EIBA National Finals at Melton: First week review

The EIBA National Indoor finals opens on Friday - from left - EIBA vice-president Jenny McConnell, Melton IBC chairman Bob Welborn, EIBA president Arthur Broadberry and Mayor of Melton, John Wyatt EMN-150504-133410002
The EIBA National Indoor finals opens on Friday - from left - EIBA vice-president Jenny McConnell, Melton IBC chairman Bob Welborn, EIBA president Arthur Broadberry and Mayor of Melton, John Wyatt EMN-150504-133410002
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It is six days since Mayor of Melton John Wyatt bowled the ceremonial first wood to open the championships, but there are still four days and six titles up for grabs.

The triples comes to a head today when the men’s and women’s semi-finals and finals take place.

Saturday is ladies’ day, starting with the women’ singles final at 9.30am before Devon and Yorkshire lock horns for the Atherley Trophy at 1pm.

The men’s singles final kicks off at 9.30pm on Sunday before the traditional finale for the Liberty Trophy takes place between Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire from 1.30pm.

The first champions were crowned last Sunday afternoon when both men’s and women’s pairs finals ran alongside the under 25s inter-county final.

There was a second national pairs title for Robert Newman as he and Mike Knight steered Desborough to a narrow victory, 17-15, in an exciting final after a terrific fightback from Len Williams and Tony Webb, from the Riverain club in Hitchin.

Robert won his previous pairs crown for the Whiteknights club in 2000 with Mark Bantock, and has also won the singles twice (1997 and 2010), and the triples and fours once each (2002 and 1995).

* Life-long friends Sue Kearsley and Janice Gower (Blackpool Newton Hall) made a remarkable recovery to snatch the women’s pairs title, turning a 11-4 deficit after 10 ends into a 15-13 victory.

“I have previously lost in every national final that I have played in,” Gower said, “But Sue actually told me that if we ever got to the final in the pairs, she would make sure we didn’t have to settle for the runners-up spot!”

Facing Rebecca Simpson and Annie Dunham, from Spalding, in the final, the Lancashire team hit the front for the first time on the penultimate end, and clinched victory with a single on the 21st.

* Norfolk equalled a record set by Devon when they defeated Dorset, 44-28, in the final of the men’s under 25s inter-county team championship.

James Segolo steered Aill Pitt, Daniel Mills and Daniel Seabourne to an impressive 32-7 win over a Dorset rink skipped by Nick Revell, which more than covered a 21-12 defeat for Dean Rudling, Daniel Cawthorne, Tom Segolo and Jake Willgress at the hands of Martin Puckett’s Dorset quartet.

* High drama in the men’s fours final on Tuesday saw St Neots lose the lead for the first time on the 20th end, only to regain it with a winning double on the very last end to beat Bournemouth, 22-21.

Robbie Coleman, Wayne Bailey, Lewis Baker and Alex Walton were 12-4 up at nine ends and 19-14 in front with only three ends left to play, but brilliant play from Russell Morgan helped Bournemouth pick up two shots on the 19th, and a fantastic count of four on the 20th which put them in the driving seat.

The St Neots quartet kept their heads, and, perhaps, justice was done on a tense last end.

“It’s my first national title,” said junior international Walton. “But, in a way, it was just another game of bowls. I love the game, and just want to go on playing it!”

* Sian Honnor first made her mark 10 years ago when she reached the final of the national women’s singles championship as a precociously talented teenager.

On Tuesday, the 27-year-old journalist skipped her Adur clubmates Sandra Godfrey, Linda Gray and Lorraine Kuhler to the women’s fours title.

The Adur quartet dominated the final, racing into a big lead, then closing the game down effectively to beat Bromsgrove’s Gill Rees, Gill Cliff, Angela Farrar and Chris Grigg, 28-6, with three ends still left to play.

It was Honnor’s third time to be on the winning side in this event. In 2009, while at university in Exeter, she skipped a Torquay United team to the title and three years ago she was part of the Desborough club’s triumphant quartet.

Now she is moving on again, and will next year represent the Sittingbourne-based Swale club, in Kent.