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Westlecot’s success in individual nationals continues. It’s been a little while since our last update, and we have a huge amount to update you on! Games in many different competitions have taken place, with many of them reaching the Area Final stage!

We start this update with the National Singles, where both the Mens and Ladies participants in the area final from the top half of the draw have been decided!

In the Mens area Semi-Final, Neil Smith took on Mikey Titcombe. To this point, Neil had enjoyed strong wins over Martin Shepherd, Alan Dunkley, Paul Costin and Chris Cheesley. Mikey’s campaign so far has included wins over Ken Wiggins, Dennis Gregory and Scott Edwards.

Mikey raced into an 8-1 lead early on, and managed to keep his momentum, extending his lead to 15-5. Knowing Neil is more than capable of mounting a comeback, Mikey knew he needed to keep his foot on the gas and finish the game off as soon as possible, which he did, eventually running out a 21-7 winner. A really good performance which puts Mikey into the area final, where he will meet Rob Newman in a repeat of the 2017/18 final. Good luck Mikey!

In the Ladies Singles, Lucy Smith was set to play Katherine Hawes, however Lucy has received a walkover which will now move her into the area final, where she will meet Caroline Mabley of Whiteknights at Loddon Vale on Tuesday 15th February. Good luck Lucy!

We now move onto the Mens National Pairs, where Neil Smith & Scott Edwards battled Andy McIntyre & Mikey Titcombe in an all Westlecot affair, with a place in the area final at stake. It looked set to be a great game and it certainly did not disappoint.

A tight battle for a majority of the game, it looked as though Andy and Mikey were slowly but surely managing to pull away from Neil and Scott. However, with ends running out, Neil and 2Scott managed to string a succession of scoring ends together, including a count of 3, Scott playing some brilliant bowls at crucial points to swing the match in their favour and lead by 2 heading into the last end. Mikey had a chance to draw into a tight head to win the match, however was inches over the pace, meaning Andy and Mikey only scored a 2 and the match headed into an extra end. With one bowl left in his hand on the extra end, Scott found himself and Neil game down, but a fantastic running bowl killed the end. On the replayed end, Mikey had a couple of bowls to draw within a few inches of the jack to win the game, and despite a great effort with his third bowl which just ran out the side door, he could not find the killer bowl for him and Andy, meaning a great win for Neil and Scott in a very entertaining contest which went right to the wire. Good luck Neil and Scott in the area final, where they will face Rob Newman and Michael Knight.

In the Ladies Pairs area Semi-Final, we were treated to another all Westlecot affair with Lucy Smith taking on Yvette Maxwell-Darkes. Yvette had enjoyed a good win over Carol Gaskins in the previous round, whereas Lucy had a bye, so this was her opening match in the competition. With Lucy being a former winner of the National Pairs with sister Katy in 2019, this was going to be a tough game for Yvette. This was a relatively tight affair early on, however Lucy did eventually extend her lead and came away with a strong 25-10 victory. Lucy now moves onto the area-final, where she will face Mary Price of Desborough on Sunday 13th February at Oxford City & County. Good luck Lucy and Wendy!

We now move onto the Ladies Triples and Fours, where in both competitions Janet Willis took on Deanne Davis, at Westlecot in the Fours, and at Swindon Manor in the Triples. In the Triples, Deanne took full advantage of the home draw, recording a comfortable 19-7 victory. However, our ladies were not to be denied in the fours, recording a great 21-14 win. Both sides making great use of their home draw, Janet now moves onto the area final of the Fours, where she will face Helen Jones from Desborough at a neutral venue. Good luck Janet!

We now move onto the Mixed Competitions. With the national finals for these being a little earlier than the ladies and men’s finals, these had both reached the area final stage, with Westlecot being involved in both the pairs and the fours.

In the Mixed Fours, Lucy Smith, Lynda Whittingham, Mikey Titcombe & Scott Edwards travelled to Oxford City & County to take on Rob Newman’s quartet. It was Westlecot that had the early advantage, maintaining a small lead for the first half of the match. A crucial moment came when Westlecot held a good 6 which would have given them a very strong lead, but Rob Newman produced a fantastic bowl to draw the shot and keep the match tight. Following on from this, the Whiteknights rink scored 2 big counts, which eventually led to an unfortunate 7 shot loss for our four. Good luck to Rob & Co in the national finals!

It was another Westlecot vs Whiteknights clash, Lucy Smith & Scott Edwards took on Michael Knight at Loddon Vale in the Mixed Pairs area final. A solid performance from our pair throughout meant they maintained a solid advantage for most of the game, and eventually led to them recording a great 8 shot victory to secure their place in the national finals. Lucy & Scott now move onto the prelim at the national finals on the 26th February, against Rick Gallagher of Cumbria. We all wish them the very best of luck!

We now move onto the Family Pairs, where we had another all Westlecot affair to look forward to, with Lucy & Neil Smith taking on Jake Webster & Mikey Titcombe.

In what looked like it should have been a relatively tight game on paper, Lucy & Neil had other ideas, racing into a huge lead after a few ends of successive counts. Mikey & Jake tried their best to hang in there, and managed to claw a few shots back, at one point reducing the gap to 11 shots, but with Lucy & Neil in such good form, it was an almost impossible ask. Lucy & Neil eventually closed the game out 25-12 and move into the area final, where they will meet Mark Essex of Desborough at a neutral venue. Good luck Lucy & Neil!

Written by Mikey Titcombe

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