BOWLS: Francis comes up trumps for county in Middleton Cup thriller

Wiltshire Times: Russell Francis Russell Francis

WILTSHIRE men are through to the Middleton Cup quarter-finals but only after edging out Warwickshire in a nail-biting final group match last Saturday away in Rugby.

They snatched a one shot victory on the last end of the match as Russell Francis, with the overall scores tied, held his nerve to draw shot on a measure with the last wood of the match and give Wiltshire a 113-112 victory.

Rink honours were shared 3-3 to give each side six points.

But that last effort from Francis gave Wiltshire the crucial ten points on offer for the overall shots win to enable them to claim top spot in their west group and qualify for the quarter-finals against Devon, winners of the other section in the west group.

The match was tight throughout with Warwickshire 29-27 ahead after five ends across the board, but Wiltshire edging in front by two shots 53-51 at ten.

Warwickshire edged ahead again to lead 82-81 at 15 ends and 102-98 at 18 before Wiltshire rallied to grab a last gasp one shot victory with the very last wood.

Wiltshire had to win the away game by at least 14 points to eight, which they just did, to guarantee top spot in their west group above Worcestershire and a quarter-final spot again.

Wiltshire win the group on 48 points, Worcestershire are second on 41, Gloucestershire have 26 and last are Warwickshire on 17.

“A brilliant, brilliant performance,” said an elated Wiltshire team manager Dave Snell.

“It could not have been a tighter finish, all square going into the very last end, one bowl left to draw the shot.

“What a tight game throughout I don't think at any stage there was more than nine shots in the match.

“After 18 ends Wilts were four down with Graham Shadwell’s rink dropping a seven but were covered by the other rinks, after 20 ends Wilts go two up. Then that last fantastic end by Russell Francis to draw the winning shot for Wilts to win 113-112 and by 16 points to six points.”

Snell added: “It was another battling performance from the Moonrakers with Mel Biggs' rink down 23 - 6 after 14 ends and fighting back to the end only losing by four shots. Mike Jackson and Ben Gadd's rinks always looked like they would win and between them managed a 13 shot difference.

“Neil Smith's rink battled all the way and just went down by one shot while Graham Shadwell's rink after dropping the seven on the 18th end to go three behind won the last three ends to win by two.”

Snell added: “This is four years in a row that Wiltshire have reached the quarter-final stage of the competition which certainly shows consistency combined with a team spirit second to none.

“We now have our friends from Devon to play again, a repeat of last year’s quarter final but this time at West Backwell, North Somerset, next Saturday, July 19.”

RESULTS

Rink 1: Wayne Simmonds (Holt), Chris Cheesley, Dave Godwin (both Wootton Bassett) & Russell Francis (Spencer Moulton) lost to Dan Box 13-22. Rink 2: Tom Warner, Nick Revell (both Amesbury), Wayne Snook & Ben Gadd (both Holt) beat Alan Aspey 19-12. Rink 3: Gary Jackson (Westlecot), Craig Doughty (Holt), Steve Snell (WB) & Graham Shadwell (S Moulton) beat Colin Jacox 24-22. Rink 4: Kyle Anderson (WB), Justin Davis (Holt), Graham Hatherall & Mel Biggs (both West) lost to Andy Smith 19-23. Rink 5: Paul Kistle, Mike Richards, Ian Jefferies & Mike Jackson (all West) beat Steve Taylor 19-13. Rink 6: Kevin Embling (West), Keith Bailey (Holt), Gary Morphet & Neil Smith (both WB) lost to Calvin Wells 19-20.

Score: Wiltshire beat Warwickshire 113 (16pts) – 112 (6pts)

THE COUNTY men’s junior side recorded another win this season in the South-West Counties U25 league with victory over Cornwall at Taunton last weekend.

They won by 31 shots as they ran out 74-43 winners despite only taking the honours on one of the three rinks with Kyle Anderson’s quartet recording a massive 43-9 victory.

Wiltshire face Somerset, who they beat in a friendly at the start of the season in their next SWCL at Chippenham on Saturday (2pm).

RESULTS

Rink 1: John Hermon (Garrards), Jake Webster (Westlecot), James Richman (Highworth) & Tom Warner (Amesbury) lost 16-19. Rink 2: David Murray (Rodbourne Cheney), Jamie Shadwell (Spencer Moulton), Gary Jackson (Westlecot) & Kyle Anderson (Wootton Bassett) won 43-9. Rink 3: Ashley Plumb (Amesbury), Adam Bolwell (Holt), Matt Daniell (WB) & Michael Titcombe Jnr (Westlecot) drew 15-15.

Score: Wiltshire beat Cornwall 74-43.

TEAM

SWC v Somerset Saturday July 12 (at Chippenham Town 2pm), Rink 1: Craig Hatherall (West), Craig Morphet (High), T Warner (Ames) & Michael Richards (West). Rink 2: A Plumb (Ames), J Richman (High), M Titcombe (West) & K Anderson (WB). Rink 3: A Bolwell (Holt), J Shadwell (S M); G Jackson (West) & Nick Revell (Ames).

Development Rinks v Somerset, Rink 1: Sheldon Warren (West), Nathan Richards (West End), Ben Choules (High) & D Murray (Rod C). Rink 2: J Webster (West), Tom Newman (Trowbridge Westbourne), J Hermon (Garrards) & David Leighfield (Alderbury).

THE quarter-finals in the county men’s national singles championship played on Monday at Chippenham Town produced another hard-fought battle between Graham Shadwell (Spencer Moulton) and Mel Biggs (Westlecot).

Biggs led fellow former England international Shadwell 9-5 at five ends, 11-8 at 15 and 16-10 at 20. But Shadwell fought back to only be 19-16 down at 25 and 20-19 down on the 28th end. But Biggs sealed a 21-19 victory on the next with a single.

Holt duo Wayne Snook and Wayne Simmonds both won their quarter-finals while the other victor was surprise package Tom Pittuck (Town Gardens).

The semi-finals will be played at Swindon Westlecot on Sunday.

The men’s pairs championship saw the last 16 staged last Friday at Swindon and Chippenham Town. The quarter-finals (last eight) will be played this Friday evening at Holt (6.30pm) with the four winners progressing to the semi-finals at Westlecot on Sunday.

RESULTS

Singles quarter-finals (at Chippenham Town): Wayne Snook (Holt) beat Gary Jackson (Westlecot) 21-9; Graham Shadwell (Spencer Moulton) lost to Mel Biggs (W’lecot) 19-21; Tom Pittuck (Town Gardens) beat Steve Lynn (Wilton) 21-18; Neil Smith (Wootton Bassett) lost to Wayne Simmonds (Holt) 13-21.

Pairs last 16 (at Swindon): Wayne Snook & Wayne Simmonds (Holt) beat Mike Titcombe & Matt Webster (W’lecot) 21-13; Ken Rowden & Craig Doughty (Holt) beat John Ellis & Jim Ford (Amesbury) 25-17; Russell Francis & Graham Shadwell (Spencer Moulton) beat Brian Merritt & Bob Fredericks (Salisbury) 26-11; David and Stuart Murray (Rodbourne Cheney) lost to Chris & Colin Easton 13-21.

Pairs last 16 (at Chippenham Town): Mike Jackson & Mel Biggs (holders, W’lecot) beat Mike Tyler & Micky Crook (Amesbury) 25-10; Jeremy Haselton & Steve Heseltine (Chippenham T) beat Dave Stevens & Graham Archard (Holt) 21-14; John Williamson & Andy Crump (Wootton Bassett) beat Colin Beacham & Richard Gainey (Chip T) 23-18; Keith Fletcher & Neil Connor (Chip T) lost to Steve Rose & Dave Royle (Rodbourne Cheney) 13-24.

SEMI-FINALS PROGRAMME

Sunday, July 13 at Westlecot

10am - Singles: Wayne Snook (Holt ) v Mel Biggs (Westlecot) Tom Pittuck (Town Gardens) v Wayne Simmonds (Holt).

10am - Junior Singles (U25s): Mike Titcombe Jnr (W’lecot) v James Richman (Highworth) Mike Richards (W’lecot) v Kyle Anderson (Wootton Bassett).

Noon - Two Wood Quarter-finals: Rob Clews (Chippenham T) v Graham Hatherall (holder, W’lecot) Richard Young (High) v Chris Easton (Avon) Andy Colebrooke (Spencer Moulton) v Dave Godwin (W Bassett) Russell Francis (S Moulton) v David Murray (Rodbourne Cheney).

1pm - Two Wood Semi-finals: Clews or Hatherall v Young or Easton Colebrooke or Godwin v Francis or Murray.

2pm - Pairs semi-finals (dependent on Friday’s quarter-final results at Holt): Wayne Snook (Holt) or Craig Doughty (Holt) v Graham Shadwell (S Moulton) or Chris Easton (Avon) Mel Biggs (holders, W’lecot) or Steve Heseltine (Chippenham Town) v John Williamson (W Bassett) or Steve Rose (R Cheney).

All the men’s semi-final winners in singles, junior singles (U25s), two wood singles and pairs qualify for finals weekend at Devizes September 6/7 and to represent Wiltshire in the national championships at Royal Leamington Spa in August.

MORE BOWLS NEWS & PICTURES IN THIS WEEK'S GAZETTE & HERALD AND WILTSHIRE TIMES

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