Wearsider David Bolt missed out on a pre-Christmas boost when the final stages of the English Indoor Bowling Association’s Premier Threes competition were held at Erewash.
The Premier Threes format is spectator-friendly quickfire event as each game is a three-bowl, three-end best-of-three set format.
After battling his way through qualification in September at Lincoln, South Shields star Bolt carried the region’s hopes, but, in the quarter-finals, his run came to an end with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Malvern Hills’ Mark Atkins.
The final saw Atkins face his own son, Ryan, and it was the latter who took the Premier Threes title, triumphing 2-1.
The Durham County selectors have named their team to face Cumbria in the prestigious Liberty Trophy.
There are several changes to the team which was knocked out by Lincolnshire last season. The South Shields trio of Kevin Donkin, Neal Ridley and Billy Ferry, plus Hartlepool’s John Wells, have to settle for places on the bench, while there is a County debut for Shields’ Dan Targar, Shaun McIntosh and Stanley’s M. Barkass.
Hartlepool’s former England international, Paul Hartley, takes the skips berth vacated by Stanley’s John Thurlbeck.
Durham team: J Forcer (Hartlepool), M Barkass (Stanley), I Jackson (Hartlepool), GR Smith (South Shields); P Dixon (South Shields), M Peach (South Shields), G Farquhar (South Shields), P Smithson (South Shields); D Targar (South Shields), I Riches (South Shields), S McIntosh (South Shields), D Bolt (South Shields); B Arkley (Stanley), C Boston (Hartlepool), G Skipp (Hartlepool), P Mosley (Hartlepool); M.Ray (Hartlepool), C Higgins (Hartlepool), M Squirrel (Hartlepool), P Hartley (Hartlepool); N Cummings (Darlington), B Hopkins (Darlington), M Jones (Darlington), A Kirtland (Darlington)
Reserves: K Donkin (South Shields), N Ridley (South Shields), W Ferry (South Shields), M Higgins (Stanley), A Portaway (Hartlepool), J Wells (Hartlepool)
With the Carlisle venue still recovering from the recent floods, a decision on the venue and date has yet to be made.
Sunderland return to Inter-County League action on Sunday, January 3, when they entertain defending champions Darlington.
Sunderland team – at Houghton: P Bulmer, F Froud, J Jones, P Smithson, P Thomson, E Downs, M Davis, P Thomson, R Usher,I Fairweather, P Dixon, G Farquhar; At Darlington: G Brown, M Carr, R Robinson, W Ferry, P Collins, A Wood, TW Todd, S Angus, M Wright, A Grimes, P Brickle, M Higgins
There will be a crunch game in the Seniors Inter-Club League’s Group Three on Tuesday, January 5, as Sunderland A entertain Houghton A.
The reverse fixture saw Sunderland win 4-1, but, with only a single point separating the four teams vying for the second play-off spot in the group, the losers’ hopes would almost certainly be ended.
Sunderland A team: P Bulmer, B Walsh, M Davis, W Ferry, P Collins, W Hearne, F Knubley, J Jones, A Baker, R Robson, R Robinson, R Graham. Reserves: M Carr, R Rollason
Houghton A team: T Winship, J Godfrey, J Swinney, F Johnson, J Sutherland, P Noble, F Fletcher, D Wright, J Doyle, J Thuburn, I Whorlton, P Harding
In Group Two, Sunderland B face a crunch game on Wednesday, January 6, away at second-placed Hartlepool A. With the hosts six points ahead of the Sunderland outfit, anything but a win could terminally damage the Wearsiders’ play-off hopes.
Sunderland B team: A Grimes, D Gowland, F Froud, R Jobling, G Brown, A Wood, W Conway, W Roberts, P Thomson, E Downs, P Brickle, TW Todd, Reserve: J Maxfield
Houghton B will be looking to replicate their win over Ferryhill when the two teams meet in the return Group Four fixture at Houghton on Thursday, January 7.
Houghton B team: S Barnes, W Longley, W White, F Kell, P Hicks, A Gregory, R Johnson, T Baister, K Waterson, P Taylor, J Hibbert, R Thorpe.
The national competitions will take a break until the New Year, but there are still plenty of local players harbouring hopes of qualifying for the National Championships in April.
In the triples, Stanley’s Michael Laydon moved into the area semi-finals after a cracking 21-19 win over South Shields’ Ian Riches.
In the semi, Laydon will play either West Denton’s Clive Knott or Stanley’s Brett Arkley. Stanley’s G. Robson won through to the final, edging out South Shields’ S. Hubbard 17-15.
Ian Riches (Shields) booked a place in the regional play-offs with a 23-11 win over Stanley’s Mark Higgins in the fours area semi-finals. David Bolt awaits C. Yeomans (Parks) or Clive Knott (West Denton) in the other half of the draw.
In the Under-25 singles, talented Shields youngster James Sneller had a cracking 2-1 set win over new England international Josh Minto (The Parks) to book a place in the final stages at White Oak in February.
Dave Morgan (South Shields) secured a place in the area final of the Over-60s fours thanks to a 20-13 win over Stanley’s Brian Harris.
Morgan will now face The Park’s Michael London in the area final.
In the last 16 of the Under-25s double fours, South Shields were beaten 45-38 by Rugby.
Singles Area quarter-finals: B Arkley (Stanley) v N Ridley (South Shields), D Bolt (South Shields) v M Higgins (Stanley), D Targar (South Shields) v M Barkass (Stanley), I McIntosh (South Shields) v P Smithson (South Shields)
Pairs Area quarter-finals: P Duffy (West Denton) v P Thomson (Houghton), GR Smith (South Shields) v M Laydon (Stanley), P Dixon (South Shields) v C Knott (West Denton), D Bolt (South Shields) v D Targar (South Shields)
Over-60s Singles Area semi-finals: A Lawton (South Shields) v R Richardson (Gateshead), E Dent (South Shields) v D Craig (Stanley)
Over-60s Pairs Area semi-finals: I Brown (Parks) v B Harris (Stanley), B Poulter (Gateshead) v A Stewart (Park View)
Over-50s Triples Area final: D Craig (Stanley) v B Arkley (Stanley)
Mixed Pairs Area final: I McIntosh (South Shields) v H Blacklock (West Denton)
Mixed Fours Area final: P Mason (Parks) v I Riches (South Shields)
The past few weeks have been hectic at Houghton as the various club competitions have all begun.
In the singles, defending champion Peter Thomson held his nerve to defeat Brian Henderson (snr) 21-20 in a thrilling duel to set up a semi-final against Ray Robinson, who beat old school chum Freddie Fletcher.
The other semi-final will see Jeff Wilson face Billy Holmes after wins over Peter Brickle and Michael Wright respectively.
Billy Roberts and Frankie Froud remain on course to retain their pairs title after a quarter-final victory over Barney Walsh and Vic Hendry.