EIBA National Finals at Melton: History made at championship finale

Melton Indoor Bowls Club member Les Gillett during his first round defeat at the national finals EMN-160419-120320002
Melton Indoor Bowls Club member Les Gillett during his first round defeat at the national finals EMN-160419-120320002

The 10-day bowls marathon at Melton IBC drew to a close in fitting fashion on Sunday as history was made at the national finals.

For the first time both men’s and women’s national singles titles were won by players from the same club as Spalding took the honours.

National singles winners Martin Spencer and Annie Dunham EMN-160419-131223002

National singles winners Martin Spencer and Annie Dunham EMN-160419-131223002

Martin Spencer (27) played superbly to defeat the favourite Sam Tolchard in the men’s final before clubmate Annie Dunham (28) fought back bravely to beat Amy Stanton.

Tolchard (Torquay United) led 4-2 before Spencer strung together a devastating sequence to move 16-5 in front after 12 ends.

Tolchard scored doubles on the 13th and 14th ends to hint at a comeback, but Spencer allowed the 26-year-old Devonian, who won the pairs with Louis Ridout, only one more single in a 21-10 win.

“I have always watched people winning this title, and wondered if I might do so one day,” said Spencer who beat defending champion Greg Harlow by the same scoreline in the semi-finals.

“But I really didn’t think it would happen, and I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet!”

Two years ago, he should have been in the Spalding trio that won the national triples title, but, after helping Matt Whyers and Graham Smith to qualify, a tumour was discovered on his spine, prompting an emergency operation.

Ashley Caress took his place in the nationals, and Spalding powered to victory.

* Amy Stanton started brilliantly in the women’s final, carding a full house of four shots on the very first end, and was 12-7 ahead by the 12th end. The 26-year-old, from Welford-on-Avon, looked the likely winner when she led 17-11 after 19 ends, but Dunham roared back.

A treble on the 20th, double on the 22nd, and a decisive full house on the 24th put her ahead for the first time, and she held out on a nail-biting final end.

“It’s really special to have won both titles for Spalding,” Dunham said. “It’s such a close-knit and friendly club, with a lively junior section where Martin and came through at the same time.”

* Kent won the national men’s inter-county team title, and lifted the Liberty Trophy for the fourth time by beating 11-time champions Durham in an absorbing final on Sunday.

In the customary closing match, Ian Honnor’s rink led the way for Kent, winning 23-12, while Sean McCaughan’s men were not far behind with a 22-16 win, and Duncan Hanmore’s quartet played out a 17-17 tie with Paul Mosley’s rink.

Durham edged three rinks, but their winning margins were not quite enough to unseat their rivals who won 111-109.

* In Saturday’s women’s inter-county final, Norfolk won their third Atherley Trophy with a 113-104 win over Devon, who were runners-up for the second year running.

Rink honours were shared, three apiece, Norfolk winning on the three rinks on the western side of the green, skipped by Carole Baker (18-15), Melanie Haylett (23-9), and Jayne Roylance (22-19), and Devon came out on top on the eastern rinks, skipped by Carole Binmore (19-15), Jill Bishop (20-17), and Val Lander (22-18).

* Favourites Whiteknights and Swale had the edge in two thrilling triples finals last Thursday with Riverain the bridesmaids in both.

The Whiteknights win, 17-16, gave skip Rob Newman his seventh men’s national title, alongside Michael Knight and Simon Jones.

For the Swale ladies, it was their second title of the week following their fours win two days before.

Paige Dennis, Sandy Hazell and Wendy King added the triples crown with a 19-13 win.