Our Aviva England Junior squad suffered a deflating end to their Junior International Series campaign at Llandrindod Wells BC, Wales.
The event held over Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th September saw England compete against Ireland, Scotland and Wales in a combined six-rink international series. Alongside the combined competition, there was also a separate competition for both the women and men.
England’s Junior Women went undefeated through the series after a win and two draws. However, they finished second in the standings on shot difference behind winners Scotland.
With one win and two defeats, our Junior Men placed third in the men’s standings. The squad overall also placed third in the standings on shot difference, despite two victories against Scotland and Ireland.
In their first match against Scotland, the squad won 111-102 overall after a vigorous effort from the players. Our Junior Women scored 63 shots to Scotland’s 49 while the Junior Men were narrowly defeated 53-48.
After the clash against Scotland, England were due to play Ireland on Saturday afternoon. However, heavy rain caused play to be suspended at Llandrindod Wells and, after a review from officials, play resumed on Sunday with remaining matches shortened to thirteen ends.
Against Ireland, the Junior Women drew 34-all and the match was level overall with an end to go in Junior Men’s match. Men’s Captain Tom Holmes’ rink scored two shots to secure another win for the squad and give the Men’s side their first points in the series.
Heading into the final match against hosts Wales, a squad win would see England claim the overall title while triumph for the Junior Women would’ve seen them lift the women’s title. However, the squad were beaten by Wales 70-53 as the Junior Men lost 42-25 and the Junior Women were held to an agonising 28-28 draw.
Women’s Junior Manager Nicola Bowe said, “To remain undefeated across a British Isles championships, but lose due to shot difference, illustrates the huge importance of each and every shot in International bowls.
“The ladies were exceptional all weekend, fighting to the very end for the one shot that would have got us across the line. The team had five new caps and one recall and I’m proud of each and everyone of them for their grit, passion, determination and team spirit. We will return next year as a stronger team from the learning experience this weekend.”
Men’s Junior Manager Stuart Thomas added, “This international event marked the introduction of seven new caps to our team, further enriching Bowls England’s pool of talent. These young and talented athletes demonstrated their potential and added real depth to our squad.
“While the final result did not favour us, the manner in which our team conducted themselves throughout every match was truly commendable. Our team showcased their remarkable sporting capability in various aspects of each game. From impressive individual performances to coordinated team efforts, it was evident that our players possessed the skill and talent necessary to compete at this level. Despite the outcome, moments of brilliance illustrated our team’s potential to excel in future competitions.
“One of the standout qualities of our team during the event was their unwavering determination. They exhibited a never-give-up attitude, even when faced with adversity. The players fought tirelessly until the last bowl, showcasing their resilience and commitment to the sport.”
Thanks go to Llandrindod Wells BC for hosting the 2023 event and their hospitality.