Suffolk triples make third round

BOWLS: Sun, sea and success was the order of the day as Suffolk's representatives roared in to the third round of the Yoplait EBA Triples championship yesterday.


Sun, sea and success was the order of the day as Suffolk's representatives roared in to the third round of the Yoplait EBA Triples championship yesterday.

First, John Roper skipped his Felixstowe and Suffolk colleagues, Steve Mayes and Colin Long to an emphatic 25-13 first round victory over Morris Watkins, Les Williams and Denis Gardner of Herefordshire.

The early stages of the match saw even scoring, but with all three Suffolk men bowling well and adapting to the free-running green, Mayes and Long started to build good quality heads, creating scoring opportunities.

Roper responded to his team-mates' efforts, making a number of important conversions, the most crucial being a running bowl to ditch the jack and make two shots when facing a three-down situation.

This particular shot opened the flood gates for a rich scoring run which saw the Felixstowe trio score fifteen shots to one over the next six ends.

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The pride of the scoring pattern was a six on the tenth end that realistically put an end to Herefordshire's hopes.

Suffolk champions Ian Ward, Calvern Kemp and international Mark Royal took their time to stamp their dominance on the game against Cambridgeshire opponents, but mastering the green over the middle part of the game, took control.

At 8-11 down the Rookery trio soared into action, taking consecutive scores of 1,1,2,1,1 and 2 to make the result safe.

The first round encounters featured a good number of well -fancied combinations, many in direct combat, as the luck of the draw would have it.

Brett Morley's hopes of adding the triples crown to the fours he won on Wednesday were dashed as international, Stuart Airey from Cumbria won the match of the day and put out the holders.

In the second round, Felixstowe and Suffolk faced Gloucestershire's Anthony Cotton, international lead Andy Wills and Rob Griffiths. Importantly, the Suffolk men quickly adapted to the main green and matched their opponents bowl for bowl over the early stages.

The Suffolk breakthrough came on the tenth end when Colin Long, playing so well at second fired the jack into the ditch and continued to draw brilliantly to the edge.

The next end, the same player trailed the jack gently and Felixstowe found themselves with a five shot cushion.

From this point the Gloucestershire displayed true grit and determination, pegging the scores back to 15 –15.

With scores level on the last end, and Suffolk holding game with one opposing bowl left, the Gloucestershire skip had the fortune to play a shot that must have been the self-confessed fluke-shot of the day, connecting a cluster of bowls to push a bowl to within a foot of the jack.

Going out of the championships in this manner would undoubtedly been the cruelest blow possible to a valiant Suffolk performance. Yet the response from John Roper was perfect: an accurate drive that saw the jack rebound out of the rink.

On the replayed end, Colin Long was the star as he trailed the jack away from the Cheltenham lead's toucher, and to his own bowl.

On this occasion, the opposing skip, Griffiths was unable to change the match-winning lie and Felixstowe were victorious.

Meanwhile Mark Royal's second round hurdle was provided by Buckinghamshire's Edward Pilgrim, Les Richardson and Trevor Room.

The Suffolk champions sailed easily into the next round with a comfortable 20-5 victory, having gained a ten shot lead without reply over the first five ends. The Rookery men were at their best and seldom looked troubled.

Today, Royal faces Berkshire B skipped by Arthur Berchell who provided a highly-charged shock of the round as they conquered recent Commonwealth gold medallist, Simon Skelton by a single shot on an extra end.

Mayes, Long and Roper continue their campaign as they challenge Oxfordshire's current international, Greg Moon.