Three former champs seek bowls singles glory

The quarter-finals of the County Championships took place last week with competitors striving for titles and qualification for next month's Bowls England National Championships.

In the fours, at Aldiss Park, both rinks from Acle St Edmunds progressed to the semi-finals. Andy Siely's four proved too strong for the Wymondham Dell quartet skipped by Alan Coombe winning 24-8. Tony Seabourne's four had a much tighter match against a determined Hingham Rectory four led by Barry Moody before winning 21-16.

In the match between Wootton Park and County Arts an early count of six shots by Ian Whiley's four put them into the lead. The match was nip and tuck from that point and in the end Wootton Park won 19-16.

The final match saw an experienced Norfolk BC four skipped by Jake Willgress beat Kelvin Rayner's Downham Market four 26-11.

In the triples, defending champions Max Harrison, Rocky Lewis and Peter Boldero stayed on course to retain their title after a tight finish against Daniel Noble's North Walsham trio. With the match level at 16 ends Boldero's triple scored on both of the last two ends to secure a semi-final against Wayne Willgress's Norfolk BC triple, who were 30-3 winners over Eric Rawsthorne's Diss team.

The quarter-final between Trevor Webb (North Walsham) and Mervyn Chapman (Wootton Park) was close early on but a change of length by the Wootton triple altered the course of the match and, from 7-7 at nine ends, Wootton dominated to win 23-8.

The other match featured sets of brothers with Matt and Mark Flatman together with Clive Knights of Norfolk BC taking on the Guy brothers, Greg, Kevin and Roger of Wymondham Dell. The Flatman triple was always in control, winning 23-13.

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In the pairs there were victories for combinations from Acle St Edmund, Swardeston, Norfolk BC and Freethorpe.

John Colcombe and Andy Siely (Acle) took early control against Malcolm Coe and Chris Gaul (Gissing) and went on to win 24-16. It was the same story for John Tufts and Wayne Willgress (Norfolk BC) against David and Colin Bix (Hunstanton EBA) who dominated from the start to win 24-9.

The other ties were much closer. Jamie Howlett and Rob Parker (Freethorpe) were two behind at 15 ends against Barry Flatt and Alan Coombe (Wymondham Dell) but won all six of the remaining ends to finish 21-12. Father and son Chris and Steve Wells (Swardeston) survived a late fight-back from Peter Setchell and John Button (Shouldham) to win 24-20.

The U25 Singles saw Josh Baxter (Caister) beat Liam Stevenson (Hunstanton EBA) 21-20. With the scores level at 16 all Baxter scored four shots to seemingly take control – only to conceded four on the next end.

With Stevenson lying a match winning shot on the next end a fine take-out by Baxter with the last bowl of the match secured a 21-20 victory.

It was the same score in the match between David Smith (Freethorpe) and Wayne Willgress (Norfolk BC). Smith took an early lead but Willgress fought back hard to at one point have a match lie. Smith saved this and went on to win on the next end.

The semi-final of the singles will feature three previous winners, Mervyn King, George Tubby and Wayne Willgress. But the pick of the quarter-finals was between John Colcombe (Acle), a former finalist, and Andy McNamara (Wootton Park), who recovered from a slow start to take a 19-16 lead only for Colcombe to win 21-19. Tubby beat John Tufts (Norfolk BC) 21-16. Mervyn King and Wayne Willgress, both recently recalled by England, proved too strong for Alan Byford (GW Staniforth) and Ken Jenkins (Hingham Rectory) respectively, both winning 21-9.

In the 2-wood singles quarter-finals Max Harrison (Downham Mkt) beat Alan Willer 16-11 and Peter Wilkinson (County Arts) beat Justin Hudson (Wootton Park) 16-9. The tie between Karel Mikulik (GW Staniforth) and Gino Gallent (Martham) was much closer with Mikulik securing victory on the last end by 16 shots to 14. The quarter-final between David Brawn (Nth Walsham) and Wayne Willgress will be played at Aldiss Park tonight.

Semi-final ties. Fours (Monday, July 9, County Arts): Andy Siely (Acle St Ed) v Jake Willgress (Norfolk BC), Tony Seabourne (Acle St Ed) v Ian Whiley (Wootton Pk).

Triples (Tuesday, July 10, Aldiss Park): Peter Boldero (Downham Mkt) v Wayne Willgress (Norfolk BC), Mervyn Chapman (Wootton Pk) v Matt Flatman (Norfolk BC).

Pairs (Thursday, July 12, County Arts): Wayne Willgress (Norfolk BC) v Rob Parker (Freethorpe), John Colcombe (Acle St Ed) v Steve Wells (Swardeston).

Singles (Friday, July 13, venue to be confirmed): George Tubby (Acle St Ed) v Mervyn King (Hunstanton EBA), John Colcombe (Acle St Ed) v Wayne Willgress (Norfolk BC)

Two Wood Singles (date and venue to be confirmed): Max Harrison (Downham Mkt) v David Brawn (Nth Walsham EBA) or Wayne Willgress (Norfolk BC), Karel Mikulik (GW Staniforth) v Peter Wilkinson (County Arts)

U25 Singles (date and venue to be confirmed): Josh Baxter (Caister) v Nathan Watson (Watton) or Max Harrison (Downham Mkt), Sam King (Hunstanton EBA) v David Smith (Freethorpe)

Two-wood Singles, date and venue to be confirmed): David Brawn (Nth Walsham EBA) or Wayne Willgress (Norfolk BC) v Max Harrison ( Downham Mkt), Karel Mikulik (GW Staniforth) v Peter Wilkinson (County Arts)