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June 21st, 2016:

Men’s selection

Oxon will face Surrey in the Balcomb trophy on Sunday 5th June 10am at Croydon BC: Balcomb Trophy v Berks

Oxfordshire will play Surrey in the Middleton cup on Saturday 25th June 2pm at Oxford City & County BC: Middleton v Surrey

The county games against Wiltshire and Isle of Wight: Selection 4

Men’s pairs change of venue

The venue for the Quarter Finals of the Men’s Pairs on Monday July 4th has been changed due the state of the green at the original venue.
They will now take place at KIDLINGTON BOWLS CLUB on Monday July 4th.

Ian Whelpton
OBA Comp. Secretary

National qualification for Oxon U25 double rink

Oxon U25 double rink 2016

Oxfordshire’s Under 25s team have made history by qualifying in successive years for the Bowls England ‘White Rose’ double rink national finals. Last year they made it through by virtue of a titanic win over Kent. This year was to be no different in a regional final which reached epic proportions and levels of play which will long take some beating.

Five Oxon players made their debuts at this level at Croydon BC in front of Deputy President Bill Jarvie yesterday, the same number from last year’s team being ineligible due to age this time around, and so, whilst hopes were high, there was no realistic expectation of getting through against Hampshire, Berkshire and Kent all of whom boasted England players and/or national title winners in their ranks.

There is however togetherness, team spirit and will to win in the Oxfordshire squad which perhaps isn’t as strong in other, bigger counties. This showed through in the morning’s game against Hampshire, when to be fair, there were a few nervous ends and short bowls but the team were as one in support for each other and moved into a reasonably comfortable lead by halfway. Jamie Wilkinson was great at two after a poor game by his standards in the earlier qualifier against Bucks. Despite a brief rally by Hampshire towards the end, Oxon finished winners by 10 shots (41-31) without playing the final end.

Rink Scores:
Chris Gilkes, Sam Watts, Bradley Squires, Dan Swanson 16, Hants 19
Shane Cooper, David Leighfield, Jamie Wilkinson, Orren Bennett 25, Hants 12

An ever strong Kent team beat Berkshire in the second semi-final setting up a repeat of the 2015 regional final.
Supported by reserves Harvey Alder and Ben Dickson an unchanged team took the green after the lunch break and immediately set about its task well, the players all showing that they were up for the battle and not intimidated by the more experienced opposition. Early heads lay in Oxon’s favour but when holding five and six respectively the rinks of Chris Gilkes and Shane Cooper were thwarted by deflected running bowls from the opposing skips Andy Roger and Perry Martin meaning eight shot turnarounds in both cases. Nonetheless each and every front end player continued to put bowls in or around the head, with only a few exceptions, giving their threes and skips a chance to do damage. This was never going to be a game where shots were easily surrendered by either team and so it proved as it continued.
At ten ends the scores were Gilkes 11, Roger 14 and Cooper 10, Martin 5.

There was then never more than four in it until the closing ends. Credit has to be given to Perry Martin, Kent’s talisman and England player whom, it has to be said, was more than matched by Shane Cooper throughout, for his saving and turnover shots when under pressure for most of the second half. The front ends were fairly even with Orren Bennett battling to his limit to match former World Champion of Champions, Tom Bishop at lead, but David Leighfield outplayed his opposition at three pretty much throughout. The final score was Cooper 17, Martin 18. This game finished three ends earlier than the other which is when the real drama unfolded.
Gilkes’ rink was 19-18 at that time meaning the score was all square overall but then a two and a single for Kent in successive ends meant a two shot deficit going into the final end. The Kent lead started with a close bowl just in front of the jack. Dan Swanson put two through in a collecting position with another from Kent a foot short and on the drawline. Bradley ‘Spud’ Squires then played up the first bowl to get second but with the shot now a ‘front toucher’ with half the jack showing. Sam Watts missed the trail with his first and then, with his second, unluckily stood the short bowl up into the line of the trail. Two bowls to save the game then. Gilkes, with his first, played the only shot available…a full out drive which cleared the front bowl. Roger attempted a blocker with his last but left a fraction of room for the runner at a one bowl target again. Gilkes, captaining the team, duly obliged with a facsimile cannon ball strike to kill the end and give his team another chance. As the end was replayed the head built with bowls from both teams in a two foot to one yard area around the jack. Squires then drew shot and Watts added another before the Kent three put one close for shot or second. Gilkes had the chance of a foot trail for two or three but missed by a fraction with his first. Roger then drew what looked like shot meaning game lie to Kent with one bowl to come. In front of a bank packed with Kent officials and supporters and the small handful of Oxon support Gilkes then played another massive bowl to move the jack for a definite two and measure for game. Umpire on. Measure. 2 to Oxon. Extra end!

Kent won the toss and elected to bowl second, giving Roger last bowl of the game. Swanson and Squire both put bowls two feet or so through while the Kent front players held three or four shots. Sam Watts nailed a good line for the draw with his first however, on a tricky hand, it hung out and finished wide. With his second he narrowly missed the trail so it was once again down to the captain to change the situation and again he did not disappoint, trailing the jack to his rinkmates’ bowls for shot. Roger had two bowls to draw the shot and dropped two feet short with his first but with his second nudged a Kent bowl up towards the jack, but not far enough. A second of silence. The Kent three concedes the head. Pandemonium across the green from Oxfordshire. Stunned silence from Kent!
The bowls throughout this game wasn’t always the best and not every shot went according to plan with luck playing apart for both counties however it was a game that was played by two teams striving to the limit for victory but who accorded each other due respect and sportsmanship throughout. This was a game that would have graced any green or championship in the world and one that will long remain in the memory of all that witnessed it. Credit to all that took part in this epic battle although special mention has to be made of the Oxford captain, and words are chosen carefully given that the author is also manager and father, who played incredible bowls under incredible pressure at the death to give his team and county another chance of national success. Without those final bowls Kent would be going to Leamington.

Our thanks to Bill and Roberta Jarvie, Neil Dickson and Mark Squires for travelling in support and to those that were unable to make it for the good wishes via media.

The team will play at Leamington in the national semi-final at 9.30am on Sunday 4th September 2016. Put it in your diaries!

Rink Scores:
Chris Gilkes 22, Andy Roger 20 (after extra end)
Shane Cooper 17, Perry Martin 18

Final Score: Oxon 39, Kent 38

Steve Gilkes
Oxon Under 25s Manager

League week 6

A standard British mid-June evening saw few matches complete 21 ends and some fail to make the requisite 15 ends before they were abandoned.

In Division1, the one match to fall foul of the weather was that involving league leaders Headington whose match against Banbury Central was abandoned after eleven ends.

This allowed chasers Carterton to close the gap as they won away at South Oxford. With Dick Claridge’s rink the only one able to score points for the home side, Gordon Walker’s rink lead the way for Carterton, who now lie second only on shot difference.

Shiplake, with a strong side, outplayed Witney Mills, winning comfortably on three rinks, despite poor starts by all of them, while Barry Evans, skipping their fourth rink, lead for much of the match only for Andrew Auger’s men to overtake them in the last four ends.

Division 2 appears to be following its, now normal, topsy-turvy season. Leaders, Watlington, suffered their first loss of the season, at the hands of Banbury Chestnuts. The latter’s young guns, brothers Lee and Jamie Wilkinson, more than matched Watlington’s youthful squad both skipping winning rinks and, in the process, scoring more than enough shots to see Chestnuts also come away with the match points.

With two rinks won by each team, a remarkable twenty-seven shot winning margin for Chris Skidmore’s rink was the basis of Adderbury’s defeat of Charlbury.

Witney Town, with good performances on all rinks, easily defeated bottom team, Bicester, who look more doomed to division 3 each week.

Despite their fixture with City and County falling foul to the weather, Kidlington extended their lead at the top of Division 3 as Hanborough were on a bye week and Headington lost away at Banbury Central, despite an excellent victory for captain Martin Kershaw’s rink. Central’s victory was due to their handling the poor weather better than their opponents, especially on Mal Leather’s rink which came back from 11-2 down after four ends(!) to win 25-16.

The final match in the division saw Thame stage what may prove to be the start of their comeback with a comfortable victory away at recent high flyers Chipping Norton. In a match curtailed to fifteen ends, Paul Heafey’s men proved the difference ensuring Tame’s win despite Keith Field’s effort for the home side.

The only match to survive the weather in Division 4 was that at Blackbird Leys. The home sides defeat of South Oxford was sufficient to send them to the top of the division. Both Gordon Roper and Roy Brain’s rinks curtailed the opposition to single figures in this fifteen end match.

Printable report
Rink scores
League table (to follow)