BRIAN Hawkins went close to winning the Bristol City and County tournament on his return to the Open Singles Circuit last weekend.

He was beaten in the semi-finals of the Bristol Open 2-0 (6-2, 6-4) by Jack Breen (Cynon Valley, Mountain Ash).

The manager and owner of the successful Clarrie Dunbar club at Standerwick, Hawkins was a regular on the OSC scene until a couple of seasons ago, but has not played since or in World Bowls Tour qualifiers.

However, last weekend in Bristol, he made a superb return to the OSC by winning five games before falling at the penultimate hurdle to youngster Breen, the eventual winner of the tournament.

On his way to the semis, Hawkins won a tough preliminary round tie against Toddy Di GiovannI (Victoria, Street) 2-1 (5-9, 8-5, 2-1).

He then beat two Welshmen Merthyr Tydfil’s Mark Jones 1.5-0.5 (8-3, 5-5) and Chris Ackland (Sully, nr Penarth) 2-0 (7-2, 6-1).

In the last 16, Hawkins was pushed all the way before beating Paul Maynard (Foxhill, Aylesbury) 2-1 (6-6, 7-7 2-1) clinching the last two ends of the tie breaker with two running woods.

In the quarter-finals, he was taken to another tie breaker before eliminating Weymouth’s Jamie Watkiss (Moonfleet) 2-1 (9-4, 2-9, 2-1).

But after five victories, Hawkins’ fine run came to an end in the semis to Welshman Breen.

Hawkins, however, had the consolation of collecting £250 prize money for his efforts.

“I really enjoyed playing in an OSC tournament again,” said Hawkins.

“I had a good run but was beaten in the semi-final by a classy Welshman who was as cool as a cucumber.

“My best performance en route to the semis was undoubtedly my last 16 win over Paul Maynard, one of the top players in the OSC rankings, in a very tight game where the first two sets were both tied.

“I was a shot down in the tie breaker having lost the first end and produced two running bowls to ditch the jack and win the next two and the game.

“That is not my usual style as anyone who knows me will tell you I am normally a draw bowler that is why I usually play lead or two so to win the game with running woods was special to me.”

Next best of the local players was Clarrie’s Keith Bailey, who won four games but went out in the quarter-finals to Duncan Rogers (Loddon Vale, Basingstoke).

The best from North Wilts was Tom Newman, who went out at the last 16 stage to West Berks player Bob Harris.

FOUR-TIME winners of the overall Wessex League title in the past 10 years, Clarrie Dunbar men are still on course to add a fifth title this season.

The Standerwick-based club are through to the play-off semi-finals following an impressive 83-53 victory in the quarter-finals over Welford-on-Avon (Warks).

Clarrie will face Bournemouth in the semi-finals on March 31 at the neutral venue of Dolphin IBC (Poole, Dorset).

The other semi-final will feature Plymouth against Bromsgrove on the same day at Rugby Thornfield IBC.