Silksworth’s David Bolt produced a series of magnificent performances to win the Hong Kong International Bowls Classic.
The Silksworth star was part of a 128-man field (42 overseas and 86 local players) and became only for the fourth Englishman to secure the prestigious title at the Craigengower Cricket Club.
Early wins over local players Terry Kung (9-0, 7-7) and Adrian Yau (7-5, 7-3) were followed by an 11-2, 7-3 victory against 2005 champion Paul Girdler (New Zealand).
A 7-6, 10-6 success against South Africa’s Prince Neluonde moved Bolt into the semi-finals, sniff he secured a final spot with a 7-5, 9-0 win over Scotland’s Kevin Anderson.
In the final, Bolt faced Wales’ David Wyn Kingdon.
The early signs were good as Bolt took the opening set 8-6, but he narrowly lost the second set 6-5 to send the final into a three-end tiebreaker.
Bolt dropped a single on the first end, but he collected a double on the second. In the decider, lying shot down, lady luck popped her head up as Bolt’s final bowl got a small rub off a wing bowl onto the jack to hold shot.
Kingdon need to remove the shot bowl for the title, but his final effort drifted under the head and the title was Bolt’s.
Bolt follows in the footsteps of Mark Walton (2004 and 2008), Robert Newman (2010) and Richard Catton (2013) as English winners in Hong Kong. He will receive an automatic invite to defend his title next year.
Houghton’s hopes of progressing in the Denny Plate were ended, despite a spirited performance, as Stanley, still smarting from their Denny Cup exit, won 74-61.
At Houghton Brian Henderson’s quartet of Mal Baker, Peter Harding and Alan J. Dunn produced a cracking 17-8 win over John Thurlbeck, while Michael Wright, Tom Patterson, Richie Jobling and Frankie Froud couldn’t repeat their previous Denny Cup win over David Bolt as they let slip a 8-3 lead to lose 16-11 to David Webb. That left the home squad 28-24 up.
In recent years, visiting teams have struggled to cope with the lightning quick Stanley surface, however the newly-laid blue carpet has lost that electric pace.
Peter Thomson (snr), David Armstrong, Dan Todner and Pete Thomson (jnr) got to grips with it to record a high-scoring 25-22 win over Gary Robson.
But the remaining rink of Joe Sutherland, Stevie Tindale, Jimmy McAdoo and Ian Whorlton had a hard day at the office as Brett Arkley’s quartet dominated from the start and romped to a 28-8 win, leaving Houghton’s away squad 17 shots down. That sealed a 13-shot overall defeat.
In the Denny Cup, South Shields scraped past Gateshead 70-67 and will face Gary Smith’s Durham, who eased past The Park’s by 36 shots.
The winners will probably face Cumbria, who play Copelands next. Hartlepool thumped Redcar by 55 shots, while there was a surprise win for Great Aycliffe, who knocked out Darlington 70-63.
In the Over-60s double fours, both local squads made first round exits.
Houghton can count themselves unlucky not to progress against Durham B as they lost 29-28.
Ian Whorlton won by three at Houghton, however, at Durham, Peter Harding went down by four. Sunderland were due to face Stanley, however the already-depleted Sunderland team was further weakened just 24 hours before the game, leaving them no option but to concede the tie.
The Senior Inter-Club League continued this week, with mixed results for the three local squads.
In Group Two, it proved a long morning for Sunderland as they were well beaten by 42 shots at Stanley to lose 5-0.
Frankie Froud’s rink of Bob Usher, Joe Maxfield and Richie Jobling were left to rue a dropped five as they only lost 14-11 to Derek Craig.
Peter Thomson, Eric Downes, Michael Carr and Terry Todd never recovered from a third end dropped seven against David Webb to finish 26-9 down.
Tony Grimes, Colin Young, Tony Wood and George Brown dropped an opening end five against Billy Bell and never got into the game, finishing 26-4 behind.
The loss leaves Sunderland at the foot of the group. With their next game not until January, it is a disappointing end to 2016 for them.
In Group Three, Houghton A returned to action in impressive style as they beat bottom club The Parks B 5-0 by 40 shots at Houghton.
The top rink on the day was John Doyle, Jack Thuburn, Freddie Fletcher and Peter Harding, who, thanks to a couple of late six counts, eased to a 28-8 win over J. Phillip.
Ian Whorlton bounced back from the Denny loss to steer Joe Sutherland, Trevor Joicey and David Sim to a 20-7 win over R. Stephenson, while Pat Collins, Tom Winship, Jimmy Swinney and David Wright ran out 21-14 winners against R. Harrison.
The win cements the A team’s second spot in the group, with a trip to third-placed Gateshead A up next.
In Group Four, Houghton B’s search for their first win of the season continues as they were well beaten, 5-0 at The Parks.
Standings, Area 1: Darlington A played 3 its 9, Spennymoor 3-9, Shildon 2-6, Great Aycliffe 2-5, Durham A 2-1
Area 2: Darlington B 3-14, Stanley 4-9, Hartlepool A 2-8, Ferryhill 3-5, Sunderland 4-4
Area 3: South Shields 4-19, Houghton A 3-10, Gateshead A 3-8, Stanley B 4-5, Parks B 4-3
Area 4: Durham B 3-13, Parks A 4-12, Hartlepool B 3-8, Gateshead B 3-6, Houghton B 3-1
The latest rounds of Inter-Club League fixtures take place tomorrow, with both Sunderland and Houghton in action.
A threadbare Sunderland squad will hope to build on their narrow win over Houghton as they face The Parks with the following team (2pm start).
Sunderland team - at Houghton: P Bulmer, M Milner, R Jobling, R Mckie,; W Roberts, K Armstrong, P Brickle, P Dixon; At The Parks: P Thomson (snr), E Downes, J Jones, P Thomson (jnr); G Brown, A Wood, T Todd, S Angus
Meanwhile, Houghton tackle South Shields with the following team (2pm start).
Houghton team - at Houghton: J Doyle, T Patterson, T Joicey, P Harding; M Baker, M Henderson, J Bickerstaff, B Henderson; At South Shields: J Sutherland, D Armstrong, F Fletcher, AJ Dunn; M Wright, K Waterson, I Whorlton, J McAdoo
League standings, Division One: Hartlepool 10, Durham 7, Sunderland 6½, Houghton 3½, Parks 3, Gateshead 0
Division Two: Spennymoor 9, Darlington 8, Gateshead B 6, Stanley 6, Ferryhill 4, Great Aycliffe 4, Dunelm 2, Shildon 1
In the local stage of the newly-introduced national two-bowl singles, South Shields’ Neal Ridley moved into the next round with a 21-15 win over Gateshead’s Brian Orrell. In the next round, Ridley will face club-mate James Sneller.
In the mixed pairs, an all-Shields affair saw Derek Robson defeat Gary Farquhar with the final bowl to set up another all-Shields clash against Paul Sainthouse.
Durham were beaten 12-4 by Hartlepool in the Top Club competition. Hartlepool will entertain Cumbria next.
There was some sad news for the local bowls scene as Ron Bell (84) sadly passed away. A member of Houghton Dairy Lane and past president of Sunderland & District, Ron was a popular figure and a much-respected player.
Two annual general geetings take place at Houghton Dairy Lane this week. Today, the Sunderland & District Bowling Association AGM is at 2pm, while Bowls Durham hold theirs on Tuesday at 7pm.