Bowls: Norfolk open Middleton Cup campaign with victory over Essex

Norfolk opened their Middleton Cup campaign with an emphatic victory over Essex at Norfolk Bowling Club on Saturday by 147 shots to 108. They won on five of the six rinks and took 20 of the 22 points at stake.

The visitors made the better start, taking a four-shot lead at five ends, but Norfolk soon got to grips with the green and conditions to take the lead at the halfway stage with Mervyn King's rink in great form.

The lead was then steadily increased to 28 shots by 15 ends and Norfolk's players continued to press home this advantage to run out comfortable and fully-deserved winners.

The rinks skipped by Darren Rowsell, Wayne Willgress, Peter Boldero and Mark Turner all recorded comfortable victories while Philip Barr's rink gained a last-end victory.

The only downside was a last-end defeat by Mervyn King's rink.

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Manager Brian Taylor said: 'This was just the start we were looking for and taking 20 points against a good Essex team was excellent.

'Our next match is a difficult one away to Huntingdonshire and we will need to take the form we showed today into this match. We made seven changes to the team that reached the semi-final last year and I'm particularly pleased with the way the new players fitted into the team.'

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An unchanged team has been selected for the next match, on Saturday, June 16 against Huntingdonshire at the Parkway BC (Peterborough) starting at 2pm.

Rink scores: John Ottaway, George Tubby, Andy Siely, Darren Rowsell 27 Mark Morthall 18; Robert Hadingham, Daniel Noble, Jake Willgress, Philip Barr 23 James Rippey 21; John Tufts, Rob Parker, Steve Winter, Wayne Willgress 23 Mark Christmas 12; Gary Mallett, Mick Brown, Paul Shackcloth, Mervyn King 20 Nigel Smith 23; Max Harrison, Roger Guy, Chris Gaul, Peter Boldero 25 Steve Pickford 16; Sam King, Liam Stevenson, Peter Wilkinson, Mark Turner 29 Steve Mitchinson 18

• On Sunday Norfolk travel to Flitwick BC to play Bedfordshire in the first round of the Balcombe Trophy (National Inter-County Two Fours).

Norfolk team: Sam King (Hunstanton EBA), Mick Brown (County Arts), Mark Turner (County Arts), Wayne Willgress (Norfolk BC); Max Harrison (Downham Market), George Tubby (Acle St Edmunds), Mervyn King (Hunstanton EBA), Philip Barr (County Arts).

• Norfolk's Federation bowlers started their inter county season on Saturday with games against Huntingdonshire and came away with two good wins.

At Hingham BC the Adams team won on 4 of the six rinks and won by 165 shots to 142, picking up 18 points.

Rink scores: P Cox, T Elvin, P Webb 29-22. J Groves, J Cook, A Manson 33-24; T Baker, R Greef, C Woodcock 29-26; R Bunton, N Blyth, G Todhunter 29-17; A Sayer, D Sherman, B Sadler 22-24; S Reynolds, G Hewitt, P Randell 23-29.

The Newton game was played at R G Carter BC and the result was very similar to the Adams game with Norfolk winning on four rinks and by 162 shots to 148. They also picked up 18 points.

Rink scores: G Gallant, J Hudson, P Glover 29-26; K Howlett, D Mower, E Clapham 30-25; J Fruin, B Grint, R Meeks 33-21; D Smith, B Swan, C Bailey 28-31; S Bunton, R Bailey, K Breame 21-20; J Newstead, A Tallent, J Moore 21-25.

On Saturday the teams travel to Northants for the Adams game at Whittlesey Manor BC and the Newton game at Broadway Yaxley (2pm starts).

The Adams team will be unchanged. In the Newton N Patrick replaces C Bailey.

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