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In a slightly quieter week in terms of team competition, we still saw plenty of National Competition action, with two first rounds in the Fours, two 060 Singles matches, a National Singles second round, and our Under 30’s taking on defending champions Wey Valley in the double triples competition.

We start the week with Neil Smith’s quartet, who travelled to Carterton to face Craig Morphet in the opening round of the National Fours. It was a bright start, with Westlecot building a strong lead across the first 12 ends of the match, leading 15-6 and seemingly heading towards a relatively comfortable win. That couldn’t have been further from the truth, as Carterton rallied, scoring a 3, a 5 and a 2 in succession to lead by one shot with 3 ends to go. Westlecot needed to re-group, which they did and managed to edge back in front, leading 18-16 going into the last end and despite a very close call on the last end with some great bowls played by both sides, Westlecot dropped a single shot, meaning a one shot victory in a see-saw battle. Neil and co now advance to play at home against Brackley's Alan Dunkley in round 2.

Later in the week in the same competition, Dave Snell’s quartet opened their account against Chipping Norton’s AJ Docherty & co. On paper this was a tough fixture for our four, however they really hit the ground running, establishing a strong lead early on and never looking back, running away with a comfortable 20-3 victory. A great start for Dave’s rink who move onto round 2 to face an away fixture against either Nick Rae-Welsh or Martin Shepherd’s four.

Moving on, we saw 3 of our members in action in the Over 60 Singles this week. Chirs Cheesley and Ian Farragher played each other in an all Westlecot affair, whilst Barry Pittuck travelled to Oxford & District to play former Westlecot member Mike Linn.

Unfortunately for Ian, Chris was in good form and he could not find a way into the match early on, Chris establishing a big lead. Chris continued to pull away and eventually ran out a 21-4 winner. A good start for Chris, who now moves into the second round where he will travel to Oxford City & County to play Paul Costin.

Barry Pittuck faced a tough test, travelling to Oxford & District to take on Mike Linn. Barry certainly gave it his best, this was a fairly competitive affair with Barry proving to be stern opposition for Mike, who eventually managed to come out on top 21-13. This leaves us with 2 competitors left in the competition, Chris Cheesley who is safely into round 2, and Dave Snell who is still to play his opening round match.

On Friday evening, Mikey Titcombe took the long journey to Slade to take on Dennis Gregory in the second round of the National Singles, and it became apparent very quickly that he may have his work cut out. Dennis scored a 3 on the opening end to get off to a near perfect start. Mikey managed to get out in front around the halfway point, and extended his lead to 13-8 and was holding a 4 to pull even further away from Dennis, but a great runner meant the end was killed and replayed. Before Mikey knew it, the gap had been cut to just 2 shots at 16-14. Panic could well have set in at this point, but Mikey regrouped and scored a 3 before ditching the jack on the next end to score the final 2 shots he needed, winning the game 21-14. Mikey advances to the third round but credit to Dennis for a very solid performance. Mikey now sets up an interesting area quarter-final at home against either fellow clubmate Scott Edwards or Chipping Norton’s AJ Docherty.

The final event of the week was Saturday’s Under 30 Two Triples clash with Wey Valley, the defending champions of the competition. Looking at the strength of the Wey Valley side, this was going to be a huge ask for Westlecot to compete with them.

The first end showed positive signs for our team with both our triples winning the ends. However, following on from this it became apparent the enormity of the task in front of us, with Wey Valley beginning to dominate and establishing a strong lead. It was looking very bleak after 2 thirds of the game had been completed, but a strong turnaround and a succession of winning ends from the Mikey Titcombe trio brought the game a lot closer, whilst Josh Fail had played some fantastic bowls to prevent Wey Valley from picking up some big counts which probably would have put the game to bed. This left Westlecot trailing by just 5 shots with both triples having an end to play.

A very fortunate result from Mikey’s last bowl meant they managed to score a 2 on the last end, leaving Josh needing 4 shots to win the match for us, or 3 shots to take it to an extra end. After a fantastic last bowl from Lucy Smith at 2, it left Josh the opportunity to win the match for Westlecot. His last bowl just ran through, meaning they scored a 3 to take the match to an extra end, with the Mikey Titcombe triple playing it. A great bowl from the Wey Valley lead and some good head building from the Wey Valley trio made it quite difficult for Mikey, who unfortunately could not find the winning bowl, missing his last marginally wide meaning the tournament is over for Westlecot.

A brilliant effort by our youngsters, who were definitely not expected to run a very strong and experienced side this close. It certainly bodes well for the future of the club!

So there goes another week! Next week may be a little quieter on the national competition front, as at the weekend we have our annual tournament, which returns after having to be cancelled in 2020 due to the dreaded pandemic! We’re thoroughly looking forward to welcoming everyone back!

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