerset dominated the second half to win 30-15.

With Cornwall having a convincing victory in their final game, any chance the Bears had of moving to the regional stage faded, to add insult to injury Somerset leapfrogged Warwickshire to finish second in the group.

# A sun baked Windsor Park awaited the Bears as the Secretary faced the Royal Household BC in his annual fixture. Due to issues the game would be three rinks and three triples, with the Bears also lending a couple of players to the hosts (Life Member Arnold Goad and Imm Past President Graham O’Donohue). The secretary triumphed in the sun, registering a 109-94 victory.

Roy Henfry (Tamworth), Boris Boulstridge (Nuneaton) and Past President Phil Green hit a five and six on their way to a midway 19-3 lead. The hosts doubled their tally in the second half but couldn’t stop a dominant Green and co completing a 30-7 victory. Barry Sheasby (Oakfield), Brian Lindley (Bilton), Assistant Secretary Bob Allcock and Past President Brian Mace Humphries took five ends to get off the mark but led by two after eleven ends. Three of the remaining ends were decided by doubles, the rest were all singles, with the Bears edging it, final score 19-16 to Mace Humphries and co.

Bryn Poore (Nuneaton), Match Secretary Mike Hall and Pete Storer (Grange) were level after five ends but two up after nine. The Household hit a seven on the thirteenth end to lead by six but Storer and co fought back to finish just one down, final score 16-17. Past President Clive Faulkner, Dennis Wilkinson (Stoke), Secretary Michael Jackson and Dave Cooke (Southam) trailed by twelve after nine ends but cut that to four with five ends to play. Cooke and co halved the deficit in the remaining ends, final score 18-20.

Fred West (Stoke) and Roger Powell (Bidford) shared the skip position for Ron Bale (Stoke), David Knee (Grange) and David Payne (Stratford). After nine ends they trailed by two, with fifteen ends gone the Bears now led by a shot. With two ends left the Bears still held a one shot lead but a treble and single for the hosts snatched the win 19-16. Malcolm Wickens (Royal Leamington Spa), Bob Hope (Welford) and Senior Vice President Geoff Moran recovered from a poor start to be level after twelve ends. A treble, trio of singles and double for the hosts countered by a last end single saw Moran and co lose 9-16.