Middleton Cup


5th June 2024

First time since 2001

Saturday 1 June saw the first Middleton Cup match of the season, with Bowls Dorset meeting neighbours Bowls Devon on a hot day on Devon's home green at Topsham.  Over the years, formidable Devon teams have regularly beaten Dorset, with Dorset's last overall win 23 years ago - a thriller reported in the Dorset Echo newspaper here.  This time things were different.  The Dorset team, including a couple who'd played in that last win, held fast to score a 123-121 shots 16-6 points win.

Chris Kane's rink (Ben Mallandain, Will Scammell, Ian Sanger and Chris Kane) up against Devon skip Ryan Whitlock stormed to an early lead of 20-3 shots at 10 ends but the first quarter of the match followed a familiar path.  Devon pulled away to be an overall 20 shots ahead at 4 ends and maintained their lead to be 19 up at 7.  Then the course of the match changed as Dorset players began to find the measure of the green and their opponents - Paul Pomeroy's rink (Alex Dytham, Andy Philip, Ollie Thake and Paul Pomeroy) started to claw back an early deficit against Devon skip Jamie Heard as did Carl Stephen's four (Joshua Cowan, Michael Barron, Ged Costello and Carl Stephens) facing Devon's Griff Sanders who'd skipped in the 2001 match.  By their 10th end, Chris Thorne's rink (Harry Hovenden, Andrew Hamill, Kevin Surrey and Chris Thorne) had got themselves ahead of Aaron Southgate's four.  At 13 ends, Dorset's deficit had been reduced to just 1 shot and it was game on.  A nip-and-tuck contest on Brendan Sullivan's rink (Oliver Kenway, Tom Poore, Wayne Garnett and Brendan Sullivan) playing a rink skipped by James Webber and steady shot leads being built up by Gary Young's rink (Dean Ballard, Kevin Vincent, Tony Devonald-Batt and Gary Young) over James Hampton's rink and then by Chris Thorne's rink all contributed to Dorset entering the final stages of the match 1 shot up at 17 ends.

With high tension in the air, the last 4 ends were played out.  Dorset 4 up at 18, 1 up at 19, 1 up at 20 ends.  A nail biting conclusion saw Chris Thorne's rink the last to finish, with the match then standing at 122-121 in Dorset's favour.  Dorset and Devon thirds, Kevin Surrey and Adam Loveridge, traded shots.  With Devon holding, the Dorset skip then drew shot with his first bowl.  Devon's skip Aaron Southgate replied by drawing shot and levelling the overall score.  But a very cool Chris used his second bowl to draw the shot again, which Aaron just fail to beat with the last bowl of the match.  A fantastic 123-121 shot win for a great Dorset team!

Dorset now faces Gloucestershire away at Cheltenham BC in the next Middleton Cup match on Saturday 15 June.

AW 5/6/2024


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