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Another week closer to Christmas and another week of National Competitions to report on. It’s been a slightly quieter week, but there was still plenty of action including Neil and Lucy Smith playing in the Mens and Ladies Champion of Champions Area Finals respectively. We had an area Quarter-Final clash in the National Singles between two of our members, and another all Westlecot affair in the opening round of the Family Pairs. Also, our Mens Over 60 Double Rink A team were in action, facing a tough tie against Desborough A in their opening match.

First off this week, Lucy Smith took on Morgan Merryweather in the Area Final of the Womens Champion of Champions, with a place at the national finals at Dolphin, against Amy Banes of Swale, up for grabs. In their previous rounds, Lucy had secured a comfortable 21-9 win over Jeanette Berry of Oxford City & County, whilst Morgan had edged out Donna Knight, in a game that could not have been any closer, getting over the line 21-20.

With this being an area final, the match was played at a neutral venue and it was Morgan who got off to a strong start, settling to the carpet and establishing an early lead. Unfortunately for Lucy, Morgan was not going to take her foot off the gas and pulled away to record a comfortable win and secure her place in the national finals. Commiserations to Lucy who will no doubt be back in more area finals this season, and good luck to Morgan at Dolphin.

We then move onto Neil Smith, who travelled to the neutral venue of West Berks on Sunday Morning to take on John McGuinness in what looked set to be a great match up in the Area Final of the Mens Champion of Champions. Again, a place at Dolphin in the National Finals was up for grabs for the winner, who would take on Tom Segolo of Norfolk.

Quite often in these matches played at neutral venues, the player who can adjust and settle to the carpet quicker has a big advantage. In this instance, it was John who adjusted to the carpet a little better than Neil did and despite this being a good game of bowls and fairly tight for most of the game, John eventually managed to pull away and secure a 21-12 win and book his place in the National Finals. Much like Lucy, Neil has plenty more to play for this season and will undoubtedly be seen in area finals again this season. Good luck to John at Dolphin in February.

In the first of 2 nationals for him this week, Mikey Titcombe took on clubmate Scott Edwards in the National Singles. Both these players have previously qualified through this area for the National Finals, and this looked set to be a great game, with a place in the Area Semi-Final up for grabs for the winner.

It was Mikey who got off to a brilliant start, racing into an 8-0 lead early on. Either player also knew that getting off to a good start like this wasn’t going to seal the victory, as both are more than capable of battling back. However, Mikey was determined to keep pushing forward, and produced a very strong display throughout to maintain a big advantage and secure the win. Mikey now awaits the winner of another all Westlecot match between Neil Smith and Chris Cheesley in the area Semi-Final.

On Sunday, Mikey then teamed up with Jake Webster, to take on Tom and Barry Pittuck in an all Westlecot clash in the opening round of the National Family Pairs. Jake and Mikey got off to a very good start, establishing a 9-0 lead early on. However, Tom and Barry rallied, reducing the gap to 9-6. At this point, Jake and Mikey managed to take the momentum back and pulled away to lead 18-6. Tom and Barry did respond again, reducing the gap to 21-14, however with ends running out it left them needing two big counts on the final two ends to complete the comeback, and it wasn’t to be with Jake and Mikey winning the next end to secure the win. Jake and Mikey will now play at home again, against a familiar foe of Westlecot in AJ Docherty of Chipping Norton.

Also this week, we saw our first action in the Ladies Over 60 Pairs competition, with Wendy Anderson and Janet Willis opening their account at home against Laura Laytham of Swindon Manor. On paper this was a tough test for our pair, however they were up to the task and managed to secure an impressive 17-5 win to advance to the next phase. They will now take on Jeanette Berry, once again at home, in the Area Semi Final.

In the National Over 60 Double Rink after being awarded a walkover in the opening round, our A team finally took to the carpet to face a strong Desborough A side, who in the earlier rounds had beaten our B team by 14 shots. Would it be a case of repeat or revenge for Westlecot this time?

This was, as expected, a good battle between two very strong sides who are both capable of having a good run in this competition. The quality of the Desborough side was evident throughout, with the match being very close all the way to the final few ends. Fortunately for our men, they managed to produce the key bowls at the conclusion of the match to secure an overall 2 shot win and advance to the next round. This puts us through to the Last 32 of the country, where we will face Havering on the 11th January. Well done to all involved!

That’s all for another week. There will be another report shortly after the Christmas period, with an update on all the national competition action that has happened. Wishing all of our members a very Merry Christmas and we look forward to the action resuming fully in the New Year!

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