Monthly Archives: May 2018

One Shot is Enough

arizona asphalt beautiful blue sky

Photo by Nextvoyage on

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.

road trip


The week started well with a win for the Nines team – our first this year.  The pairs had a good tussle in the early stages, 3-3 after five ends and then 7-8 after twelve, but then scoring a 3 and a 6 gave them breathing space and the final result was 21-11.  That left Darren undefeated in the pairs games this year.

The triples were also in a close game early on, 4-4 after six ends and 9-9 after twelve, but they came on well after that to win 16-12.  Some little credit is due to the team selectors, who adjusted the team formations on the night to give just the right balance: those two wins were enough to seal the overall win, but even had one of them lost the fours chalked up a 23-11 win that was actually even easier than the score suggests.

So that was an 8-0 points win, and the ladies improved on it next day (numerically, at least) with a 12-0 win against Ponteland.  We have no details of this win, which was clearly also three rinks to none, other than the fact that one of our teams was a player short – so that particular win must have been big enough to allow for losing a quarter of the score.

The next night (Thursday) we travelled to Allen Valley, who were no doubt buoyed by their win at Haltwhistle the previous week.  Our star-studded line-up is captured on the new cover photo for our Facebook page, and the FB photo montage shows it as being a nice, sunny evening albeit with several fleeces on view.  In the end it was the home team that was fleeced:  after 15 of the 18 ends we were actually 44-46 down, but a really strong performance in the last three ends meant that we won 65-50 overall, with three of the four rinks winning.  The game was obviously much closer than that 6-1 result suggests, but whatever, it meant three league wins out of three in the week. It’s a while since that happened!

With those wins out of the way, a friendly at Gosforth on Friday was, well, just a friendly. Despite having some strong sets of triples our teams might seem to have had one eye on the mouth-watering tea provided by our hosts, and two rinks went down by exactly 20 shots each.   Perhaps we had better just stress that it finished three rinks apiece and that we won the tie=break by securing all three raffle prizes.  Another hat-trick…

We’re Back!

After the cold winds of April had made us wonder whether the green would be ready in time for the new season the sun came out at the end of the month for our first club sessions at Elvaston.  Unfortunately for those who had put themselves down to play in the Nines, the first match of the season was over at Blyth, against New Delaval, and it was a cold, wet evening by the sea, with the rain relenting only in the last fifteen minutes or so.

New Delaval had won Division 2 of the Nines at a canter last year, and we therefore expected a tough game.  It did indeed turn out to be very close.  The pairs started well, and even after losing a six, and then a four, managed to be just 15-17 down with two ends to play.  On the penultimate end there was a strong shout for it to be our shot, but the measure showed it was New Delaval’s by a quarter of an inch, so that we needed three on the last to make a draw, but got only one.

New Delaval fielded a very young team on all rinks, but really rubbed it in with a 13-year old playing lead in the fours. We were 1-8 down at one stage but then came back strongly to lead 12-10 with just three ends to go.  However, one unfortunate end let the opponents back in, and we actually lost the last three ends to finish 12-14 down.  So two rinks had lost by two shots each.

That meant that the overall match was lost, irrespective of a narrow shots margin which became even narrower when our triples won by one shot.  We led all through until end 14, but then pulled back a small deficit to make it even after 16 ends.  A three on the next end gave us breathing space, and although the opposition skip moved the jack with a bold shot on the last end it produced just two shots, so at least one rink had earned a win.

High Heaton had postponed the match due for the Friday, so our next opponents were even more difficult than the first, in the form of Backworth.  Again the pairs match was close, level after five ends and again (14-14) after 16 ends.  We then scored a one and a three to win 18-14.

The triples found it hard to get going, the more so in light of being on the wrong end of a couple of absurd flukes for which the opponents (to their credit) apologised.   An early 0-7 score was reduced to 5-7 before another bad spell (and two more flukes) meant it was 5-17, before finishing at 11-20.

The fours had the classic game of two halves, playing well early on to lead 9-8 after 10 ends.  But somehow, when no one was looking, Backworth took over, and we scored only one more shot to lose 10-23.

That meant another 2-6 defeat on league points, but the fact that New Delaval beat our local rivals at Hexham House 8-0 shows that they are going to make a big impact this year, while on the evidence of recent years it is an achievement to get any points at all off Backworth.  So let’s see how things go in May as the teams start to gel.

In the Collins and Shipley the ladies went to Morpeth with only 11 players.  One rink therefore played one short and lost a quarter of their score as a penalty.  Despite that handicap the other two rinks did very well to ensure that the final aggregate score was in our favour, and we came away with an 8-4 win on points.

To finish this first, elongated week of the league season we had a home game against Alston in the West Tyne league. This time it was our turn to be playing with a full team against a depleted visiting side.  The advantage for the short-handed rink is quite great in playing terms, as the two Alston players each had four bowls while one of our team (Keith, as skip) had only two.   On this rink we led for almost every end until the sixteenth of the full 18, at which point, leading 12-11, the Alston skip fired for the umpteenth time in the match and managed to turn a likely deficit on the end into a four-shot score.  Alston then won the other ends to “win” 18-12 – which is where the penalty of one third of the score came into play, reducing their total to 12 and making it a draw.

That was the only (half) point that Alston scored on the night, but in fact the match was much closer than the points score would suggest.  Darren and Malcolm Cooper’s rinks each won by three shots, but they were both trailing with (respectively) two and three ends to play.  Steve Bennett’s rink had the most comfortable win, 24-11, although this was also the result of a late surge after being just 8-6 up after ten ends.

Other results meant that after one whole game we are top of the embryonic league table.  But then, West Brom were unbeaten after two games this season and that didn’t finish well, did it?…