David Bolt’s hopes of National Championship glory were dashed by a semi-final defeat in the fours at Melton Mowbray.
Wearsider Bolt skipped South Shields club-mates Phil Dixon, Mal Peach and Gary Farquhar to a comfortable 23-6 last-16 win over Westlecott’s Neil Smith.
They followed up with another comfortable 19-8 quarter-final win over Spalding’s Mathew Orrey, which set up a semi-final meeting against Kingsthorpe’s Jamie Walker.
With Bolt leading 8-7 after 10 ends, the momentum turned and Kingsthorpe opened up a 15-10 lead with three ends to play.
Going into the last end, Bolt trailed 16-12 but held three shots with a bowl to come. However, Bolt’s hopes of an extra end were dashed as his final bowl just failed to make the count, leaving the Shields lads on the wrong end of a 16-15 scoreline.
It will be of little consolation to the Shields quartet that their conquerors went on to win the final 16-12 against the fancied Exonia rink, skipped by international cap Jamie Chestney.
In the ladies’ equivalent, the Durham quartet of Sandra Hind, Faye Slinn, Eileen Horan and Anne Bernard had a cracking 21-6 win over Lincoln’s Penny Strong before succumbing in the last eight, losing 14-11 to Desborough’s former England star Mary Price.
There was disappointment in the men’s triples as the Hartlepool trio of Carl Higgins, Marc Squirrell and Paul Hartley lost their opener 14-9 to eventual runners-up Bedford Borough’s Alex Walton. The title went to Riverain’s Tony Webb.
The ladies’ triples final went to the wire as Ipswich’s Katherine Rednall steered her rink to a last-end 16-15 win.
In the men’s pairs, Hartlepool’s Carl Higgins and Paul Hartley were beaten 21-13 by Blackpool’s Mark Dawes in the semi-finals.
Earlier, Hartley defeated Adur’s David Hubbard on an extra end and then beat Bound Green’s Lee Barber 19-11. The title went to Huntingdon’s Nicky Brett.
The ladies’ pairs title went to Swale’s Sandy Hazell, while the Vivienne Trophy went to Palmerston after a 61-55 win over Lincoln.
The two blue riband events, the men’s and ladies’ singles, conclude the week of action.
Hartlepool’s Glenn Skipp will look for a first national singles title as he faces Bedford Borough’s Robert Thompson, while club-mate Lauren Mosley, fresh from being named player of the ladies’ Home International Series, opens up against Lincoln’s Penny Strong.
The Under-25 Inter-County double fours title went to Devon, who narrowly beat Lincolnshire 34-31, while, at the other end of the age spectrum, Norfolk took the Over-60s Liberty Trophy with a 107-79 win over Kent.
The final round of Inter-County League matches take place tomorrow, with all three local sides in action.
Houghton still need a few points from their final game against second-placed Durham to avoid relegation, but, with Sunderland dropping out next season, there may be only one club relegated.
Houghton team – at Houghton: M Baker, D Wright, B. Henderson (jnr), B Henderson (snr); K. Waterson, J Scullion, P Harding, I Whorlton; At Durham: J Sutherland, T Patterson, D Todner, AJ Dunn; M Wright, F Fletcher, D Armstrong, J McAdoo
After 37 years of competing in the Inter-County League, Sunderland will bring down the curtain against South Shields.
In the 1980s, Sunderland dominated the league, winning the title on five occasions and runners-up once.
The nineties brought three more successes and three more runners-up spots, however, since the turn of the century, Sunderland have found times tougher, as a couple of Division Two titles demonstrate.
The clubs’ last top-flight title was in 1995, but they are still the only club to have won the top division four years on the trot.
Over those 37 years, some of the legends of indoor bowls in Sunderland have represented the club in the Inter-County League, the Lambert brothers, John Thurlbeck, Ted Hanger, Gerry Smyth, Jacky Barnes, Walter Newton, Danny Bell, Gary Smith and David Bolt to name a few.
Although it may be the end competing in the league, the club name will still feature in the EIBA yearbook as a fully paid member as this will keep open any funding avenues in the unlikely event of a venue springing up over the next 12 months.
Sunderland team – at Houghton: E Downes, P Thomson (snr), M Davis, P Thomson; R Usher, W Roberts, R Jobling, F Froud; At Shields: G Brown, M Carr, T Todd, S Angus; A Grimes, P Brickle, J Jones, P Dixon
South Shields team – at Houghton: P Hart, E Weightman, K Taylor, G Farquhar; E McCord, K Thompson, D Wilson, I Riches; At Shields: M Baker, J Drummond, P Sainthouse, J McKenna; I Scott, I McFarlane, R Cragg, A Harrison
It is hoped that, following Sunderland’s demise, Houghton may take up the slack by entering an extra team in the Inter-County League and the Seniors League next season.
To date, there are 42 names down for the Inter-County and 43 for the Seniors.
Houghton’s Veterans A team’s hopes of lifting a first play-off title were crushed in the quarter-finals when they were well beaten 5-0 at last year’s runners-up, The Parks.
The Parks went on to take the title for the first time since 2011 with a 4-1 final win at host club Darlington B.
Play-off results, quarter-finals: South Shields 1 Hartlepool A 4, Shildon 1 Durham B 4, Darlington B 5 Darlington A 0, The Parks A 5 Houghton A 0
Semi-finals (at Darlington): Hartlepool A 0 The Parks A 5, Durham B 1 Darlington B 4
Final (at Darlington): The Parks A 4 Darlington B 1
The remaining three County Champion of Champions finals were played at Hartlepool last weekend.
The Stanley duo of Brett Arkley and John Thurlbeck added to their 2014 success with a 19-8 win over Aycliffe’s 2009 champions, David Quickmire and Barry Attwood.
Stanley completed a double as they were joined by James McKenna and Ian Peacock to retain the fours title with a 21-12 win over Gateshead’s George Hackett.
The triples crown went to Shildon’s Billy Maddison, who defeated Aycliffe’s Barry Attwood 13-6.
The final round of the Seniors Premier League fixtures takes place on Thursday at Ferryhill.
Houghton’s John Doyle, Terry Todd and Peter Harding will look to end the season on a high as they take on Gateshead B. The title will head to Gateshead A, provided they avoid defeat against Stanley A.
The Durham County Women’s Indoor Bowling Association will hold its annual general meeting on Saturday, May 6 at Hartlepool (10.30am)
As the outdoor season approaches, the leagues have lost its first casualties as New Herrington have withdrawn from the Swan Cup Division Two and Barnes Park A have dropped out of the Harold Howey Trophy Division Two.
Finally, after months of waiting, the council have arranged a meeting with the outdoor clubs.
The club secretaries will attend a meeting at the Civic Centre in Meeting Room 2 on Thursday (4pm), when they will be issued with the new licences and the future of some venues should be finalised.