Sunday 26th March 2023 saw Herefordshire take on Wiltshire at Solihull IBC in the “Main” Premier 2 Semi-Final, the first time The Bulls had reached the Semi-Final stage of a competition since their Consolation victory against the same opponents in 2015.
Wiltshire had overcome Cambridgeshire in the previous round and it was clear that it was going to be a close match from the off, with Herefordshire picking up a win and a loss in each discipline to end the first session 4-4. The second session again saw some incredibly close games with the “Ross Triple” of Rob George, David Watkins and Ian Roe mounting a fantastic comeback to draw their game 13-13 having been 13-4 down. The second triple of Claire Herbert, Jill Howells and Jim Knowles and the four of Sophie Heather-Warner, Shirley Cox, Kate Williams and John Mills both suffered a final end defeat, each losing 10-9 on the final bowl. Meanwhile the second rink of Bradley Kite, Mark Cinderey, Bryan Watkins and Steve Kite took victory in a nip and tuck game to win 11-7, leaving the scores at 9-7 to Wiltshire at the halfway stage.
It was very much all to play for going into the afternoon, with the theme of tight games continuing. Joe Loveys and Tony Vitale suffered opposite fortunes to their first games with Vitale picking up 16-9 victory and Loveys falling to a 10-7 loss as Herefordshire took the bonus in the singles with +11 shots. Dean Rudman and Merion Attwood were the victims of a staunch comeback to lose 16-11, whilst David Millington-Jones and Becci Cox joined the list of teams to lose to the last bowl of the final end (13-11), as Wiltshire claimed the bonus point in the pairs to put themselves 17-11 up overall.
Going into the final session, Herefordshire required 10 of the 12 points on offer to take the win, ultimately leaving themselves too much to do. Both Steve Kite and John Mills’ rinks were able to win and secure the bonus point but Wiltshire’s triples fought hard to cancel out the result of the fours and give them a 23-17 victory overall. Agonisingly, the overall shots were 173-173, demonstrating just how little there was between the two teams.
Despite some disappointment on the day, it goes without saying that this season has been a resounding success for Herefordshire. Captain Becci Cox thanked her team, expressing her pride as a captain and reflecting on what has been achieved. She also praised the way the team has bonded and supported each other throughout, making it clear that she hoped to continue the momentum and go even further in the competition next season!