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League week 7

The halfway point is reached!

Division 1 reached this point with a week with some surprises. The leaders, and defending champions, Headington travelled to Banbury Central having only dropped half a point in competitive league matches so far. Central almost pulled off the shock of the season as the match went to the final end of the final game! Nick Rae-Walsh’s rink trailed by ten shots and Central were three behind in the match. Fortunately, for Headington, Nick’s front pair ended holding shots and Nigel Galletly was unable to convert for the required three.

Relegation troubled Watlington hosted fellow strugglers Witney Town. Watlington eased their worries, but probably condemned Town to division 2 in the process. Two comfortable wins and a third much closer one giving them five points.

The final match saw an unusual result with both clubs scoring an identical number of shots. Witney Mills might have thought that they were going to beat close neighbours Carterton once Les Days’ men had scored seven shots on the fifth end of the match. However, as the game headed to a finish with the teams very closely matched, and only the last three bowls to be played, Paul Sharman trailed by four shots on the end and Mills were winning the match. Not to be, Paul drew shot with his last bowl, giving Carterton the lead by two shots. Mills needed two shots to tie and three to win from the remaining two rinks, both rinks took a final end shot to level the game at sixty-two shots each.

With leaders City and County not playing, Adderbury had the chance to be top of Division 2 at the halfway stage. Unfortunately, Headington refused to see it Adderbury’s way and finished with a comfortable win. At halfway, Adderbury lead on three rinks and were six shots clear overall, at fourteen ends they were still six shots clear but losing two rinks then Colin Whitehead’s rink changed the game Headington’s way taking the fifteenth end with a seven shot score. Come the final end, again more drama from the same rink as they picked up the jack, from a losing position, and ran it into the ditch before scoring a second shot to tie their game and ensure match points for Headington.

The win does not put Headington into the promotion race but it does lift them out of the relegation places as Chipping Norton were beaten by Kidlington in a game won for the home team by Paul McGrath’s rink which trailed by one shot after nine ends but ran out with a seven shot advantage.

The third match in the division saw South Oxford pull back into the promotion race with a comfortable win at home to struggles Charlbury who have much to do in their next six matches if they are to remain in the division.

Another topsy-turvy week in Division 3 with last weeks big winners, Shiplake and Banbury Central both crashing to heavy defeats. Shiplake travelled to Hanborough and were well beaten on three rinks but looked to be heading for a win on the fourth until Martin Oliver’s rink scored a five on the fifteenth end to sweep into a lead that the visitors were unable to claw back. 

Central travelled to, in bowls terms, close neighbours Bicester with aspirations of moving into the top two. Bicester proved too strong winning comfortably on three rinks and only losing the fourth thanks to an exceptional comeback by Eric Trinder’s rink which came from nine behind at ten ends to win, winning seven of the remaining ends.

The third match in the division showed just how competitive it is, erstwhile second place Chadlington travelled to relegation candidates Thame and were well beaten! Indeed, Thame were forty-three shots ahead at halfway and only conceded twenty-five more over all four rinks in the second half of the match. 

The majority of the points on offer were split between the top three teams in Division 4 to leave the two promotion places as close as they were. 

Burford tried to lose the, seemingly very safe, match points to James Baldwin’s Blackbird Leys rink. Easy wins on three rinks, including one against a weak Leys triple, should have ensured match points but the fourth rink was lost by twenty-seven shots and this should have been sufficient for Leys to take match points but Steve Gould’s men took six shots from the last two ends, having only score a single shot in the whole game to that points. Those shots swung the overall score to Burford!

Wins for John Parker and Mick Bostock’s rinks ensured that West Oxford triumphed at home to South Oxford though they could easily have had three wins as West’s David Lyne’s rink only snatched victory on the last end of their game.

I can vouch that the stories of London Transport buses arriving in waves after hours of no buses at all were all based on the truth having spent my childhood in North London. I never thought that I would be using the expression in a bowls report! However, we have waited some time for a tied game in the league and this week provided not one but two! Not to be upstaged by Division one, Oxford University Press and Woodstock fought out a second tied match. Unfortunately, I have no rink cards or other details for this match!

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