Melton bowlers’ national finals bid ended by English champions

Hope (left) and Rodgers (centre) tasted national success outdoors last summer with the county squad EMN-190320-124742002
Hope (left) and Rodgers (centre) tasted national success outdoors last summer with the county squad EMN-190320-124742002
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The defending English champions came between Melton and District Indoor Bowls Club and a place in the national finals later this month.

Melton has hosted the EIBA Men’s and Women’s National Championships for much of the last three decades, but lost the rights to stage the event this year.

Instead Nottingham will stage English indoor bowling’s showpiece finals for the next three years after their bid was accepted.

Chris Rodgers and Neil Hope led the charge to get Melton represented at the finals on the rinks, but both fell at the final hurdle.

Chris Rodgers skipped his men’s four all the way through four qualifiers to reach the area final where they came up against the daunting challenge of 2018 national champions Spalding.

Having edged through a tight semi-final, 19-18, against Charnwood, the final proved a step too far as the Lincolnshire quartet, skipped by Graeme Smith, took their place in the last 16 of the EIBA National Indoor Bowls Finals with a 21-9 victory.

Rogers is a seven-time national semi-finalist, and reached the last four of the men’s pairs last March.

He was gunning to go one better and reach the final this time round, but will now have to turn his attentions to the outdoor season.

Rodgers’ Melton clubmate Neil Hope also came within a game of the national finals in the men’s singles, only to come up just short against Spalding opposition.

Hope had made serene progress to the final with six convincing wins, with a 21-14 quarter-final win the closest result en route.

But up against Matt Whyers in the area final, the Spalding bowler came through 20-7 to book a last 16 clash with multiple world champion and bowls legend Andy Thomson.