By Alan Jackson
Bowls England changed the format of the White Rose Trophy from a double rink for junior bowlers to just one rink and playing 15 ends, though each county was allowed to enter a maximum of two teams. Warwickshire named their teams Cubs and Bears, the Bears being the main rink and the Cubs a development rink. Both teams went to West Backwell BC to take part in the Group West Regional Finals.
The Cubs were placed in group West A and consisted of Scott Ashby, Harry Smith (both Nuneaton), Dan Jones (Kings Heath) and Jordan Merrett (Avenue Coventry). Unfortunately they fell at the first hurdle, the Herefordshire Bulls adapting to a tricky rink better to win 18-1.
Mark Smith (Avenue Leamington), Jordan Ward (Rugby), Adam Smith (Avenue Leamington) and Craig Carter (Rugby) aka The Bears would open their West B group facing the Somerset Strikers. A good start took the Bears to 9-1 after seven ends, Somerset took a couple of singles which the Bears cancelled out in the next end, maintaining their eight shot advantage with five ends left. Somerset took a four and double either side of a Warwickshire single to cut the lead to three but Carter and co took their own four before dropping a last end double. The Bears through to the next round with a 16-11 scoreline.
Although taking a four on the first end the Bears trailed by two after eight ends. Four singles swung the game in the favour of Warwickshire, often the difference being down to a battle between the two skips, Dorset levelled the scores with two ends to play. The Bears took the penultimate end with a single and in another tight tussle where who was holding swung from one side to the other it was the Bears who again came out on top, final score of 11-9 seeing Carter’s rink into the West B Final.
The previous day three of the Bears (Mark & Adam Smith and Jordan Ward) played in the Middleton Cup against Devon, the final would see them face the Devon Hawks, three of whom also played in the Middleton Cup game. Although the Bears didn’t need the extra motivation the chance for a bit of payback helped add to the encounter. Warwickshire started strong, five ends gone and they led 10-1. Devon cut the deficit to one shot with four ends to play and levelled the encounter two ends later. The Bears took the penultimate end with a single and the last end extended the drama. With Carter’s first wood he took shot, the Devon skip replied in kind and Carter retook shot with his last wood. The Devon skip had the last wood, needing a shot to force an extra end or two to win the tie, he couldn’t manage either falling just short. The Warwickshire Bears winning 15-13 and booking their place in the quarter finals to be held during the Nationals at Victoria Park, Leamington.
Warwickshire travelled down to Clevedon BC to play Devon in the Middleton Cup, while both teams won three rinks it was Devon that came out on top winning 112-100 restricting the Bears to 6 out of 22 points.
Andy Prickett (Welford), Darren Ward (Rugby), Richard Brittan and Mark Ireland (both Erdington Court) led by six at the midway stage and five with six ends to play. A strong finish by Ireland and co saw them restrict Devon to one more shot while adding seven of their own, final score 21-9. Martyn Murley (Nuneaton), Rob Robinson (Erdington Court), Matt Wells and Tom Millership (both Rugby) got off to a strong start, leading by seven after five ends. Ten ends later Millership’s rink had increased their advantage to eleven and maintained that through to the end, the Bears winning 26-15.
Adam Smith (Avenue Leamington), Keith Wooding (Avenue Coventry), Martin Heitzman and Andy Smith (Avenue Leamington) trailed by six at the halfway point but cut that down to a one shot deficit with six to go. A treble put Smith and co ahead and they finished well to secure a 21-16 win. Andy Manning, Dave Fallon (both Nuneaton), Colin Jacox (Avenue Coventry) and Calvin Wells (Nuneaton) were six down after ten ends, the second half of the game saw neither side able to outmatch their opponent, final score 19-13 to Devon.
Jordan Ward, Brian Boardman (both Rugby), Steve Smith (Nuneaton) and Martin Timms (Welford) reached the tenth end one shot down but a bad seven end spell saw them pick up just one more shot and concede fourteen. Devon winning 26-12. Mark Smith (Avenue Leamington), Neil Hancock (Little Compton), Alan Apsey (Welford) and Dan Box (Little Compton) took an early lead but reached the fifteenth end six down. Devon restricted Box’s rink to one more shot while piling on the shots, the Bears falling to a 27-7 loss.