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It was yet another busy week for the club with more national competition matches being completed. Mixed fortunes this week, with some fantastic results accompanied by some very near misses.

We start this weeks report with our 060’s Double Rink B side who faced a stern test in Desborough A. We were undoubtedly the underdogs going into this match, with 5 of our 8 players making their national competition debuts.

However, it did not seem like they were fazed by the step-up in competition early on, with the away rink leading 8-1 and the home rink narrowly ahead 5-4. The home rink continued to battle well and managed to extend their lead to 13-5 at the halfway stage. Desborough managed to battle back over the second half, closing the margin to 6 shots at 15 ends. Desborough managed to claw back another couple of shots in the closing stages, final score 17-13 in Westlecot’s favour.

Unfortunately, at Desborough things didn’t go as smoothly. Following an excellent start from Westlecot, Desborough managed to win an end, changed the jack length and started to find their feet, not giving our rink much opportunity to score. They continued to pull away from us, the final score being 27-9 to Desborough, meaning an overall 14 shot win for them. We wish them all the best in the next round, but we are also very proud of our side for giving Desborough a run for their money, particularly in the early stages of the match.

We fast forward to Friday now, where Pairs partners Mikey Titcombe and Andy McIntyre faced off in the National 2 Bowl Singles. Mikey and Andy have played each other on a couple of occasions in the past in the 4 bowl singles, with honours being split evenly.

A good start from Andy left Mikey trailing 8-4, with Mikey needing to dig in to get back into the game. Mikey did eventually manage to close the gap, and following this the two were very nip and tuck for a long time, before Mikey managed to put a few solid ends together, eventually pulling ahead to run out a 21-15 winner in a very good game. Mikey and Andy now look forward to their national pairs second round on Friday evening against AJ Docherty.

On Saturday, we had two games of singles to report on. Mikey Titcombe was in action again, facing Kenneth Wiggins in his opening round of the National Singles, whilst Neil Smith travelled to Chipping Norton to face a very tough away fixture in the Champion of Champions against Martin Shepherd.

It was a scrappy start to Mikey’s game, scoring a 4 on the first end then following it up with a very poor second end to drop a count of 3. After this though, Mikey continued to improve throughout the match, pulling away to a comfortable 21-7 win. Mikey will now travel to Slade on the 26th November to face Dennis Gregory in the second round.

It was definitely not as straightforward for Neil at Chipping Norton. Trailing for most of the game against a very good player on any carpet, let alone his own, Neil had to really dig in to stay alive in this year’s competition.

He was up to the task though, gradually clawing his way back into the game, reducing Martin’s lead bit by bit. Neil eventually grinded out a 21-18 win and advances to the area Semi-Final, just two games away from qualifying for the national finals. He will face a home tie, strangely enough, against Dennis Gregory, Mikey’s National Singles opponent.

Finally this brings us to Sunday and it was time for our Egham side to take to the carpet, taking on Whiteknights who were out for a slice of revenge after our victory in the Denny the previous week. Neil Smith was also in action again in round 2 of the National Singles, in a tough away tie against Brackley’s Alan Dunkley.

It looked a tough task for our Egham Men and Ladies, missing a few of our usual suspects and going up against a strong looking Whiteknights team. It looked as though the writing was very much on the wall at the halfway mark. Our home skips, Josh Fail and Tom Pittuck were trailing 9-5 and 10-6 respectively and away from home it was looking pretty grim as well with Scott Edwards trailing 10-5 and Mikey Titcombe trailing 9-16.

However, the tide away from home really began to turn with Scott’s rink scoring some big counts to lead 14-11 at 14 ends, and Mikey’s rink scoring 9 shots without reply to lead 18-16, breathing life back into the game. Up against two very strong rinks at Westlecot, Tom maintained a 4 shot deficit and Josh began to gradually claw shots back, reducing the gap to 12-10, leaving us just a single shot behind on the overall scoreboard.

With the end of the game in sight, it looked as though we might have been getting our noses out in front, however a strong finish by Whiteknights at Westlecot put them back in the driving seat. Josh Fail had done remarkably well, scoring a succession of 1’s to lead 13-12 going into the last end and unfortunately lost a count of 2 to lose 14-13 in a fantastic battle. Tom Pittuck’s rink were also unfortunate, they had managed to stick with a strong Whiteknights rink all the way, however dropped a 4 on the last to finish up 8 shots adrift 23-15.

After a number of dead ends at Whiteknights, this left Scott and Mikey both with 3 ends to play following the conclusion of play at home, knowing they needed to claw back a 6 shot deficit between them to win the match for Westlecot. It was a hugely promising start to this with a great end from both rinks, Scott scoring a 4 and Mikey a 2 to leave us level overall. Another great end from Scott’s rink saw him score a 3 to put us out in front. A fantastic last bowl from Simon Jones turned 1 up to 1 down on Mikey’s rink, which left Westlecot 2 shots in front with both rinks having an end left to play. Scott dropped a single, leaving us just 1 shot ahead with just a few bowls left to play on Mikey’s rink. A fantastic end from the Whiteknights rink left us in trouble and despite two very close efforts, Mikey could not turn the head in our favour and Whiteknights advanced to the next round in what was a brilliant battle by both teams.

This match was a fantastic advert for the sport, it was played in a really good spirit, both teams showing plenty of appreciation for good bowls that were played by the opposition whilst also maintaining a fierce competitiveness. Good luck to Whiteknights for the rest of the competition, we look forward to meeting them again this weekend in the Top Club!

There was better news for Westlecot on Sunday though. With Neil’s confidence high after a great battling performance at Chipping Norton, he produced a fantastic display in what was a tough away game on paper against Alan Dunkley. At no point did Neil look in trouble in this match, running out a 21-5 winner to cruise into the 3rd round of the National Singles. Neil’s next match will be at home, and he awaits the winner of the match between David Leighfield and Paul Costin.

Another busy week ahead of us, with our Denny team back in action hoping to back up their excellent first round performance in a match against Desborough, followed by our Top Club team travelling to Whiteknights to take them on for the third successive weekend in what should be another fantastic match.

Written by Mikey Titcombe.

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