Updated: Jan 25
Following a slightly quieter week on the individual national competition front due to the return of the annual Westlecot Open, which was once again a huge success, we were back in full swing with many of our players in action. Also, the week was rounded off with our last 32 clash with Malvern Hills in the Denny Cup, our Ladies taking on Whiteknights in the Yetton Plate, and the local derby against Swindon Manor in the Wessex League.
We start this week’s report with the National Singles, with two of our men in action, plus two of our ladies facing off against each other in their opening match.
First off, Chris Cheesley travelled to Carterton to face tough opposition in Craig Morphet. Chris got off to an absolute flyer, taking a 13-0 lead. You would have been forgiven for thinking this kind of lead would be unassailable, however Craig dug in and clawed shots back, reducing the gap to 14-9, then 17-14. Chris just about managed to stay in front, maintaining a 2 shot advantage at 19-17. It was at this point that Chris finally managed to edge out the victory, scoring a 2 to seal it in a 2 hour +, 26 end match.
Next up we go to Neil Smith’s third round match, a home fixture against Oxford City & County’s Paul Costin with a place in the area quarter-final up for grabs. Although not having it completely his own way, Neil managed to grasp control and pull away from Paul to secure a relatively comfortable 21-10 win. Neil will now play Chris Cheesley in an all Westlecot affair, meaning the top half of Area 14 of the National Singles is completely made up by Westlecot, with Scott Edwards and Mikey Titcombe facing off in the other Quarter Final.
In the Ladies Singles, Lucy Smith and Yvette Maxwell-Darkes faced off in the opening round, with the winner advancing to the Area Semi-Final. Yvette recently enjoyed a good run in our open tournament, reaching the last 16 with two good wins, so her confidence will have been high going into this match. However, Lucy was too strong in this encounter, and secured a comfortable 21-6 win. Lucy moves on and will now play away at Oxford & District against either Josie Gilbert or Katherine Hawes in the next round.
Moving away from Singles action, on Tuesday our Mixed Four of Lucy Smith, Lynda Whittingham, Mikey Titcombe and Scott Edwards took on Craig Morphet’s Carterton rink, with a place in the Area Final up for grabs. Scott & co made full use of the home advantage, racing into an early lead and outbowling the opposition. However, Carterton rallied, clawing back counts of 1 and 2 to make the game very interesting going into the last 2 ends. Thankfully for Westlecot, they scored a count right when they needed it, leaving Carterton needing a huge score on the last end to win the game, which they were unable to get. The Westlecot four move into the Area Final, to be played by the 6th February at a neutral venue against either Pat Holland or Anne Marie Murray, both of Whiteknights, with a place at the National Finals at St Neots & District up for grabs.
In the Mens Triples, AJ Docherty once again travelled to Westlecot, for a rematch against Dave Snell who had recently won their encounter in the fours comfortably. On paper, this looked set to be a good contest and it was exactly that. However, unfortunately for our triple, the fortunes were reversed this time and although this was a very close game, AJ ended up securing a 2 shot victory, advancing to the area quarter-final. This leaves only one triple left in the competition for Westlecot in Neil Smith’s triple.
However, it was better news for Dave Snell in the opening round of the National Over 60 Pairs. Dave made the short trip over to Swindon Manor to take on Mick Kilburn, looking to get his campaign in the competition off to a good start. He did exactly that, settling to the away carpet and winning comfortably 23-11. Dave moves into round 2 where he could face off against clubmate Chris Cheesley, providing he comes through his opening match against Kenneth Wiggins at Brackley.
In the National 2 Wood on Thursday evening, Mikey Titcombe travelled to Chipping Norton to take on a tough away fixture against Martin Shepherd. Martin and Mikey actually faced off last weekend in the Westlecot Open, with Mikey coming out on top in a really high quality affair.
Mikey got off to a great start, settling to the carpet quickly and racking shots up to build up a substantial lead. Martin tried to find a way back into the match, but Mikey continued to play well and didn’t take his foot off the gas, running out a 21-7 winner, and advancing to the Area Quarter-Final.
On Friday, Neil Smith travelled to Carterton for a double header of national competition matches. Firstly he took on Craig Morphet in the National 2 Wood, shortly followed by his National Pairs with Scott Edwards, taking on Paul Sharman & partner.
Fairly recently, Neil’s four had just edged the four skipped by Craig out in the national fours, and it became apparent early on that this 2 Wood game was also going to be very tight. Going blow for blow in a high quality affair, Craig eventually managed to edge in front and just about grinded out a 21-19 victory. Craig moves onto the area Quarter-Final, where he now will play another Westlecot player in Mikey Titcombe.
Neil then looked to put the disappointment of the 2 wood behind him, teaming up with Scott Edwards in their Pairs second round against Paul Sharman. Neil and Scott were in good form, and despite his best efforts early on, Paul couldn’t stop the Westlecot Pair from pulling away and recording a reasonably comfortable 24-11 victory. Neil & Scott move into the Quarter-Final of the area, where they will take on clubmates Dave Snell and Mel Biggs in what should be a great game of bowls.
Also on Friday, our ladies Mason Trophy team looked to begin their campaign in the Mason Trophy in a local derby against Swindon Manor. We were seeking revenge following our narrow defeat to the Manor in the Yetton Trophy, however unfortunately this was not meant to be. Swindon Manor once again managed to pick up the victory, winning fairly comfortably 36-23. Commiserations to our ladies and good luck to our neighbours for the remainder of the competition.
Following our narrow defeat to Swindon Manor in the opening round of the Yetton Trophy, our ladies had the opportunity for a run in the Yetton Plate. Unfortunately they were handed a very difficult fixture against Whiteknights. However, our ladies put in a superb effort against a strong side, pushing Whiteknights throughout the game. Unfortunately, we were eventually just edged out by 5 shots, denying us a place in the last 16 of the competition. Good luck to Whiteknights for the remainder of the tournament.
On Saturday, it was the long-awaited last 32 clash in the Denny Cup where we took on Malvern Hills for a place in the last 16 of the country. We named an unchanged side for this match following on from a great win in the previous round, and went into the match feeling good and hoping to secure a victory in our best run for many years in this tournament.
Westlecot could not have got off to a much better start. Things were relatively tight away, with Mikey Titcombe’s rink leading 6-3 and Scott Edwards trailing just 3-2 at the 5 end mark. However, at home Chris Cheesley got off to a flyer, leading 12-2, with Neil Smith also ahead 9-5. This lead was as good as maintained approaching the halfway stage, Mikey’s rink now leading 13-3, Scott getting his nose in front 6-5, Neil still going well at 13-10 up, which covered for the opposition against Chris Cheesley making a superb comeback to now lead 12-13. Over the next few ends though, Malvern started to eat away at our advantage, reducing the gap to just 3 shots overall at the 13 end mark.
However, by 17 ends Westlecot had managed to restore a healthy advantage. At home, Neil Smith was on the charge, extending his lead to 26-14 with Chris locked in a close battle, now trailing 20-21. Away from home, the Mikey Titcombe rink were continuing to extend their lead, now ahead 22-7. The Scott Edwards rink were unfortunate to lose a few consecutive ends and were now trailing 7-17, but this left us with an overall lead of 16 shots, with ends running out for Malvern to catch us. Across the next few ends, we did not let up and maintained a strong lead, eventually running out winners by 19 shots overall and securing our place in the last 16 of the country. A great team performance which sets up a tie with Riverain, to be played on the 8th January.
Finally this week, we turn to the Wessex League and our local derby with Swindon Manor. Usually qualifying from the group for the play-offs, we went into this match as favourites, however the Manor certainly provided a good battle and all the way up to 15 ends it still could have gone either way.
At Home, Scott Edwards was locked in a good battle, level 4-4 after 5 ends, with Tom Pittuck’s rink leading 4-2 after 5 ends. Away from home, overall scores were even, with the Mikey Titcombe rink trailing 2-4, and Chris Cheesley leading 7-5.
Nearing the halfway mark and Westlecot had managed to build a slightly bigger lead although the game was still very tight. Mikey Titcombe’s rink had fallen further behind away, now trailing 4-10, with Chris Cheesley level at 9-9. Scott Edwards had just about edged in front 11-10 at home, whilst Tom Pittuck was currently making the difference between the two sides, pulling away into an impressive 15-3 lead.
It was between 15 ends and 21 ends that Westlecot finally managed to create some breathing space for themselves. The Scott Edwards rink found themselves trailing 15-16 at the 15 end mark, but scored 9 shots in the final 3 ends of the match to come out on top 28-17. Tom was leading 19-11 at 15 ends and scored a remarkable 19 shots without reply in the final 6 ends to win 38-11. Chris Cheesley’s rink despite being close for a majority of the match, managed to draw clear of their opposition and record a 7 shot victory. Unfortunately for Westlecot though, they were unable to claim the full 16 points on offer as despite clawing back to 16-16 with 3 ends to go, the Mikey Titcombe rink lost 6 shots without reply, losing 22-16 meaning an overall 106-67 and 14 points to 2 victory for Westlecot.
Overall, a successful week for Westlecot in national competitions. Plenty more to report on next week, it continues to be a busy period as we head towards Christmas!
Written by Mikey Titcombe