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OBA Finals take off at Carterton

Carterton club President Phil Monahan, welcomed OBA President Steve Tolhurst to his home green for this year’s Oxfordshire County National Championship finals.
As most bowlers in Oxfordshire know, it is not possible to play at the club without noticing the RAF undergoing their daily routines, and wondering as to how such gigantic machines not only get off the ground but manage to stay up in the air.
The big machines lifted off as the days proceedings were starting, followed at intervals throughout the day by aircraft in the sky that were appearing at the nearby Fairford Air Tattoo, and culminating with a fly past from the Red Arrows.
Whilst all this was taking place, the main event, and the reason why the many spectators had come from all corners of the County, was the contests taking place firmly on the ground to find the 2015 County Finals winners.

The morning session saw the finals of the Pairs, Fours and Under 25 singles. The Pairs brought two Headington pairings up against each other, Howard Watts (in the first of three finals) with lead Jon Philpott, with Ian Henwood leading for Mark Charlett. As expected from the four club mates, the game produced a tight encounter and after eleven ends the teams were level at 11 all. After sixteen ends only three shots in favour of Philpott and Watts separated the duo’s, but a conversion by the leading pair on the next end led to a three and a lead of six shots. This proved to be the killer blow and was followed up by a two and a brace of singles to give Philpott and Watts a 23-13 win. Watts, played one, won one.

The host club had three members featuring in two of the days finals, and they were on a high after beating Gerrards Cross the previous day, in their quest to reach the finals of the National Top Club competition. Two more games to go and we wish them all the best. The three, Andrew Martin, Stuart Richens and Paul Sharman were joined by Tim Jupp at lead for their Four’s encounter with the Banbury Borough rink of Keith Holloway, Richard Redford subbing for Jamie Wilkinson, George Schwab and skip Mark Sykes, who was also featuring in the singles after lunch. The home foursome went off on a flyer and were 8-2 up after the first five ends, before their opponents overcame their jet lag, having travelled all the way from the north of the county, and picked up ten shots over the next five ends to move into a 12-8 lead. Although they took four of the next six ends, the Carterton four were still one shot down at 15-16 but then they picked up a four on the seventeenth to move into a three shot lead which they increased to seven at the twentieth at which point the two sides shook hands with the scoreline of 23-16. Martin, Richens and Sharman, played one, won one.

Starting 30 minutes after the Pairs and Fours, Headington’s Dean May and Watlington’s Sam Watts (defending his title), contested the Under 25 Singles final. The Headington man must have felt confident after he kicked off with a three on the first end, but title holder kicked into gear picking up thirteen shots without reply over the next six ends. A pair of two’s and singles brought May to within four shots before losing three of the next five ends to enter the seventeenth end 12-18 down. Three ends later he had closed the deficit to two shots and started to have the upper hand with Watts hanging in and keeping the shot count against him down. Two Singles brought Watts to within one shot of the title and a lead of four at 20-16.
Longer jacks were proving to be in May’s favour and he held counts over the next three ends and even reached a position of holding game only for his opponent to pull out a wood to contain the challenger to three singles and still 19-20 behind.
The twenty-fourth end brought the game to a dramatic close. With Watts holding shot, May, with two woods within four inches of the jack to Watts’ shot wood within three inches, the Headington man rattled the head only to see Watts’ wood finish nearest the jack and give him a 21-19 win. After such a fight back from his bad start, and taking 13 of the 25 ends played, it was an unfortunate way to lose for May, in his last year of qualification for the competition.

In total contrast to last weekends semi-finals when lunchtime beckoned rain, after refreshing themselves from the clubs fine selection of lunchtime treats, bowlers and spectators returned outside to be greeted with glorious red hot sunshine.
The Singles and Two-wood Singles kicked off the afternoon session and it was noticeable right from the start that during the lunchtime break, the introduction of the hot sun had made the green considerable faster. This was very noticeable in the Two-wood event, where both contestants, home club bowler Stuart Richens and Headington’s Howard Watts were into their second final of the day. After losing two singles the Carterton man dropped on his weight and proceeded to take the next five ends for an 8-2 lead. Watts, who was struggling on the faster green, could only pick up three singles to his opponents seven shots over the next seven ends and at 5-15 down after fourteen ends he needed to pick 6 doubles from the last seven ends to stay in the game. Two singles to Richens on the next two ends gave him a 17-5 victory and his second title of the day.

Whilst Richens was in the process of taking his Two-wood title, Mark Sykes, who had won the same event ever since its inception three years ago, was representing the Banbury Borough Bowling Club in the Singles Championship against another double finalist, the newly crowned Under 25 Singles Champion Sam Watts. Sykes adapted to the quicker green the soonest going 6-0 up after four ends, moving on to a 10-2 lead after ten. Watts started to come into the game more, but was being held to single shots and after nineteen ends was 8-17 behind and knowing his opponent was close enough to take the title on any end. A 1,2 and 3 brought the Watlington man to within four shots before Sykes collected a brace of two’s to clinch the title 21-14.

Howard Watts, won one, lost one, entered his last final of the day alongside his winning pairs partner Jon Philpott with Nathan Lewis joining them at number two against the mornings Fours winners from Carterton, Andrew Martin and Paul Sharman who were joined by David Clanfield at lead. Clanfield and Sharman made up two-thirds of last years National Triples losing finalists. After five ends, only two shots separated the trio’s with the Headington triple leading 7-5 but then a two followed by a six in their favour shot them into a ten shot lead. A two to Sharman and his team on the eigth closed the gap to 8 shots but this was the last time they would challenge their opponents who kicked into another gear picking up 13 shots over the next six ends at which point the Carterton lads put their undercarriage down and brought things to a halt as Watts and Co. landed a 28-7 win.

The Carterton club had done their County President well. Their hospitality to both players and spectators was excellent. The Finals had been played in the right spirit and the spectators had been treated to some fine bowling. Thanks go to the umpire Jim Bland who was kept busy throughout the day.

The gate is now closed.

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