Monthly Archives: August 2016

Symmetry

After so many consecutive byes we had to remind ourselves of the rules in the Nines competition – one shot on each of the first two ends – as we played our last scheduled match, against Hexham House.   This home game was a repeat of last year’s final fixture, and once again it ended in near darkness despite the 18.30 start.

Dark it may have been, but our mood was considerably lighter.  We started the night six points ahead of Hirst Park, who lay bottom of the division, and badly needed another win to stay ahead of them whatever they achieved against Cramlington.  If that match was a near-derby our own game was very much one, and as ever the rivalry was intense but the general spirit very positive and friendly.

It didn’t look as if we were going to do very well at the outset: the pairs were soon 0-5 down while the triples let a 5-0 lead evaporate to fall behind; on a middle rink between the others the fours were 1-8 down after five ends, so all in all the scoreboards  were looking bottom-heavy.

The pairs gradually pulled back, however, and took charge between the tenth and fifteenth ends, moving into a lead of five. As the light faded Darren and Keith got stronger, and with two ends left they led 15-11, such that they were quite happy to accept the loss of a single on the penultimate end – not only was it the safe option, but it also gave Darren the last bowl, if needed.  In fact, it wasn’t, as we scored two and despite Clive Knott’s great efforts to shift the jack towards his back bowls the result was ours 17-11.

The fours had meanwhile gone down by more than 20 shots in a game where very little went right.   A visitor from another planet might deduce that to have four Davids in one team is not a good omen!  In fact, of course, they all tried as hard as they could, but it didn’t work on the night and that’s all there is to it.

After the triples lost their early lead they really struggled for several ends, but managed to keep the deficits down on each end, so that when – out of the blue – they bagged a six it took the score to 13-10 in our favour.  From this point it was again nip and tuck, although we did have a potential five snuffed out by Norman Brotherton’s excellent saver, which even earned him the shot.  By the same token, we went into the last end 17-13 ahead only to find ourselves four down as the skips went to bowl.  By a mixture of luck and judgment our final “pressure bowls” produced the right result and we were also happy to drop just one shot on that last end.

The result was therefore two rinks to one in our favour.  Under the scoring system used in the West Tyne or Collins and Shipley leagues we would have lost the game as a result of a bad result on one rink, but the Nines go on rinks won and that’s all that counts.  One oddity about the result was that whereas in the game at Hexham House (21 June) our pairs and triples lost narrowly while the fours won well (17-4), tonight was exactly the opposite – so in each fixture the home team won 6-2 on points despite losing on overall shots because of a large defeat for the fours.

The ladies had played their last (rearranged) match in the Collins and Shipley on the same day, but there was no need for any maths on the shots as all three rinks lost.  With promotion assured it was maybe a case of being mentally “on the beach” as the footballers say, but for whatever reason Seaton Delaval ensured that they exacted full revenge for the 12-0 score we enjoyed back in June.  You could have got good odds on a home win: before the game we were second in the league, with plus 118 shots; Seaton Delaval were second bottom with minus 116.  This symmetry of shots and league position was maintained after the result.  Thankfully the ladies won the games that really mattered, most notably against Morpeth, and they can now start preparing for life back in Division 1. Pre-season training starts on 1 March…

A further bit of symmetry involved the coincidence of our two winning skips in the Nines playing one another in the final of the men’s singles.  This was arranged at the last minute, so that even Jeremy Corbyn could have found a seat, but on a calm, sunny evening the few spectators saw Trevor beat Darren 21-13, having never been behind.  Darren did score two consecutive threes to bring the score to 11-10 against, but from then on he was restricted to singles. After a good deal of use for various competitions in recent days the green was running very well – a little ironic with the season about to end, but a credit to all David Ashworth’s unseen work.

With Trevor and Darren’s winning rinks each having scored 17 shots on Tuesday it was mildly intriguing that the pair then scored a total of 34 shots in their singles final.  But that number was due to reappear, as we played a friendly at Haltwhistle on a night that could have offered a definition of the word murky.  Only one of our four sets of triples won (making David Ashworth feel a lot better!), and indeed it was the only team to make double figures. Such was the struggle that we totalled only 34 shots across the four rinks – the trouble being that Haltwhistle scored 34 on rinks one and two, and exactly 34 more on the other two. Well, they are the league champions, cup holders and Gala Day winners, after all!  Just wait till next season…

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KO’d

There were again no league matches this week – but with our Open Mixed Triples coming up, plus the West Tyne Gala Day and some re-arranged matches there will be a flurry in the next couple of weeks.

The Mixed Triples report will be added later.  This blog is simply an update on the progress of our last remaining triples team in the West Tyne knock-out competition.  You may remember from last week’s post that we had a good win against a Haltwhistle team, winning 18-9 after being 3-8 down.

Well, you may not believe this, but we did exactly the same in the final – only in reverse!  Playing against Samantha, Penny and George Little, of Allen Valley, we scrapped away in the first few ends, and after nine ends (half-way) we led 8-5.  The only problem turned out to be that from that point on we didn’t score another point, losing nine ends and thereby losing the match 8-19.   We were, in a word, outplayed.  No ifs, no buts, no maybes.  We played the last end for the sake of form, and because it was the final, but when George rolled in the shot on the seventeenth end, depriving us of a three which might just have made the last end interesting, we knew our number was up. It wasn’t a very high number, either…

In one sense it wasn’t that bad a performance.  The first eight ends of our losing run lost only eleven shots, and in two consecutive ends we lost the shot despite having one of our bowls within a centimetre of the jack.  But that only shows how very consistent and accurate our opponents were.

The symmetry of the scoring patterns relative to last week was quite amazing.  Against Haltwhistle we won only three of the first nine ends; here we lost only three – and in both games the score was 8-5 after those nine ends.  The scores reached 8-8 in each match, and stood at 14-8 (for, then against) after 14 ends.  In each game the eventual winners went into the last end eight ahead.  And whereas last week we won nine of the last ten ends; this week we lost nine of the last ten.

For those stats to apply to any game is noteworthy; for them to be reversed in quite that fashion in consecutive games is more than a little odd.  Our thanks go to those brave supporters who came down and shared our frustration, and especially to Hexham House for the use of their green plus the welcome tea and biscuits afterwards.After two consecutive Final defeats we shall definitely be aiming for third time lucky next year.

 

OK in the KO

With byes in both the Nines and the West Tyne schedules, and with the ladies waiting for their one last rearranged match, there was little action last week.

The main competitive activity was in the West Tyne Triples tournament, where Trevor, Keith and Brian Norman played a semi-final against the Haltwhistle trio who did for us in the league game last week.  The match was played at Allendale, starting in bright conditions which soon became dull and then dark until the heavens opened and sent everyone diving for cover.  The dampness also brought out Allen Valley’s world-famous midgies, and of course because this was an afternoon fixture on a day that had been dry and sunny as we left Hexham, no one had thought of taking any spray.

However, there was plenty of spray on the green after the rain break, which came after 12 ends.  Prior to that Haltwhistle had started well, winning six of the first eight ends to go to 8-3, albeit aided by a couple of – how do we put this? – fortunate outcomes.  At this point David Boaden turned up as our sole supporter, and (just as had happened when he arrived at the first-round match at Hexham House) our fortunes changed.  In fact, they were totally transformed, as we won the next seven ends, scoring 13 shots in the process, so that we led 16-8 with three ends to go.

Mel Taylor then did draw a very good shot to get a single, but we played the last end with Haltwhistle needing a “hot shot” nine to win, and that was simply never going to happen. In a year when Haltwhistle have won the Cup and gone undefeated in the league it was satisfying to beat two of their triples teams in the last two rounds.

Last week Darren won the West Tyne singles title, the first time that our club has won it, and now we have a team in the triples final.  The same team lost the final last year, so there is an extra incentive to get that second trophy for the club.

I did say there wasn’t much to report…

Ladies show the way

The final league game of the West Tyne season pitted us against Haltwhistle on an evening when warm sunshine turned to ragged grey rain clouds within minutes, and within minutes of the start.   Haltwhistle were unbeaten in the league, and although there was now no way for us to win the title ourselves there was at least something to play for in wanting to be the first team to beat them this year.

It was a very tight game, and although there were some large fluctuations on a couple of rinks the overall balance was close.  On David Ashworth’s rink there were all sorts of high numbers of shots, and having gone from 13-4 to 13-14 in the space of a few ends they came back to win by ten (26-16).  At the opposite extreme, on Trevor’s rink the score was just 8-7 after 13 ends, and two ends later we were leading 10-9.  Sadly at this point Trevor played a recovery shot which went wrong, leading to a loss of three shots, and this reverse was followed by an even worse outcome on the penultimate end, losing a four.  The net result of this bad collapse at the end was a loss by seven shots, and that was the margin also on Brian Elstob’s rink.

This put us four shots behind overall, and heaped pressure on Darren’s rink, who were finishing well behind the others after a lot of inspections of the head.  At 13-13 with three ends to go there was still a chance, but the Haltwhistle team played really disciplined bowls, with Micky Rogan drawing a brilliant final shot to scupper our chances  on the sixteenth.  This rink lost 13-16, so that we went down 62-69 on the night – not a disgrace, but less than we wanted.  The fact that we had been ahead on overall shots all night until the fifteenth end (55-53 at that point) made the late loss of shots all the more disappointing.

If that was a case of “nearly did it”, the ladies certainly did do it the day before, beating Morpeth 67-22 and 12-0 on league points.  This win ensured a second-place finish in the Collins and Shipley league (Div 2), so yet again we shall change divisions next year.  Over the three rinks the opposition won only 13 ends of the 54, and our overall superiority was even greater than in the previous week’s match against Ponteland B (57-29).  This week two rinks scored 22 shots and the third 23; the previous week two rinks each scored 21 shots, each limiting the opposition to single figures.  This was a really strong finish to the season after a decided wobble in earlier weeks, and came in addition to the excellent performance of the ladies in the County finals on the previous weekend.

There is still one delayed match to be played, but the 12-0 win against Morpeth puts us beyond reach in second place – and too far behind leaders Chirton to create any pressure on the result.

The men had another blank week in the Nines.  The previous week Gosforth called off with 24 hours’ notice, allegedly unable to field a team – this, from the largest and most prestigious club  in the county.  One can only suppose that “unable” equals “unwilling”.  Considering the effort which Brian had put into eking out a team of our own this was a really disappointing outcome; we shall hope that the clubs are both willing and able to find a team when the game is eventually played.