County Finals Day 2018 at Nuneaton BC
After two months of hot dry weather it was probably certain that rain would descend on Nuneaton BC for County Finals Day. It is a credit to both the players and the green that the finals produced some thrilling encounters.
Mention the County Singles and one name springs to mind, Graham Ashby now at Nuneaton. Rugby’s Nigel Hewitson stood between him and his eighth singles title. Ashby made the early running, moving to 4-1 before Hewitson took a four and single to move ahead. Ashby equalised and moved ahead again, Hewitson levelled the scores. That pattern continued until the scores reached 16 all, then Ashby took a couple of singles to leave himself just one shot short of number eight, a shot he took the next end to win 21-16. While Graham Ashby was busy securing his singles title his son Scott Ashby (Nuneaton) was looking to secure his first Junior Singles title. His opponent was Craig Carter (Rugby) who was looking for his third title. Ashby quickly moved to a 13-2 lead before Carter closed the gap with a couple of threes. Ashby rebuilt the lead to seven, Carter took a trio of doubles to cut the deficit to one and then took a four to lead 19-16. Ashby scored a single and treble to go to 20-19, Carter took the next with a double to win the Junior Singles for the third time.
Craig Carter was also in action in the Junior Pairs with his partner Jordan Merrett (Avenue Coventry), their opponents were defending champions Mark and Adam Smith (Avenue Leamington). A second end five gave Merrett and Carter an early advantage but the Smiths were 11-5 up after six ends. After eleven ends the lead was five shots, Merrett and Carter levelled the scores with four ends left, both sides added two in the next three ends to set up a winner takes all final end. The Smiths emerged victorious, retaining the trophy with a 17-16 win. The Two Wood Singles featured Adam Shuttleworth (Whitnash) and Martin Hammond (Three Spires). Shuttleworth had the better start, moving to 9-4 up after ten ends. Shuttleworth’s lead was four after sixteen ends, Hammond took the next four ends to leave the score all square with one end left. Shuttleworth took that end to win the title 13-12.
Allen Onion, Rob Robinson, Richard Brittan and Mark Ireland (Erdington Court) and Dave Green, Will Pratt, Will Brundle and Phil Green (Norgren) contested the County Fours. Norgren started well, getting to ten ends six shots up, Erdington Court fought back and took a one shot lead. Norgren again moved ahead only for Erdington Court to again move ahead. On the penultimate end Norgren levelled the match, another final heading to a final end shoot out. The Norgren four scored a double to win 17-15. Ewan Mason, Jordan Ward and Darren Ward (Rugby) found themselves 9-0 down against Jordan Merrett, Steve Merrett and Colin Jacox (Avenue Coventry) in the County Triples. The Rugby trio took a four but then dropped a six, after nine ends Avenue held a nine shot advantage. After fourteen ends the lead was still nine, Rugby cut it to seven but couldn’t stop Avenue winning 22-15.
Father and son combination Dave and Phil Green (Norgren) played Allen Onion and Mark Ireland (Erdington Court) for the County Pairs title. An eighth end five helped Norgren move to one shot behind Erdington Court. Erdington Court took a five of their own on their way to a ten shot lead. Norgren halved the deficit but Erdington Court took it back to ten to seal a 25-15 victory. David Payne (Stratford) completed a trio of singles to move 6-5 ahead of Bill Claridge (Royal Leamington Spa) in the Unbadged Singles. Claridge took nine unanswered shots to move eight shots clear. Payne took it down to four but four singles and a treble for Claridge gave him a 21-10 victory.
In the Senior Fours Andy Prickett, Colin Cleary, Tony Finch and Simon Davies (Welford) won 21-18 against Phil Birch, Steve Taylor, Keith Wooding and Colin Jacox (Avenue Coventry) during a hefty downpour. Both scorecards were saturated, with one virtually disintegrated, making them impossible to read.
The four area representatives for the Ivens Cup were: Erdington Court (Birmingham), Highway (Coventry), Thornfield B (Rugby) and Bidford (South Warwickshire). In the semi finals Bidford were drawn against Erdington Court and Thornfield would play Highway.
Erdington Court made the better start, 10-4 up after nine ends. Bidford fought back and cut the deficit down to one, then took a seventeenth end six to turn the game on its head. A treble and double helped them take the game 21-12. In the other semi final Thornfield reached the tenth end with a ten shot lead. Highway managed to reduce that to two but Thornfield finished strong to win 24-14.
The third and fourth place play-off saw Highway face Erdington Court. Erdington raced away to an 11-0 lead after six ends. A four and three put Highway back in the game but Erdington again pulled away, opening the lead up to nine. Highway took a couple of doubles but Erdington Court replied with a couple of doubles of their own to put the game out of Highway’s reach. Erdington Court finishing third with a 24-14 scoreline.
After successful semi finals Bidford and Thornfield faced off to see who would be this years Ivens Cup winner. A cagey start gave Thornfield a one shot advantage after seven ends. Thornfield extended their lead to six but Bidford wiped that out in one end and went on to open up a three shot lead of their own. With two ends left the scores were all square. Thornfield took the penultimate end with a single, Bidford came close to forcing an extra end but Thornfield held firm taking the game 21-19. Thornfield were represented by Colin Hall, John Kilsby, Ian Gibbs, Fred Bastock with Tony Bromfield reserve if needed.