BOWLS: Midland Counties title looks like going right to the wire

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Northants are the only team that can still catch Bears

By Alan Jackson

This last Midland Counties game was almost set to be a title decider, the Bears knowing six points would mean that Worcestershire could not finish above them by winning their game in hand. However a surprise result saw Northamptonshire pick up 21 points last week, meaning that to guarantee the title Warwickshire needed to pick up 18 points, as Northants could potentially get a total of 69 points, the Bears starting their last game on 52 points.

Andy Manning (Nuneaton), Paul Finch (Kings Heath), Dave Fallon (Nuneaton) and Dan Box (Little Compton) made a good start but were all square after twelve ends. With five ends to play the sides were still level but Box and co finished strong, limiting Worcestershire to one shot and adding eight of their own, final score 21-14. Tom Wheeler (Rugby), Neil Hancock (Little Compton), Matt Wells and Tom Millership (both Rugby) had a slow start but with fourteen ends gone were level. A five swung the encounter into Millership’s rinks favour as the sides shared the rest of the ends, Bears winning 23-19.

Ewan Mason (Rugby), Rob Maries, Adam Smith (both Avenue Leamington) and Alan Apsey (Welford) recovered from being six down halfway through to trail by two four ends to play. A brace of threes took Apsey four ahead, the hosts replied strong but Apsey and co held out to win 18-17. Andy Prickett (Welford), Gary Langford (Solihull Municipal), Richard Brittan and Mark Ireland (both Erdington Court) were level after seven ends but slipped to be six down with fifteen ends gone. A four followed by a couple of singles took them level again, Worcestershire replied with a brace of singles and last end double to take the game 19-15.

Jordan Ward, Brian Boardman (both Rugby), Colin Jacox (Avenue Coventry) and Calvin Wells (Nuneaton) were up 12-0 after nine ends, Worcestershire cut that down to seven with six ends to go. Wells and co were shut out in the remaining ends, dropping eleven shots to lose 14-18. Lee Maughan (Rugby), Steve Taylor (Avenue Coventry), Martin Heitzman (Avenue Leamington) and Martin Timms (Welford) found themselves ten down after four ends. With five ends to go the deficit was down to five, an even finish saw Worcestershire take the rink 21-15 and take an overall 108-106 victory, restricting the Bears to six points.

Northamptonshire are the only team that can still catch the Bears, next week they play Worcestershire and on the 10th August they play Leicestershire, both at home. To topple Warwickshire they need to gain at least 34 points (33 and it comes down to shot difference) out of the available 44 points.

Warwickshire v Buckinghamshire

The Bears headed to Woburn Sands BC hoping to avoid getting sunburn as the blistering heat meant that the friendly encounter with Buckinghamshire was reduced to 18 ends. The game was as sizzling as the weather, Warwickshire losing by a shot, 90-91.

Senior Vice President Clive Faulkner, Match Secretary Mike Hall, Martin Preedy (Lillington) and Keith Hornsby (Three Spires) raced to a 5-0 lead but were all square at the midway point. A three with four ends to play put Hornsby and co five up, the sides exchanged pairs of singles, final score 15-10. Past President Graham O’Donohue, Lindsey Shaw (Grange), Miles Wilcox (Stoke) and County President Geoff Moran scored an eighth end six to lead by five but saw that cut down to two after twelve ends. A double and three singles helped the President’s rink complete a 16-11 victory.

Des Workman (Kings Heath), Rick Hayes (Avenue Leamington), Dave Owen (Rugby Police) and Nigel Hewitson (Rugby) went five up after eight ends but dropped a five the next end. The scores were still level after thirteen ends but Hewitson and co finished strong to take the game 18-14. Wallace Stein (Three Spires), Roy Phillips (Handsworth Wood), County Secretary Michael Jackson and Phil Bale (Grange) took a halfway eight shot start but Bucks fought back to be level with three ends to play. Bale and co took the final three ends to win 19-15.

Junior Vice President Peter Vale Humphreys, Jerry Horne (Royal Leamington Spa), Barry Connolly (Avenue Leamington) and Past President Brian Mace Humphries had a poor start, seven down after five remained seven down with ten ends played. Mace Humphries’ rink finished well but could only cut the deficit in half, final score 16-12 to Bucks. Barry Mace (Three Spires), Geoff Ward (Lillington), John Furness (Rugby Railway) and Past President Aubrey Brookhouse trailed by one after seven ends but dropped twelve over the next three ends. Things didn’t improve much for the Bears over the remaining ends, the hosts winning 25-10.