Oxford City and County BC hosted the British Isles Playoffs on Sunday. National Champions from 2019 went head-to-head with 2021 National Champions in a day full of thrilling action. The winners from each game would seal their place to represent England at the British Isles Championships hosted by Llandrindod Wells BC, Wales next month.
The first of the morning matches saw Devon’s Carole Blackwell (sub for Harriet Stevens), Lauren Hackett, Hayley James and Emma Cooper, 2019 winners, faced Essex’s Hayley Kenny, Michelle Squires, Serena Madgewick and Rebecca Smith, 2021 winners. Essex started strong, surging to a 13-4 lead at ten ends aided by a five on the ninth end. A six from Devon on the fifteenth end helped them close the gap to 17-13 in favour of Essex. The 2021 champions Essex kept Devon at arm’s length in the final stages to claim a 23-16 victory.
Tom McGuinness, David Ross, Kirk Smith and John McGuinness of Buckinghamshire who won the Men’s Fours in 2019 took on 2021 winners Stephen Cook, Ian Williams, James Park and David Forster of Cumbria. This was a repeat of the 2021 National Men’s Fours final. After picking up a six on the eleventh end, Cumbria took a 14-9 lead. However, McGuinness’ rink came back well and at the seventeenth end, the game was all square at 18-18. A five from the Buckinghamshire four on the following end proved crucial as they went on to win the clash 25-18.
Men’s Senior Fours
Berkshire’s Andy Piper (sub for Andy Warne), Michael Blizzard, Bob Harris and Trevor Broad, champions in 2019, played Durham’s Brett Arkley, Tony Humphries, Alan Theobald and Alex Bryden. After a five on the first end, Durham raced ahead to a 14-1 lead at six ends. Then came a flurry from Berkshire as they picked up a two and two three’s to close the gap to 14-9 at the halfway stage. Durham claimed six of the last nine ends on their way to a 22-14 victory over Berkshire.
Women’s Senior Fours
Bedfordshire four Dawn Grisley, Maz Fisher, Jenny Ralph and Jackie Bryant went head-to-head against Lincolnshire four Kirsty Cox, Anne Burchell, Caroline Cullum and Glenys Bolt. Bedfordshire took the first five ends of the contest to give them a 6-0 advantage. Lincolnshire later struck back with a four on the ninth end but Bedfordshire picked up a four of their own two ends after to lead 15-5 at eleven ends. In the closing stages, Bedfordshire held Lincolnshire at bay as they limited them to low scores and the Bedfordshire four won 18-11.
2019 champions Jason Haskins and Roger Kendrick of Kent faced 2021 champions John Tufts and Wayne Willgress of Norfolk. The Kent pair took an early lead at five ends as they led 5-3. Norfolk subsequently turned the tables due to a stunning ten shots in three ends to go 13-5 in front. Scoring was back and forth for the next seven ends as both Kent and Norfolk battled away on the green, resulting in Norfolk leading 19-13 at fifteen ends. A four from Tufts and Willgress on the sixteenth end proved pivotal in the final few ends as they secured a 25-15 win.
The first of the afternoon contests featured Berkshire’s Scott Winskill, Mark Hancock and Andy Knapper who played Essex’s Christopher Muir, Steve Gunnell and Ed Morris in a scintillating clash. A five from Essex on the seventh end levelled the game at 9-9. That was followed by a string of scoring from the Berkshire triple as they claimed the next five ends and led the game 15-9. Essex then grasped control, scoring a four and two two’s to put themselves 17-15 in front with three ends to go. Only one’s were scored in the last three ends in a thrilling conclusion. Essex came out on top in the end, winning 18-17, in what was arguably the highlight game of the day.
Jamie-Lea Winch, the 2019 champion from Leicestershire and Stef Branfield, the 2021 champion from Somerset faced each other. Branfield took a 5-0 lead only for Winch to score a two and three and levelled the game at 5-5. A one and a three from Branfield brought her to lead Winch 9-5. However, Winch propelled herself back into game with a wave of neat scoring to go 10-9 in front and lead the game for the first time. Branfield reclaimed the lead soon after as both scrambled towards the 21 shots mark and Branfield put herself 19-17 ahead. Ultimately, it was Winch that sealed the victory. She scored two two’s to win 21-19.
Men’s Junior Singles
Kent’s Jason Avery who won in 2019 went up against the 2021 champion, Lincolnshire’s Jordan Philpott. Both matched each other’s scoring in the very early stages as the contest was level at 3-3. Then Avery seized control of the game, taking a 14-7 advantage. Philpott, however, grappled his way back into the game with potent scoring to take the lead at 17-15. Both Avery and Philpott scored a three in the next two ends to take the game to 20-18 in favour of Philpott. Lincolnshire’s Philpott was the one who made it over the line in the end as he won 21-19 over Kent’s Avery in another brilliant singles match up.
Women’s Junior Pairs
2019 champions Hayley Kenny and Jasmine Wilson of Essex took on 2021 champions Rebecca Moorbey and Chloe Brett of Huntingdonshire. Essex bolted out of the starting blocks with two three’s as they led Huntingdonshire 6-2 after three ends. Kenny and Wilson captured firm control in the contest as they then scored in eight of the next nine ends to lead 20-3. Moorbey and Brett took the next four ends which included a five to claw the game back to 20-12. However, the margin was too much for Huntingdonshire pair to overturn and Kenny and Wilson won the game 21-12.
Lincolnshire pair Helen Holroyd (sub for Sheila Plaskitt) and Penny Strong who won the Women’s Pairs in 2019 faced Wiltshire pair Katy Smith and Lucy Smith who won in 2021. The sister’s from Wiltshire made the better of the early stages as they took an 8-2 lead after five ends. The contest was low scoring for the remainder but Holroyd and Strong battled back to being 11-8 behind. The Smith’s took six of the last eight ends and contained the Lincolnshire pair’s scoring on their way to a convincing 20-10 victory.
Due to the withdrawal of Harriet Stevens (Devon – Women’s Junior Singles), Sophie Tolchard, Emma Cooper and Harriet Stevens (Devon – Women’s Triples) and Sam Tolchard (Devon – Men’s Singles) the following bowlers progress to the British Isles Championships:
- Kat Bowman (Leicestershire – Women’s Junior Singles)
- Bridget Hodder, Julie Leake and Penny Cresswell (Dorset – Women’s Triples)
- Ed Morris (Essex – Men’s Singles)