BOWLS: Bears stun holders Leicestershire in Middleton Cup

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By Alan Jackson

Last season Leicestershire inflicted a 22-0 defeat on the Bears, so Warwickshire travelled to Leicester BC looking to put one over on the reigning Middleton Cup holders. An exceptional performance saw the Bears stun Leicestershire, winning five out of six rinks with a 148-90 scoreline, securing 20 of the available 22 points.

Lee Rowland (Avenue Leamington), Rob Robinson (Erdington Court), Matt Wells and Tom Millership (both Rugby) made a blistering start, reaching twelve ends 25-2 up. Leicestershire took four shots but Millership and co replied with nine of their own, the hosts scored two singles on the last two ends, final score 34-8 to the Bears.

Andy Prickett (Norgren), Darren Ward (Rugby), Richard Brittan and Mark Ireland (both Erdington Court) trailed by one after four ends but scored eighteen unanswered shots to lead 21-4 after twelve. With five ends to go the Bears had increased their lead to 23. The sides exchanged four shots and the Foxes took a last end four but it didn’t stop Ireland’s rink winning 32-13.

Mark Smith (Avenue Leamington), Stewart Smith (Nuneaton), Neil Hancock and Dan Box (both Little Compton) led by one after five ends and doubled that advantage by the halfway stage. With five ends left Box and co had increased that lead further, now six shots. Leicestershire cut the deficit to four with two ends left but the Bears finished strong, taking a brace of doubles to seal a 21-13 win.

Adam Smith (Avenue Leamington), Gary Langford (Solihull Municipal), Keith Wooding and Colin Jacox (both Avenue Coventry) were level after six ends and also after fifteen. A pair of fours followed by a single and treble took the Bears twelve clear, Leicestershire finished with a five, Jacox’s rink 24-19 winners.

Jordan Ward, Brian Boardman (both Rugby), Steve Smith (Nuneaton) and Martin Timms (Welford) trailed by one after six ends but turned it around to lead by three at the midway point. With sixteen ends played the lead was still three but Leicestershire scored two singles and a four to lead by three. Timms and co took a double to trail by one heading into the final end and completed their comeback with another double, final score 19-18.

Andy Manning, Dave Fallon (both Nuneaton), Martin Heitzman (Avenue Leamington) and Calvin Wells (Nuneaton) scored a five on the sixth end to take the lead. With twelve ends gone the Foxes had turned the game around to lead by five. Wells’ rink reached parity with three ends to go, the Foxes took two singles leaving the Bears two down with one end to go. Warwickshire fought back but could only take a single, the hosts winning 19-18.

* Warwickshire welcomed Middlesex to Grange BC as they played their last inter county friendly before heading off on tour to the Isle of Wight. The Bears had a good afternoon, winning four out of six rinks in a 119-96 victory.

Senior Vice President Clive Faulkner, Chris Howarth (Norgren), Mick Foster (Matrix) and Past President Brian Mace Humphries started with a five to reach the tenth end 12-8 up. They then boosted their tally with a seven before exchanging threes with Middlesex, the visitors took another treble to trail by eight. Mace Humphries and co finished the game with six singles and a treble to complete a 31-14 victory.

Barry Sheasby (Oakfield), Bryn Poore (Nuneaton), Martin Holland (Avon) and Past President Aubrey Brookhouse were locked in a tight encounter with the visitors, after twelve ends the sides tied on seven all. With five ends left the Bears held a one shot lead, a double and brace of trebles opened the lead to eight. The sides exchanged doubles to give Brookhouse’s rink a 21-13 win.

Martin Clark (Rowheath), Ron Davies (Grange), County Secretary Michael Jackson and Mick Reardon (Rugby Police) led by two after five ends and doubled that to four with five ends left. Reardon and co added another six shots over the next three ends, Middlesex replied with a double, leaving them with needing an eight to tie. They could only manage a treble, final score 19-14 to the Bears. Junior Vice President Peter Vale Humphreys, Life Member Arnold Goad, Ian Gibbs (Rugby) and Nigel Moreton (Matrix) trailed by four at the midway point, that extended to nine after fourteen ends. Moreton and co fought their way back to parity with three ends to go. Middlesex took the next end with a single, the Bears countered with a treble and Middlesex took the last end with another single, Moreton’s rink just holding out for an 18-17 win.

Past President Graham O’Donohue, Peter Litchfield (Oakfield), Malcolm Holland (Little Compton) and County President Geoff Moran reached twelve ends seven all. With five ends to play the score was now eleven all, the sides exchanged singles, two ends to play and the everything still level. A double and single for the visitors saw Moran and co fall to a 12-15 defeat. Rick Hayes (Avenue Leamington), Match Secretary Mike Hall, Paul Vaughan (Erdington Court) and Russell Box (Little Compton) trailed by three after nine ends, seven shots in four ends took Box and co into the lead but Middlesex replied with a five to move back in front. With three ends left the visitors led by four, Box’s rink cut the deficit to one with one end to play, Middlesex finished strong, scoring four and winning 23-18.