County's cup hopes hang by a thread

Bowls: SUFFOLK'S hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Middleton Cup hang by a thread following a comprehensive defeat by Essex.Suffolk went into the match with high hopes knowing a victory would almost certainly put them into the last eight.

SUFFOLK'S hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Middleton Cup hang by a thread following a comprehensive defeat by Essex.

Suffolk went into the match with high hopes knowing a victory would almost certainly put them into the last eight.

But Essex, knowing they had to win, showed the determination and had players who adapted to the quick playing surface of the Felixstowe and Suffolk BC.

Essex made a flying start, opening up a 17 shot advantage after just five ends.

It was a lead they continued to build on before eventually winning 137-100. Winning on four of the six rinks they secured 18 points to Suffolk's four.

Essex now top the group with 61 points having completed their games. Suffolk are in second place with 41 points and travel to Hunts next week needing to secure 21 points as Essex have superior shot difference.

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Richard Leeder, Steve Miller, Carl Finbow and Greg Nash kept up their 100 per cent record with a 18-14 victory over the Essex rink skipped by Malcolm Rothon.

The Essex quartet held the upper end throughout the first half of the game, leading 8-7 after ten ends. But the Suffolk rink had the better exchanges in the second half of the match, winning seven of the remaining 11 ends to secure their much-deserved victory.

It was another fine performance from this Suffolk rink which looks set to keep on improving.

Mark Todd, Duncan Snape, John Catchpole and Mark Royal did not have the best of afternoons against an Essex rink that included the experienced Chris Bryan at three and Tony Nimmo at skip.

Winning only three of the opening ten ends, Suffolk trailed 12-4. It was a situation that they never recovered from as the Essex rink kept up the pressure to eventually triumph 23-13.

John Rednall, Chris Love, Brian Andrews and Alan Barnes managed to win only six of the 21 ends against the Essex rink skipped by Steve Pickford.

Alan and his rink never really came to terms with the Essex rink and although they only dropping mainly singles throughout the match they could not manage to get hold of the jack, losing 21-9.

Clive Webb and his rink of Gary Miller, Calvern Kemp and Andy Meikle trailed 12-2 after just five ends against Chris Sheasby Jamie Holmes, Scott Reading and Nigel Smith.

After 15 ends the Suffolk rink had pulled it back to just four shots adrift at 12-16, but the Essex quartet pulled away with Nigel Smith in good form and good voice to win 33-18.

Suffolk's only winning rink came from Mark Addison, Brian Insley, David Wellington and Adrian Holden.

After trailing in the early part of the match the Suffolk rink took control over the John Tully-skipped rink to win 26-18 in another fine performance.

Kelvyn Earthroll and his rink of Neil Prentice, David Thompson and Andy Catchpole more than matched their opponents in the opening three-quarters of their match.

The hosts led 11-7 after ten ends and were all square at 13-13 after 15 ends. But from that point the Suffolk rink fell away with their opponents taking control to win all but one of the remaining six ends and record a 28-16 victory.

It was a disappointing result for the Suffolk selectors and players alike.

But following a meeting of the selectors, they have given the players a chance to redeem themselves in the final match against Hunts at the Brampton Institute on Saturday.

The selectors have named an unchanged team, with the exception of one enforced switch. Steve Mayes will come in to lead for Clive Webb with Gary Miller moving over to lead for Kelvyn Earthroll, who replaces the unavailable Neil Prentice. 

It is a tall order for the Suffolk team to achieve the 21 points required but not impossible if they can find the form that saw them defeat Norfolk and Herts.

Full Rink details - Suffolk names first

R Leeder, S Miller, C Finbow and Greg Nash 18, P Finney, K Lodge, M Christmas and M Rothon 14. 

M Todd, D.Snape, J Catchpole and M Royal 13, S Mitchinson, P Ayling, C Bryan and A Nimmo 23. 

J Rednall, C Love, B Andrews and A Barnes 9, F Abbott, J Chaney, G Arnold and S Pickford 21. 

G Miller, C Kemp, A Meikle and C Webb 18, S Sheasby, J Holmes, S Reading and N Smith 33. 

M Addison, B Insley, D Wellington and A Holden 26, A Blackmore, T Mould, I Middlemast and John Tully 18. 

N Prentice, D Thopmson, A Catchpole and K Earthroll 16, J Stewart, A Squire, J Rippey and J Stamper 28.

Scores at five ends: 17-34, ten ends:  47-61, 15 ends: 70-86, Final: 100-137

Of the 126 ends played,  Suffolk won  56.

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