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Area Finals Report

In what has been a hugely successful season for the club, many of our members have been competing in their respective area finals, battling to secure their places in the national finals which commence at the end of the month.

Of the 22 individual national competitions entered by Westlecot members, we were represented in 17 area finals, and won over half of them! Congratulations to all involved, the story of them all will be told in the remainder of this report!

The area finals began with our father and daughter duo Lucy and Neil Smith both winning through to their respective finals in the National Champion of Champions. Unfortunately these two did not go our way, with Neil losing out to the experienced John McGuinness and Lucy losing out to eventual Quarter-Finalist Morgan Merryweather.

Following this, we had the Mixed competition area finals, with Lucy Smith and Scott Edwards being involved in both the Pairs, and the Fours, teaming up with Lynda Whittingham and Mikey Titcombe. Unfortunately, the fours did not go our way, losing out by 7 shots to Pat Holland’s Whiteknights four, skipped by Rob Newman that lost out in the National Quarter Finals to the eventual winners from Barwell.

However, Lucy and Scott enjoyed better fortunes in the Mixed Pairs, running out 22-14 victors over Michael Knight in the area final. Lucy and Scott then battled their way through three tough rounds at the national finals, before losing out in a good battle to Kylie and Barry Jenkins. A great effort to reach the Semi-Final, they certainly did all of us proud!

Which now brings us onto the more recent area finals, with the final stages to be played at Nottingham, commencing at the end of this month.

In the senior events, Westlecot were involved in four area finals. Yvette Maxwell-Darkes in the Ladies Senior Singles, Wendy Anderson & Janet Willis in the Over 60 Pairs, Kevin Embling, Paul Kistle, Dave Snell & Mel Biggs in the Senior Fours and Andy McIntyre, Mel Biggs and Neil Smith in the Over 50 Triples.

In the Ladies Senior Singles, Yvette took on Pat Fowkes of Rivermead. Yvette got off to a very strong start in this match, but unfortunately couldn’t keep the momentum, and Pat managed to claw her way back into the game and come out on top to book her place at Nottingham in a very closely fought game, 21-19.

In the Ladies Senior Pairs, Wendy and Janet took on Mary Price of Desborough, in what looked to be a very tough match against strong opposition. Unfortunately for our ladies, Mary was in good form, and managed to secure a comfortable 23-6 victory to secure her place at the national finals.

In the Mens Senior Fours, after two strong victories in the previous rounds, Kevin Embling, Paul Kistle, Dave Snell & Mel Biggs travelled to Oxford City & County to take on a tough test in Derek Parsonson from West Berks. This looked set to be a very close encounter, and at points in the game there wasn’t much in it. However, it was Derek & Co who pulled away eventually to record a 7 shot victory. This isn’t the last you’ll hear about the Westlecot quartet in this report though, as they were all also involved in another area final.

In the Senior Triples, Andy McIntyre, Mel Biggs and Neil Smith travelled to Loddon Vale to take on David Simpson’s Desborough trio. Our triple have endured some very tight matches along their path to this final, and this game was no exception. However, the result did go Westlecot’s way this time, Neil & co winning 18-15 and booking their place in the national finals. Congratulations to Andy, Mel and Neil who will now play at Nottingham at 6pm on Tuesday 5th April, opponent still to be decided.

In the Family Pairs, Lucy & Neil Smith reached the area final after a resounding win over Jake Webster and Mikey Titcombe. In the final, they took on Mark Essex of Desborough with a place at Nottingham on the line. Unfortunately for our Westlecot pair, Mark was on great form in this final, and eventually managed to secure a 16-8 victory to secure his place at Nottingham.

This brings us to the 2 Wood Competitions, and we were represented in both the Ladies and Men’s Area Finals. Lucy Smith took on Morgan Merryweather in a repeat of the Champion of Champions area final, whilst Mikey Titcombe took on Alan Symondson also of Whiteknights.

Lucy had her work cut out last time around against Morgan, with Morgan performing very well to qualify for the national finals of the Champion of Champions. However, this time around Lucy brought her A game. Morgan was also playing very well, leading to a high quality game between the two, with Lucy managing to secure the win 21-14 and book her place at Nottingham. Lucy will take on Pam Cutts of Nottingham on the 29th March in the last 16.

Mikey had enjoyed relatively comfortable wins in his previous couple of matches and certainly went into this match full of confidence. However, Alan had recorded an impressive win of his own over Paul Maynard in the previous round, so this looked set to be a great match up. Mikey got off to a solid start and gave himself a good cushion early on, a cushion which he was able to defend to great effect, eventually recording a 21-13 win and booking his place at Nottingham. Mikey will take on John Mildren of Nottingham on the 30th March in the last 16.

Westlecot also had representatives in both National Fours competitions. Wendy Anderson, Ann Haunton, Ginny Nash and Janet Willis were in the Ladies final, whilst our O60 Fours area finalists – Kevin Embling, Paul Kistle, Dave Snell and Mel Biggs made it through to the Mens Final.

Our men faced a tough test against Rob Newman’s Whiteknights quartet, as he teamed up with Michael Knight, Simon Jones and Paul Maynard. However, it was our four who seized the initiative early on, establishing a solid lead. Playing sensible bowls throughout, they managed to maintain this gap, producing a composed display to record an impressive 15-10 victory to secure their spot in the national finals. Mel & co will now take on Martin Puckett’s four in a prelim at Nottingham on the 3rd April.

In the ladies fours, our quartet skipped by Janet Willis, took on Helen Jones of Desborough. Both fours had enjoyed strong wins in their previous matches, so this looked set to be a close encounter, and it proved to be just that. With not a lot to separate them for a majority of the match, It was the Westlecot rink that managed to find the all-important bowls to secure the win, getting over the line 21-18 to advance to the national finals. Our ladies now advance to Nottingham, where they will take on a strong Lincoln four skipped by Penny Strong in the last 16.

In the national pairs, Westlecot were once again represented in both finals. Neil Smith and Scott Edwards on the mens side, and Wendy Anderson and Lucy Smith on the ladies side.

Lucy and Wendy took on Mary Price of Desborough in their area final. Mary had enjoyed some strong wins leading up to this match, so it looked set to be a tough one for our ladies. This was a very closely fought battle, with both sides giving as good as they got, however in a very low scoring affair, it was Mary who managed to pull through with a 12-10 win to advance to Nottingham.

On the Mens side, Neil Smith and Scott Edwards teamed up to take on Michael Knight and Rob Newman, played at the neutral venue of Loddon Vale. A final containing 4 top quality players, this one really did look set up to be a fantastic encounter. It was Neil and Scott who eventually managed to seize control of this area final though, performing well on their chosen jack length to eventually pull away and record an 18-10 victory to book their place at Nottingham. Neil and Scott move onto the national finals, where they will face a prelim on 11th April against Mark Hughes of Selby Bowling Club in Yorkshire.

Finally, we move onto our two singles competitors, Lucy Smith and Mikey Titcombe, who both also qualified in the Two Bowl Singles. Lucy took on Caroline Mabley of Whiteknights, whilst Mikey took on Rob Newman, also of Whiteknights.

Lucy managed to get off to a strong start against Caroline, taking the lead early on. As the game went on, Lucy grew in confidence and gradually pulled further away, not taking her foot off the gas to secure a 21-9 victory to book her place at Nottingham. Lucy will compete against Ellie Hamblett of Barwell in the last 16, with that match taking place on the 28th March.

Mikey and Rob had both come through some very tough opposition to reach the area final, so this looked set to be a close match up, and it certainly was exactly that. Mikey held the lead for a majority of the game, but Rob continued to peg Mikey back at various stages, including reducing the gap from 16-9 to just 16-15. At 19-15, Mikey looked like he may have had the game won, only for Rob to produce an excellent bowl to turn the head from 2 shots against to 3 shots up, then drawing in with his last to score a maximum count of 4. At 19-19 it truly was anyone’s game, but Mikey produced a good final end to score the 2 shots he needed to book his place at Nottingham. In the last 16 at the finals, Mikey will take on Joe Dawson of Barwell in the opening round, also taking place on the 28th March.

That was supposed to round off the report, however whilst writing, we have had more news of more success for Westlecot!