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We truly are getting to the crunch point of the season in national competitions, with area finalists starting to be decided in some competitions, and our Denny Cup teams Quarter Final match right around the corner!

In this update, we have news from Westlecot’s involvement in the Mens and Ladies National 2 Wood, Mens National Fours and the Mixed Pairs. Also recently there has been action in the Mens Over 60 Singles and Pairs, and the Over 50 Triples.

In team competition, our Over 60’s Double Rink were in action in their last 32 tie against Havering, and a large number of Westlecot members participated in Wiltshire’s second round match in the Liberty Trophy against Oxfordshire.

We start this round-up with the Mens National 2 Wood, where our last remaining representative, Mikey Titcombe faced a home tie against John Cox of Chipping Norton, with a place in the area final up for grabs. Mikey didn’t get off to the best of starts, trailing 4-1 after the first few ends of the match. However, after this Mikey managed to settle, and forged ahead 10-4, before continuing to extend his lead and recording a comfortable 21-9 victory. Mikey moves into the area final, where he will face either Alan Symondson or Paul Maynard at a neutral venue, with a place at the National Finals at Nottingham up for grabs.

In the Ladies 2 Wood, Lucy Smith was in action against Sandra Kemp of Whiteknights, also with a place in the area final at stake. This was potentially a challenging match for Lucy, but she was in great form, not letting her opponent get a foothold in the match and easing to a 21-3 victory. Lucy now awaits the winner of Morgan Merryweather and Donna Knight in the area final, with a place at Nottingham once again up for grabs.

Which brings us onto the Mixed Pairs, where our sole representatives in this competition, Lucy Smith and Scott Edwards, travelled to Oxford City & County to take on Omar Sharif. Lucy and Scott are a strong pairing in this competition, and they proved it in this match, establishing a strong lead and maintaining it, running out 17-6 winners and advancing to the area final. Lucy and Scott will now take on Michael Knight, with a place at the Mixed Pairs finals at St Neots in February at stake.

In the National Fours, Westlecot had two representatives left, Dave Snell’s four skipped by Mel Biggs, and Neil Smith’s quartet. The two met in the area semi-final in a match that looked set to be a good quality affair. It did not disappoint, with Neil’s four having the better of the early stages, leading 7-4. However, a huge count of 6 for Dave and co turned the tides majorly. Neil’s four responded instantly with a 3 to level the match again, however this recovery was shortlived as they lost the next few ends to trail by 5 shots with 2 ends to go. A very good end from the leaders left Neil’s rink with no big opportunity of a count on the penultimate end, and could only manage 1 shot leaving a difficult ask of scoring a 4 on the final end to force an extra end. A good end of drawing and covering bowls from Dave’s quartet left Neil with a very difficult opportunity to make the 4 with his last bowl, and despite being very close to making it happen, he was just a fraction under and didn’t make the contact with the jack required. Dave and co now move on to represent us in the area final where they await the winner of the tie between Rob Newman and Malcolm Woodley.

We now move onto discuss the senior competitions. Firstly to the singles, where our final representative Chris Cheesley travelled to Oxford City & County to take on Paul Costin. Paul had put in a good performance when he came to Westlecot in the National Pairs a couple of weeks ago, so this was not going to be an easy game for Chris. This proved to be the case, as unfortunately for Chris, Paul continued his good form and despite this being a very tight run affair, Paul managed to come away with the win, 21-16.

In the Over 60 Pairs, Dave Matthews and Ian Farragher travelled to Oxford City & County to take on Omar Sharif. Away from home, this was going to be a tough test for Dave and Ian, and despite running Omar close for large parts of the game, they eventually fell to a 7 shot loss. We still have two pairs going in this competition, Chris Cheesley will take on Dave Snell, with the winner travelling to Oxford City & County to take on Omar in the next round.

In the Over 50s Triples, three of our triples have been in action, with two of them, Neil Smith and Dave Snell’s trios, facing off against each other. Our other triple, Ian Farragher and co travelled to Foxhill to take on a tough test in Steve Mead’s triple. Steve is a very good player and this was going to be a tough one for our triple, and it proved to be just that, as unfortunately they fell to a 20-7 loss.

In the all Westlecot affair, the Neil Smith trio had to weather a serious storm as they were put under all kinds of pressure by the Dave Snell trio. This game was, as expected a tight one throughout with neither team establishing a strong lead throughout. Just as it looked as though Dave and co were becoming favourites for the match, Neil’s side managed to hang in there for most of the game and managed to just edge in front and secure the win by a single shot. They now face a home tie against Barry Romain of Swindon Manor in the area Quarter-Final.

We now move onto the team events, and shortly following our narrow victory to advance to the Quarter Finals of the Denny Cup, Westlecot were in action once again, with the Over 60’s Double rink A side bidding to become the second of our club teams to have a strong run in a national competition this season. They travelled to Egham, being used as a neutral venue for the last 32 clash with Havering. This match was incredibly tight all the way through, with both sides trading blows throughout the match. As the game drew closer to a conclusion, Westlecot managed to sneak in front, but the lead was only marginal, and Havering still had a chance going into the last end. After a dramatic last end with the head changing all the time, Havering couldn’t quite manage to secure the shots they required to either force an extra end or win the match, and Westlecot progressed into the last 16 of the competition! We will now face Whiteknights on the 8th February, with a place in the Quarter Finals up for grabs!

We also saw a return to action for our Wessex League side, who so far this season have secured 44 out of a possible 48 points. This match was going to be a tough one though, as we faced a strong Loddon Vale side, who we always enjoy a good battle with.

This match was no different, with it being very difficult to split the two teams for a vast majority of the match. It was Loddon Vale who dealt what looked to be the killer blows though, with Mikey Titcombe’s rink dropping a big count, and Paul Kistle’s rink also dropping shots towards the end of the match, leading to Westlecot trailing by 10 shots overall, with 4 ends to go across the board. Mikey Titcombe managed to score a 3 on the last end away from home, and at the same time Scott scored a 2 on his 19th end, leaving Scott’s rink needing to score 5 shots from his last 2 ends to draw the match, or 6 shots to take the spoils. They got off to a great start to this shot chase, Scott scoring a 3, leaving just 2 in the match. Unfortunately by the finest of margins on the final end, we failed to score the 2 we required, scoring just a single to leave us with a 1 shot defeat. The blow is softened slightly by Tom Pittuck and Scott Edwards both winning their rinks, meaning we don't come away empty handed and with 4 points added to our tally for the season.

A great effort by all involved, but not quite meant to be. Fortunately the league table still makes for promising reading, and two big performances in our last fixtures will still see us qualify for the end of season playoffs.

Lastly, a huge well done to all of our players involved in the Liberty Trophy victory over Oxfordshire. This looked as though it was going to be a fairly tight game, with very little in it early on and still only 20 shots in it at the halfway stage. However, Wiltshire then stepped on the accelerator, and pulled away to a comprehensive 62 shot victory, with most rinks winning comfortably. Wiltshire now look forward to an away tie against Devon on the 19th February!

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