This report (totally reliant on details provided by roving reporter Brian Norman) is sent from British Columbia, just after reading a report on the Vancouver Whitecaps’ recent “road game” in Texas. Texas? Road game! I mean, the nearest big city from Vancouver is Seattle, in the States, only 140 miles but two and a half hours by road, so quite how that expression comes from is a mystery. Anyway (or “anyways” as they say here), Heaton Victoria in the Nines definitely is a “road game”.
After last week’s 100% record in competition the chances of a repeat this week were a little less than 100%, but the Nines made a good start. The triples had a sense of being hard done by early on, as the Heaton skip kept nicking the shot so that we were 1-7 down after six ends. However, the next six went 17-2 in our favour, to give us an 18-9 lead, and from there it was easy to see the game out at 20-12. The fours were equally, or even more, impressive. Here the score was 3-3 after five ends but 17-3 after fourteen! The final score was 20-7. So the match was won, and the question was, by how many points. The pairs had led 3-1 after four ends, then slipped behind at 4-11 before fighting back to 12-all with three ends to go. They then dropped a one and a three so were 12-16 down going into the last end. They managed just a three to lose 15-16.
So one more shot could have made it 7-1 on points, but in the light of early defeats, and several defeats at Heaton over the years, the 6-2 was very acceptable. The overall shots score was 55-35, which is pretty good for a road game!
The West Tyne match was a top-of-the-table game against Hexham House B. Each side won two rinks, but in this league shots count for a lot. Our two defeats were by seven and ten shots, though it must be said that the seven margin was a great effort after the rink went 0-9 down after just five ends.
Our first win was a tight (indeed, miserly) match, with five shots scored on the first five ends, 12 in total after ten, and ourselves in the lead 10-8 after fifteen ends. True to form, only three shots came on the last three ends, and we won 12-9. This low score was the main reason why this fixture had the second-lowest shots total of the season so far in the West Tyne league.
The last rink also saw a tight match: we were leading 3-2 after five ends and then just one shot down (7-8) after ten; at 17-12 after fifteen ends it looked like a case of “job done” but Hexham House came back and we were probably relieved the game finished after 18 ends with a one-shot win (18-17). But that was enough to give us a rink point, and make it 2-5 in league points on the night. At least that meant that Hexham House are now ahead of us only on shots.
It was a punishing schedule for some, as the men had a friendly at Portland on Friday afternoon, with one of our triples (Brian, Mark and Keith) playing there in the evening as well in a County triples. Naturally they made sure they played together in the afternoon and had a handy 21-6 win in a match that was reduced to fifteen ends because of a heavy and prolonged shower. Steve Benson’s rink did even better, 28-6, against useful opposition, and it is fair to say that with a score of 72-33 after fifteen ends, there would have been no way back for Portland even if the rain had relented.
None of the Portland trio in the evening game had played in the friendly. Because everyone was on site the game started 45 minutes early, although this didn’t help our cause. It had stopped raining but the green was still saturated – presumably because the green was so baked from recent good weather. Our team got off to a terrible start and were 2-15 down around the half-way stage, but then fought back to 14-16 and were lying shot on the penultimate end until the Portland skip got the shot with his last wood to make it 14-17 rather than the rather more likely-looking 15-16. So we needed four on the final end. After Brian and Mark had bowled we were indeed lying four as Mark neatly took their nearest wood out. This left the jack about an inch behind one of Brian’s woods and Portland had plenty of back woods. The skip could have drawn for third shot but decided to try to hit Brian’s wood and send the jack back. He missed. Three times. So we won 18-17: one shot is all you need.
Oh, and it was Portland, Newcastle, not Portland, Oregon.