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ROYAL Wootton Bassett host the opening game in this year’s Middleton Cup, the men’s national inter-county championship event, on Saturday on their green at Tanners Close.

Hosts Bassett also supply six of the players named for the match with Devon - Gary Morphet, Mel Biggs, Steve Snell, Chris Cheesley, Dave Godwin and player-manager Neil Smith, who has taken over the team manager duties from fellow Bassett colleague Dave Snell.

Like the women, the Moonraker men are also drawn in a four-team west group this season alongside holders Devon who they meet this Saturday, then play Worcestershire (home June 17) and Gloucestershire (away, Sussex Square Cheltenham, July 8).

Only the group winner goes forward to the west regional final and plays the other west group winner for a place at the national championships at Royal Leamington Spa in early August.

Three clubs supply 20 of the Wiltshire men’s Middleton Cup players against Devon.

Tops are Westlecot with nine, hosts Bassett are next best with six while Holt have five named. Meanwhile the final four are drawn from Spencer Moulton (two) while there are single representations for Amesbury and Avon.

Team v Devon, Rink 1: Tom Warner (Amesbury), Jamie Titcombe (Westlecot), Gary Morphet & Mel Biggs (both Royal Wootton Bassett). Rink 2: Wayne Simmonds (Holt), Craig Hatherall (W’lecot), Wayne Snook & Ben Gadd (both Holt). Rink 3: Gary and Mike Jackson, Graham Hatherall (all W’lecot) & Graham Shadwell (Spencer Moulton). Rink 4: Craig Hadfield-Doughty (Holt), Colin Easton (Avon), Steve Snell (RWB) & Justin Davis (Holt). Rink 5: James Richman (W’lecot), Chris Cheesley, Dave Godwin (both RWB) & Russell Francis (Spencer M). Rink 6: Mike Richards, Michael Titcombe, Ian Jefferies (all W’lecot) & Neil Smith (player/manager RWB). Reserves: Craig Morphet (RWB), Tom Pittuck (Swindon Town Gardens), Fraser Boynton (Salisbury), Barry Sictorness and Kyle Anderson (both RWB).

WILTSHIRE national fours and triples championships were due to take centre stage on the men’s calendar this week with the quarter-finals in both planned for Tuesday and Friday at Westlecot and Holt respectively.

In the county and national fours played at Westlecot on Tuesday night all of the matches produced comfortable winners.

Chippenham Town led by Neil Connor won the Chippenham showdown beating Keith Hutchens ‘ Chippenham Park side 25-8.

The all Royal Wootton Bassett clash saw former England international Mel Biggs lead his team to a 26-12 victory over Gary Morphet’s four.

In the other two matches Carl Fernandes’ Swindon quartet defeated a four from Avon 22-14. And former winners Holt skipped by Ben Gadd booked a semi-final spot with a 22-10 victory over Adi Bolwell’s foursome from Spencer Moulton.

The winners of the semi-finals Gadd versus Fernandes and Biggs against Connor at Devizes on Sunday, June 18 will book a place in the county men’s fours final at Devizes on July 29-30 and also secure a place at Royal Leamington Spa in August in the national fours championship.

Meanwhile the quarter-finals in the men’s triples are scheduled to be held at Holt this Friday.

Heavyweights Mel Biggs (Royal Wootton Bassett) clash with former triples winners Holt skipped by Ben Gadd.

Another Holt trio led by Justin Davis face a Bassett side skipped by Chris Cheesley.

National winner last season in the family pairs Gary and son Craig Morphet are joined by Kevin Embling for their quarter-final triples tie against a threesome from Westlecot led by John Thomas.

In the final game another Westlecot team skipped by Mike Richards play a trio from Highworth led by Stuart Murray.

The quarter-final winners in both the fours and Friday’ s triples progress to the semi-finals in both national championship events at Devizes on Sunday, June 18.

RESULTS

Quarter-finals at Westlecot, Rink 1: Tom Walkley, Terry Walton, Neil Smith & Mel Biggs (Royal Wootton Bassett) beat James Nobbs, Chris Cheesley, Craig and Gary Morphet (RWB) 26-12. Rink 2: Mike Hudd, Nigel Elms, John Crowder & Danny Holland (Avon) lost to Mickey Pearce, Steve Barker, Geoff Porte & Carl Fernandes (Swindon) 14-22. Rink 3: Wayne Simmonds, Justin Davis, Wayne Snook & Ben Gadd (Holt) beat Duncan Baxter, Graham Jones, Jamie Shadwell & Adi Bolwell (Spencer Moulton) 22-10. Rink 4: Richard McComb, Keith Hutchens, Malcolm Drew & Martyn Whitaker (Chippenham Park) lost to Rob Clews, Jim Fitzpatrick, Richard Gainey & Neil Connor (Chip Town) 8-25.

TRIPLES DRAW

Quarter-finals at Holt, Friday June 2: Dave Matthews, Mike Shawyer & John Thomas (Westlecot) v Kevin Embling, Craig & Gary Morphet (RWB). Barry Sictorness, Neil Smith & Mel Biggs (RWB) v Wayne Simmonds, Wayne Snook & Ben Gadd (Holt). James Nobbs, John Williamson & Chris Cheesley (RWB) v Robbie Jeffreys, Pete Hardie & Justin Davis (Holt). David Murray, AN Other & Stuart Murray (Highworth) v James Richman, Jamie Titcombe & Mike Richards (West).