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League cup semi finals

Played on two consecutive Thursdays for the first time, the League Cup semi-finals couldn’t have been closer, with an exciting climax to both games.

First up was Shiplake v Watlington, with both teams making their first ever appearance in the semi’s on the green at South Oxford.

With Watlington securing promotion to Division 1 in the League and Shiplake going the other way to Division 2, the south Oxfordshire teams knew they would have another season apart, and both were keen to make their debut in the League Cup final.

Watlington were quickest out of the blocks, and at the half way point were leading by 12 shots and winning on all 4 rinks. However Shiplake bounced back and at 14 ends had edged ahead, with 3 of the rinks now in front – Matt Shepherd’s four leading the charge.

Despite securing a good victory on Les Wescott’s rink, it was not to be Watlington’s night. The other 3 skips, all from the Gilkes family, couldn’t recover their earlier lead and Shiplake ended the game victorious by 6 shots and with a place in the final.

There was also drama in the second semi-final, as holders Headington A did battle once again with old rivals City & County A. With 2 men short on the night, City & County knew they’d need a good start, as part of their score would be adjusted at the end. Within just a few ends, Paul Comley, Alan Ley, and Colin Pollard were piling on the shots, whilst Chris Earl’s four were keeping things close against Headington’s Nick Rae-Welsh. At 8 ends City and County were up by 11 shots, and as darkness started to fall still looked to be knocking the Champions out. Then, with captain Mark Charlett leading the fightback, Headington gave themselves an outside chance – as 3 of their rinks crept home with narrow wins, whilst trailing City & County heavily on the fourth.

With just one end remaining, and Headington needing 3 shots for victory, everyone gathered around the one rink left playing. Bowling a shorter jack, Headington adjusted better to the poor light and romped home with 5 shots on the end to clinch an unlikely victory, despite an accomplished win for Colin Pollard’s four.

The final will now be played between Headington A and Shiplake, under the floodlights at Kidlington, on Thursday 8th September.

Shiplake 69, Watlington 63
J Bland 19, S Gilkes 15; M Shepherd 20, C Gilkes 13; B Evans 19, B Gilkes 13; G Kennedy 11, L Wescott 22.

Headingon A 69, City & County A 66½
H Watts 16, P Comley 15; M Charlett 21, A Ley 16; R Gaskins 17, C Pollard 25; N Rae-Welsh 15, C Earl 10½.

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