Norfolk’s bowlers win Middleton Cup

Norfolk's bowlers secured national glory for the fifth time at the weekend when they won the Middleton Cup at Worthing.

They beat holders Devon in the semi-finals and Wiltshire in the final of the sport's most prestigious competition to claim their first title since 2006.

Inspired by the 23-year-old Wayne Willgress's run to the national singles final on Friday, the 24-strong Norfolk side took to the green with confidence, and even withstood a crushing 33-10 defeat on the rink skipped by Mark Turner before beating Devon, 122-118, on Saturday morning. The winning charge was led, not surprisingly, by Willgress's quartet, who chalked up a fine 25-12 win over a rink skipped by James Webber, while Darren Rowsell's men accounted for Griff Sanders, 27-16.

Mervyn King added a narrow 21-19 win over his young England team-mate Sam Tolchard, while the rinks skipped by Phil Barr and Peter Boldero lost by one and two shots respectively.

Barr found himself up against former Norfolk star Jamie Chestney, who has moved to Torquay to be with his girlfriend, Commonwealth Games champion Natalie Melmore, and was 13-6 ahead at the halfway stage, before losing 21-20.

For long spells after lunch it seemed as if Wiltshire might deny Norfolk the spoils, but a strong finish saw Norfolk safely home – again by four shots – 118-114.

This time, Norfolk won on four of the six rinks, Rowsell, Willgress, King and Boldero returning cards of 21-14, 22-17, 20-17 and 20-19 respectively.

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Willgress, who was hoping to do as well in the two-wood singles as he did in the four-wood version, was forced to fit his first round match in that competition in between the Middleton Cup semi-finals and final – so it was no surprise that he lost, 15-12, to Middlesex ace Ray Fortune.

Norfolk's other two-wood singles representative Peter Wilkinson, from County Arts, got through his first round, beating Sussex star Andy Smalldridge, 16-11, but was unable to last the pace. He battled hard but had to give best, 13-11, to Bob Prati, from South Derbyshire Miners Welfare.