Monthly Archives: June 2015

Always Look on the Bright Side…

Some draws feel like defeats, while others can feel like a win.  It was definitely the latter on Tuesday, as we came from behind to grab a draw with Hexham House in the Nines and maintain our points lead over them in the table.

The pairs got off to a bad start, and ended up taking the sort of defeat they have been handing to others lately.  Down 1-17 after ten ends they did make it more respectable by coming back to 8-24, but the result was never in doubt.  There was plenty of doubt about the other rinks, however, with each of them behind at various points.  The fours were ahead early on, then found themselves 10-15 down around the half-way mark.  From here it was a struggle, but they narrowed the gap to one with a couple of ends to go, and finished up winning 19-18 – the first rink to actually finish and providing a boost for the triples, who still had two to play.

The triples had struggled early on, losing the first five ends but at least holding the score to 0-5. Then, with a six to help, they were ahead after ten and fifteen ends before losing two ends and going into the last end three down.  An adventurous bowl by Brian Norman gave the others something to aim for and with the last bowl of the night we secured the three shots which drew that rink and the whole match.  Considering the triples won only seven of the 18 ends it was a bit of a smash-and-grab raid, but as we all know these things happen.

They certainly didn’t happen for the ladies in their Collins and Shipley match at Amble.  Losses by 11, 12 and 15 shots on the three rinks sent them to their heaviest defeat of the season.  Last week we were seeing causes for optimism in the way matches are scheduled, but you would have to be an extreme optimist to find positives in this result.  As in, “at least it wasn’t 40 shots”…

Several of the ladies were in action again the next day, with Jean and Betty getting to the final of the County over-55’s by virtue of a great win over Norma Craig and Pat Brown at Burradon.  Ever eager to get on the green, Jean promptly turned out for the West Tyne match at Haltwhistle in the evening.  Somehow the threatened rain got no worse than a light drizzle all evening, and we got away not only with the weather but also with a really good result –  a win, a loss and two drawn rinks.  The two draws were a bit careless, as one came from a three given away on the last end, while the other came after dropping a five on the penultimate end.  Nevertheless, you would always settle for a 5-2 points win at Haltwhistle, and David Ashworth’s 27-8 defeat of David Lee’s rink is bound to be one of the stand-out results of the season.

It’s not all good news.  Jean and Trevor were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the County Mixed Pairs, well beaten by Liz Emerson and David Crozier of Ponteland.  Losing ten shots on the bounce to go 3-16 down was a bad start but it still left plenty of time, and with nine shots of our own it came back to 12-16, then 14-17.  Even with two ends to go it was just 18-22, but a good end for the Ponteland pair effectively sealed the deal and the last end was played in the vain hope of trying to burn it simply in order to earn another chance to score a seven!  What was that about extreme optimism?

Next week (beginning 29 June) there will be no competitive matches: not only do the ladies have a bye, but a number of the men are away with the Gosforth Tourists, so that the Nines and West Tyne games have been postponed.  The next match reports will be in two weeks, on or around 11 July.  

Some Optimism

The week had a full variety of matches, ranging from friendlies through league matches to a Cup semi-final, and in all 30 members had at least one game.

Five triples turned out for the friendly at Consett on Sunday. This was our second visit to Sherburn Park, and the welcome and hospitality were as warm and fulsome as on the inaugural match two years ago.   The sides were extremely well matched, and by about halfway it was becoming obvious that there would be one rink well ahead for each club, with the other three pretty close.  So it proved, and not only that but the shots ended 78-all, which for a friendly really couldn’t be better.  The supply of cakes and sandwiches and pies and tarts and marshmallows seemed to go on for ever, and when all that was finished there was a very generous raffle.  The only thing which some of us might have changed (given that it was a friendly) would be to have the usual 18 ends with one shot on the first two ends, instead of 16 with a couple of trials – but this was no big deal.

By Friday it was time for a longer trip, to Alnwick, where the tea was also fulsome and the hospitality excellent; even the weather was brighter than it was in Hexham.  The only thing wrong with the day was the eventual score (as if that matters in a friendly), but at least one of our new members, John McArdle, finished on our top rink on his début.  And on a day when four of our new members played in the match (whenever could we last say that?) we received two more application forms: things are looking up.

They were already looking up after the West Tyne Cup semi-finals on Thursday.   Hexham House were playing over at Alston, and despite winning one rink 32-13 they lost the other two, so that Alston made it to the final.  Whether they would play ourselves or Allen Valley was in doubt until the last few minutes of our match at Allendale.  Ken’s rink was well ahead early on, and then maintained that advantage to win by six shots; but Trevor’s Trio did the reverse, falling well behind in the early stages and just failing to catch up, losing by three.  It’s just as well that David Ashworth, Blanche and Alan stuck in after losing an early five, coming back to win by just one.   Because of our overall shots advantage Allen Valley needed a five on the last end here, but managed just a three – altogether too close for comfort!   The final will be played on the Chairman’s green, as always, and that gives Alston home advantage – it’s a good job we have a league game there before that to get a bit of practice.

In the Nines we stayed top of the table with a good win over Wallsend Park B.  The match had some pretty ridiculous scores.  Darren and Peter lost the first two ends, and after five ends were 2-4 down, but at this point they stopped dealing in singles, losing only two more ends to finish 31-8 ahead with the final 16 shots unanswered.  They polished off the match several ends before the other two rinks, both of which finished with a scoreline of 26-6 – but unfortunately only one of them (the triples) was in our favour, with the fours winning only four ends, including a three on the last.  The Wallsend skip in the fours said that the last time he was here, in a National competition, the present clubhouse wasn’t even there – but he and his team played as if they were regular visitors.

The ladies had a heavy defeat at Burradon in the Collins and Shipley (no details are available, but let’s just say that we failed to trouble the scorers); however, other results meant that their mid-table position is still secure, and once this run of difficult away matches is over there should be an easier run-in with four home games at the end.  That’s the thing about bowls – there’s always a reason to be optimistic, somewhere…

Black Wednesday

Bell Cup playersWednesday 10 June may have been just about the best day of the year so far for weather, but it certainly didn’t have matching success on the green.  At least the men looked the part for the Bell Cup, held at Alnwick, but the smiles in the photo reflected our only win of the day, before lunch.

After that it was all downhill, and for yet another year we finished bottom of the pile on qualifying day.  We really must do better next time. Four games of 11 elevens for each of the two rinks, and although we weren’t outclassed in the various games there were too many big scores against us, and in this round robin format that’s fatal.   But the weather and the food were great, so as Ken said, if you leave aside the bowls, getting two out of three wasn’t bad.

The ladies were meanwhile at Bedlington Dr Pit in the Collins and Shipley, and even if they had got two rinks out of three they might not have won the points, since one rink went down 7-26.  The other two rinks finished one shot up and one shot down, showing that the ladies aren’t out of their depth in this league, but such a heavy defeat is almost bound to sink the ship.  It was another 2-10 defeat overall, but in fairness that was against the team who were in second position, so depending on other results it needn’t be seen as a great setback.

The previous night the Nines nine had gone to Heaton Victoria sitting top of the table but knowing that the Heaton team always give us a very close game.  On a lovely evening it was nice to see club shirts still visible during the second half of the game rather than being submerged in thick layers.

The playing surface was flat and green, but in other terms it was a disappointment, with straight runs on all the rinks.  More than one of our players could be heard complaining that this was more like skittles than bowls.  It didn’t matter how much bias your bowls normally took, on these rinks one hand would be uniformly straight, and once there were a couple of bricks in the wall in front of the jack the only way to shift things was with a direct hit.

The fours found the way to deal with it early on, and after a couple of big scores were home and hosed by about the tenth end – the final margin was 23-12.  The pairs also won, albeit much more closely and with a chance that it might all go wrong on the last end if the Heaton skip had made the right connection; 13-9 showed how close the game was.  The triples really struggled, never once in the lead and watching end after end disappear with ones or twos, so that the final score of 8-19 was disappointing but not unfair.  Anyway, apart from the minor detail of a 44-40 win on shots, that meant a 6-2 win on points, consolidating top position after a tricky night out.

Thursday saw the West Tyne team turn out at Allendale, where the green has been hugely improved over recent years.  On yet another calm, fine night we were playing alternate ends directly into the setting sun, which a few players found tricky – especially if they hadn’t taken a hat – but overall it was a comfortable win, with three rinks ahead and one losing after dropping two consecutive fives just before the end.  This came about largely as a result of a firing lead, and clearly requires some tactical thinking before we go back there next Thursday for a Cup semi-final!  And this time we’ll all take hats…

(Next post due: 21 June)

Up and Down

After last week’s successes there was almost bound to be a return to mixed results, and so it proved.

The closest league match of the week was certainly the  West Tyne game against Hexham House. Both teams were missing a few players, but the overall standard was still very good, and it made quite a difference playing on a calm, sunny evening.  One rink finished one shot up to Hexham House, one finished one up to us, and a third was drawn, so things there could hardly be closer; unfortunately one of our rinks lost by nine shots and of course that was the overall margin, with Hexham House getting the shots bonus.  On our winning rink Darren saved a point on the final end, drawing second shot to ensure the one-shot win, and not even risking his final bowl.

In the Collins and Shipley league the ladies had a difficult day on a very heavy green at Whitley & Monkseaton.  It was apparently quite an effort to get bowls up to full length, and a real struggle, with only one rink winning and a long trip home after a 2-10 defeat.

There was no such problem with heavy greens at Gosforth when Trevor and Jean played their Mixed Pairs game against a Gosforth team.  The bowls were, as they say, flyin’, especially in the direction where they were wind-assisted on one of the windiest June days on record. This didn’t make for very accurate bowling, but both sides were equally disadvantaged, and it was a close match throughout – for example, just 8-7 to the home team after 12 ends.  We then moved ahead 13-8, but back they came to within a single shot, and it was only on the twentieth end that a four put us in a comfortable position, seven up with one end to play.

Even by the end of the week the wind was still blowing strong, causing mild havoc at the Challenge Cup competition at Cowpen and Crofton.   This time it was a cross-wind, which made things difficult in both directions – in fact, this was the biggest challenge of the day. Hats and bits of foliage were blown across the green from time to time, and the scoreboard cards had to be tied with thick elastic bands, or otherwise they were flicking over like the old-fashioned departure boards at airports.  Anyway, there were just four clubs in the pool, so it turned into a round robin of three matches of 15 ends, with each club having two rinks.  So each club played two games against the other three, with results based on the aggregate scores over the two “legs”.  Against the home team our “B” rink lost by three, but the “A” rink won by four; and against Tynemouth the “B” rink’s four-shot defeat was matched by a five-shot win for the “A” group – so both matches were the narrowest of wins.  Against Haltwhistle, however, our luck (or rather, our skill) ran out, and both rinks lost, quite deservedly and with no room for debate.  Good luck to Haltwhistle in the final.

Finally, the Nines team had a big win (8-0) against Forth on the Tuesday night.  The wind that day had calmed down a bit and somehow the heavy black clouds produced nothing more than scattered showers so that the game went the distance – fortunately for us, as the pairs were behind for quite a long time.  The triples had an easy 24-9 win that came out even bigger when Forth lost a quarter of their score for having only three players, while the triples clocked up 30 shots.  With Hexham House winning big over at North Shields we therefore went to the top of the table, still with a game in hand over North Shields.  Next week it’s Heaton Victoria, who in recent seasons have always given us a really good game, so we can expect something much tougher, even if the weather is bound to be better.  Isn’t it?…