After several dismal days the sun came out on Wednesday both in Hexham, for the ladies’ Collins and Shipley match, and even more so over at Seaton Delalval, where the men played Astley Park in the Clegg league.
At Astley Park the men arrived from all sorts of directions after work, and after this logistical triumph the actual game seemed quite relaxing. Not that it was straightforward: Malcolm’s rink went well ahead, only to be pegged back at 10-10 halfway through, then again took the lead before finding themselves at 15-15 with three ends left. A three at this point made things look happier, and a 19-16 win was the right result in that they had been behind only once, at 1-2. Astley Park’s top rink gave Phil’s rink a good run: we were 0-5 down after five ends but (showing the value of that sort of containment) then went 7-5 ahead. However, the score then ended up being tied on four more occasions, including after 18 ends, so by winning the last three ends to win 19-12 our team did really well. On the other two rinks Craig and Trevor seemed to be in a contest for top rink scores, both leading 20-5 near the end, but Craig’s rink carried on their run without dropping another shot to win by twenty while Trevor lost five of the last six ends to finish at walking pace, ten shots up.
Overall that was enough for a shots win of 85-45, and more importantly a 14-0 win for the third week in succession. Next week will be more a struggle, with several regulars away on the Gosforth Bowlers Tour, but at least we have a good margin of safety at the top of the table. Also very encouraging was that two of our new members, Ian and Peter, made league débuts and fitted in really well. The words ducks and water sprang to mind.
Last week we saw how far the ladies had come this year when they regarded a mere draw against Burradon as something of a lost opportunity. At the start of the season, with three consecutive defeats, there was still a sense that the performance each time was better than the result, and that belief is now paying off. This week we hosted third-placed Amble. Jean’s rink were never behind, though after 15 ends neither side had scored more than a two, and we were just 10-7 ahead with three to go. So what a time it was to pick up a five, allowing everyone to relax and win the last two ends as well for a 21-7 win.
Susan’s rink were similarly limited to ones and twos for the first 15 ends, at which point they were 9-12 down. So here too the sixteenth end was crucial, as they levelled it with a three, and then, after losing a single, picked up two on the last end to win 14-13. This was a really determined effort, and well-worth the two points. Meanwhile, on the third rink, Shelagh had seen an 8-3 lead disappear to level 8-8 at the halfway point, but then, in spectacular fashion, won all nine of the remaining ends to win 23-8. Last week the whole team had collapsed in the last 12 ends across the board; this week was a massive improvement, winning 20 of the last 27 played and turning the half-time scoreline of 21-23 into a resounding 58-28 win. A “second-half team”! Other results aren’t yet in, but based on form and likely outcomes there’s every chance that this performance has lifted us well up the table, into at least fourth place.
Partly as a result of our continuing success in various County events, it was a bit hard making up the numbers for the West Tyne game at Allen Valley on Thursday, but thanks to the willingness of several new members and at least one old stalwart who had been looking forward to a quiet evening, the match went ahead with a full complement.
It was a lovely, cloudless evening in Allendale, with the usual friendly greetings. The treatment on the green was a little less cordial, however, as one of our rinks went down 7-26 and the other by 12-19. Fortunately for us these were the two strongest home rinks and the other two went in our favour by rather similar scores, 29-7 for Mark’s rink and 25-7 for John Lambert’s. Our various débutants had mixed fortunes in terms of results, but if there is anywhere to be introduced to the pleasures of West Tyne bowls it is Allendale, with or without the midgies. Thanks to our two large winning margins the overall score was 73-59 and the three bonus points made it 5-2 on the night. By coincidence, that Allen Valley score (59) was exactly equal to the average both for their shots scored and our shots conceded in games prior to this one. Pass me my anorak, would you?…
In competitive terms, then, it was a very good week, but it was still good to get a win in a friendly away to Alnwick on Friday. It just had to be another A, didn’t it? Alnwick turned out to be several degrees cooler than Hexham, on the fringes of a sea fret with quite a chilly breeze – this caught some of us out, but the magnificent tea afterwards put everything right.
As we all know, the scores aren’t terribly important in these games, unless you win, at which point they become a wonderful barometer of the club’s strength in depth. Speaking of which, next week there will be a need for more input from a range of players: several of our men will be away with the Gosforth Tourists, while there is also a County tour involving a couple of our ladies. It so happens that we have a bye on Thursday in the West Tyne, but for the other three leagues players are urgently (as in: urgently) required. After this week’s excellent results we should at least hope for some respectable scores to keep us in contention across the board.