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Orren Bennett and David Leighfield win OBA under 25 pairs competition

This years under 25 pairs was played with great success in the sunshine at South Oxford Bowls Club. This year sees the first time the boys able to progress to Leamington due to a Bowls England introduction of a male junior pairs competition.

The pairing of Orren Bennett and David Leighfield had to play three games of 18 ends to qualify, as only the winners overall progress to the national finals at Leamington Spa in August this year.
The pairing’s first game was against Woodstock duo Ollie John and Ben Dickson, the game was fairly evenly matched for the first half but a six on the 11th end made it very difficult for the Woodstock boys to comeback and they ended up losing 24-9 to Bennett and Leighfield.
The other three first round games were all taken to extra ends, after fantastic bowling by all players involved. A special mention is noted to Joe Justin and Darren Wakeman, from Carterton Bowls Club, who were 17-1 down after 8 ends, who went into the last end 20-17 up! A 3 from the pairing of Bradley Squires and Harvey Alder on the final end forced an extra end which ended up with the Carterton lads progressing to the semi-final winning 21-20.

Watlington’s Rob Parkes and Banbury Borough’s Jamie Wilkinson were in a tight tussle on rink 1 early on, against Thame’s Johnathon Dadson and Oxford City & County’s Joe Glenn, again a 3 shot pick up by Parkes and Wilkinson on the last end forcing an extra end. Dadson and Glenn won the extra end progressing to the semi-finals 15-14 victors.
The final first round game saw an all Watlington affair with the pairings of Sam Watts and Shane Cooper against Brandon King and Dan Swanson. Once more a 3 pick up on the final end forcing an extra end from King and Swanson. With one bowl left for Cooper and neither side quite sure who had shot, he played a very successful running bowl to remove both of his opponents bowls leaving his partners bowl for shot. Watts and Cooper progressed to the semi-final 21-20.

After a fantastic buffet lunch provided to the competitors and spectators from South Oxford Bowls Club, the semi-finals commenced with Dadson and Glenn against Bennett and Leighfield and Justin and Wakeman against Watts and Cooper. Watts and Cooper both played very strong games which got them a 26-5 victory and a place in the final. The other semi-final saw Bennett and Leighfield fight back from 15-4 down at 8 ends to win 25-20.

The final commenced in the glorious sunshine and both pairs keen to book their place at Leamington. There was a lot of emotion and big bowls played which saw the lead changing from pair to pair, but a 4 shot pick up on the 16th end for Bennett and Leighfield gave them a 16-12 lead with 2 ends to play. The penultimate end saw the Watlington pairing picking up a 2 which meant a very tense final end for the competitors, which saw Bennett and Leighfield pick up a single shot and win 17-14.
A very special thank you to Angie and Beryl from South Oxford for the excellent hospitality that was provided throughout the day and thank you to South Oxford Bowls Club for letting us use their facilities to host the event.

Watching the junior pairs played with so much talent and ability from all of the lads that were involved, shows just how bright the future is for bowls in Oxfordshire, for both the junior and senior game.

The Junior Pairs national finals will be held at Leamington Spa on Wednesday 9th and Thursday 10th August.

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