Suffolk’s dramatic win keeps Middleton Cup dream very much alive

Scott Sampson

Scott Sampson - Credit: Contributed

A dramatic final end secured Suffolk their second successive Middleton Cup win at the weekend and ensured their dreams of winning the illustrious national title for the first time remain very much alive.

Buoyant from an opening game 18-4 victory over Norfolk in the competition, Calvern Kemp’s team replicated that score on a wet Saturday in the Midlands to set up a mouth-watering fixture against second-placed Northamptonshire, at Felixstowe & Suffolk BC, on Saturday (2pm start).

With one end to go of the final rink, the 1995 finalists were two shots up on aggregate (110-108), but ahead of Leicestershire’s final bowl, the hosts had drawn level (110-110).

Lying two bowls on the jack, one more shot for Leicestershire would have seen them win 111-110 on aggregate and earn a 14-8 victory (teams collect 10 points for winning the aggregate and two points per rink win).

Had the aggregate been tied, Suffolk would have emerged 13-9 winners (aggregate shared), but a risky shot that went wrong from Steve Wade handed Scott Sampson’s rink the win, a fourth for the visitors, and a big success for Kemp’s team.

Suffolk lead the table by 10 points from Northamptonshire, and victory on Saturday will stand them in good stead to finish first and qualify for the quarter-finals on July 18, with just a trip to Essex left on July 4.

“The boys are playing as a team and pulling together,” said Kemp.

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“They are playing for each other, not as individuals, and that makes a big difference.

“It’s the first time I have risked so many youngsters, in the past we have gone for experience and we ended up in a bit of a rut.”

He added: “The green was full of puddles when we arrived and we fully expected to stay around and eat the buffet then re-arrange for another day!

“We were then told the green down the road was playable and, in the end, we played a really close match that went to the wire.”

Should Suffolk progress, they will face Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire or Huntingdonshire in the quarter-finals.

“We are looking for a win on Saturday, we don’t want to let Northamptonshire in, and we will appreciate all the support we can get on the day,” Kemp explained.

Suffolk skips: Scott Sampson (L 25-17); Richard Leeder (W 16-15); Mark Royal (W 17-15); John Catchpole (L 23-22); Martyn Rumsby (W 21-19); Jamie Gill (W 18-11).