Increased National Qualifying Entry Sees Larger Allocation for Herefordshire

Herefordshire have been allocated at least two places in each national discipline for the first time since 2015. Entries were up across the board with the qualifiers being held across three days at Leominster IBC during December as Woolhope’s John Mills confirmed his place in all five disciplines for the second time.

The qualifiers kicked off with the Mixed Fours on the morning of Saturday 9th December as three of Herefordshire’s four former national champions, Kate Williams (Weston), John Mills (Woolhope) and Joe Loveys (Gorsley Chapel) teamed up with Becci Cox (Woolhope) to take the first qualifying place with Dawn & Shirley Cox (Woolhope), Dean Rudman (Gorsley Chapel) & Bryan Watkins (Woolhope) also booking their place at Solihull in February. The afternoon session saw a competitive field of 14 players looking to qualify in the National Singles with John Mills coming out on top as first qualifier for the second year running. He was joined by David Millington Jones (Ross) who qualifies in the National Singles for the first time.

The National Fours qualifier kicked off Sunday 10th December with John Mills making it three from three as he qualified alongside Sophie Heather-Warner (Gosley Chapel), Becci Cox and Joe Loveys. Narrowly finishing second to them on shots difference was the team of Richard Bemand (Gorsley Chapel), Shirley Cox, Dean Rudman and Bryan Watkins who also book their place at the main competition. A thoroughly competitive Over 55 Pairs qualifier took place in the afternoon, with the number of entries giving Herefordshire three places at the main competition. Coming out on top were Dave Watkins & Ian Roe (Ross) who will be joined at Nationals by Shirley Cox & Bryan Watkins and Gary Peachey (Ross) & David Millington Jones.

The final day of qualifiers, Saturday 16th December, saw John Mills complete a clean sweep of the five competitions he was eligible for. The day started with the triples as Linda Lewis (Ross), Shirley Cox & Bryan Watkins went unbeaten to take the first qualifying place. The battle for second place was tight but it was Becci Cox, John Mills and Joe Loveys who were able to edge it on shots difference. The final qualifying discipline, the pairs, followed and alongside the singles was the only other discipline to be played in a “round robin to knockout” format as opposed to a league table. The two group winners were John Mills & Joe Loveys and Dave Watkins & Ian Roe who both saw their way through the semi-finals to face off in close match. Ulitmately, both pairs had already secured their place at nationals but it was Mills and Loveys who took the first qualifying place and made it five out of five for Mills.

The HSMBA congratulates all 13 qualifying teams and we look forward to reporting back on their progress in February (Mixed Fours and Over 55 Pairs at Solihull) and April (Singles, Pairs, Triples and Fours at Melton Mowbray) respectively. Many thanks to Becci Cox as always for organising and running the day.

For further information about the national qualifiers and to see a list of former qualifiers, please click here.