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U25 Four Counties Top 11 Cup

Oxfordshire Under 25s rounded off the season with a win over Middlesex in the Four Counties Top 11 competition. Unfortunately this was in the third/fourth place play off but still represented a move in the right direction from the wooden spoon of 2012. The competition, based on the national Top Club, was played at South Oxford BC between Surrey, Berkshire, Middx and Oxon on Sunday 8th September. A strong Surrey team, winners in 2012, repeated their success this time round too.

Putting out an inexperienced but nonetheless very committed team, Oxon were drawn against Berkshire in the opening game. Ryan Full, moved from the triples to play 2 wood singles lost the opening game but Sam Watts restored the balance with an impressive performance in the 4 wood. The pair of George Schwab and Joe Glenn up against England star BJ Byles were close throughout but the game just went Berkshire’s way. The four skipped by captain Lee Wilkinson with Joe Woodward, just back from a break of two years, Connor Hathaway and Dan Swanson put in a great performance to win their match against David Hancock with Wilkinson playing some fantastic ‘captains’ bowls along the way. Shane Cooper, Orren Bennett and Brandon King put up a great show in the triples against Kyle Mallandain but again the point slipped away at the end meaning a repeat of last year’s final between Surrey, who scored heavily against Middx, and Berkshire with Oxon and Middx contesting the wooden spoon.

The final was over quickly with Surrey, containing England junior captain, Dan Morris and Oxon old boy, Sam Muir, retaining their title in convincing fashion, winning all disciplines against Berks as they did so.

Orren Bennett switched with Ryan Full and played his first ever 2wood singles in the afternoon for Oxon but could not quite see it out and lost by five. Sam Watts picked up where he left off in the morning and put in another great performance against Richard Southgate to win the four wood while, like the Bekshire game, the remaining games were all close. Unfortunately Schwab and Glenn narrowly lost out in the pairs again but the triple of King, Full and Cooper held on to win despite having been pegged back from an early lead. The fours was last to finish and went into the last end four up. Dan Swanson set his team up end after end and did so again with his last bowls however Middx skip Paul Wilsher killed it for a replay. This time there were no issues as Swanson and Hathaway drew four shots between them leaving Woodward and their captain to protect for a 3-2 win and third place.

All in all this was a great day of bowls with some of Oxon’s maybe lesser known players stepping up to the plate in the absence of senior bowlers missing through work, family or club commitments.

Special mention goes to Oxon reserve Ben Dickson who kindly agreed to play for Berkshire when one of their players withdrew. It meant that all games could be played and of course Ben leaving with a runners up medal’

Full report: Four Counties and Under 25s Day report

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