The Ross pairing of Dave Watkins and Ian Roe carried their impressive form playing together in the County Team into last weekend’s County Pairs Championship to claim their first title, defeating three times winners John Mills and Joe Loveys (Woolhope/Gorsley) 9-5 in a tense final.
21 teams entered the competition on Sunday 21st January, which had to be moved from Ross Bowling Club to Leominster Indoor Bowling Centre in order to accommodate the number of entries; yet another competition that has seen such an increase on the previous year. Allowing a total of 10 mats to be laid out across the hall, with each group of the round robin stage being played across at least two mats, an impressive sight met bowlers as they entered the hall for the day ahead (image below).
Three groups of five and a group of six saw the morning group stage produce some incredibly close results amongst high quality bowling by all. The 21 teams were cut down to 8 going into the knockout stages as the winner and runner up from each group made it through to the quarter finals.
The first quarter final saw John Mills & Joe Loveys facing the Ross pairing of Andre Edwards & Tony Vitale. A close match saw the pairs exchanging singles before two twos on the eighth and ninth ends proved enough to carry Mills & Loveys to a 8-6 victory. Quarter final two proved to be an incredibly close affair as Gorsley’s Lynn Williams & Sophie Heather-Warner faced off against Dave Rush & Gary Peachey of Ross. A fast start from the Ross pair saw them head into a 6-2 lead after four ends but a slow and steady fightback from the Gorsley team put them back on level standings (7-7) heading into the final end where the Gorsley pair kicked on to take a three and win 10-7. The third quarter final proved to be an even closer affair as Adrian James & Merion Attwood (Lea) and Chris Complin & Jim Knowles (St Martin’s) finished 8-8 following a fightback from 8-4 down by St Martin’s, leading to an extra end that saw them complete the comeback to win 9-8. Finally it was the second Lea team of Charlotte & Steve Kite taking on Dave Watkins & Ian Roe where a strong start for the Ross pairing stopped their opponents from getting into the match, eventually running out 17-3 winners and setting up two intriguing semi final matchups.
Semi final one saw a victory for those who enjoy a narrative as Mills & Loveys were drawn against Loveys’ Gorsley teammates Williams & Heather Warner. Keen to avoid a grudge match, Loveys and Heather-Warner were (just) able to amicably put their relationship off the mat to one side to produce a very close game that saw Mills & Loveys hold their nerve to book their place in the final with a 10-9 win. In the second semi final Complin & Knowles, looking to win St Martin’s first County Championship, faced Watkins & Roe. Sadly this was not meant to be as Ross continued their string of strong results, pushing on from a score of 4-4 at the halfway stage to win 11-4 and setup what promised to be an intriguing final.
Taking place in front of a strong attendance for an HSMBA final, those watching were treated to a replay of the national qualifying final which was won by the Woolhope/ Gorsley Chapel pairing. Carrying on from that match, Mills & Loveys won each of the first three ends by one before a three for Watkins & Roe put them back in contention. The two teams continued to trade singles until the ninth end where, with the scores at 5-5, Watkins & Roe grabbed a crucial two that, with two fantastic bowls from Watkins in the final end, was enough to seal victory for the Ross pairing and complete a very good weekend for Roe having been voted the County Team’s Players’ Player of the Season.
Huge thanks go to Becci Cox for running the event and all of the entrants for making it such a successful day. One of the largest HSMBA competitions held in recent times, if you have any feedback on the day please do get in touch with Becci directly.