Defeat for Earthroll is a big blow

BOWLS: Suffolk hopes of winning an all England title in this year's Yoplait EBA National Championships hang by a single thread as only Geoff Ramsbottom remains to compete today in his first round singles tie.

BOWLS

SUFFOLK hopes of winning an all England title in this year's Yoplait EBA National Championships hang by a single thread as only Geoff Ramsbottom remains to compete today in his first round singles tie.

The exit of Ipswich Bowling Club's Kelvyn Earthroll was an unexpected blow for the numerous supporters and county officials who attended with high hopes of Suffolk progress.

The Middleton Cup skip, making his fifth national championship appearance at Worthing, showed glimpses of the high quality bowling that has made him a worthy county champion.

But he could not overpower Middlesex's Tony Howard who certainly had the rub of the green in the early stages.

Neither player was able to consistently build tight heads as the breeze had some impact on play. However, erring on the heavy side of drawing, Howard made fruitful contacts and open jack trails to command the scoring.

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A breakthrough seemed to be on the way when a timely maximum four closed the gap to just two shots, Howard playing a jittery end and perhaps opening the door for a sustained Earthroll attack.

However, the progress was halted as the Middlesex runner-up replied with a three on the very next end to extend his advantage to 15-10.

Over the closing stages, Howard had slightly better of the exchanges, scoring six shots to Earthroll's three to take the match 21-13.

The defeat means that Earthroll will not face Norfolk's Commonwealth Games singles exponent, Mervyn King. The two would have met in this afternoon's second round.

King's form in the first half of his tie fired a warning message to his rivals and fellow competitors as he found the short length casts to his liking, charging into a 12-2 lead in just seven ends.

His Cumbrian opponent, Ricky Gallagher looked resigned to defeat at 6 –17 but found his best form in the latter stages, adding seven more shots before King reached the magic 21.

The talented and highly consistent Joe Stamper of Essex made a titanic comeback in his first round match, but to no avail. The Lionmead man found himself 17-10 in arrears to David Williams of Kent before drawing back to 20 all. But the final shot was not in his favour.

Buckinghamshire's Peter Picknell and Keith Hawes produced the achievement of their bowling careers as they took the EBA Pairs championship yesterday.

Facing Mark Stones and England international Grant Burgess of Worcestershire, the underdogs bowled to an extremely high standard.

The Buckinghamshire pair led by a few shots for most of the final and successfully defended a five-shot cushion on the last end to sail home victorious, 17-13.

The defeat deprived Burgess of a third national title, having won the singles and triples in an international career that started in 1990.