Bowls: Smith cashes in with impressive Open Singles Circuit grand final success

Gary Smith celebrates his victory in the Open Singles Circuit grand final in Northampton

Gary Smith celebrates his victory in the Open Singles Circuit grand final in Northampton

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Former Sunderland star Gary Smith, now playing out of Durham, justified his ranking by winning the Open Singles Circuit’s grand final.

The top 48 seeded players over the season competed for the £1,500 first prize at Northampton.

After topping the rankings, Smith was one of the favourites to take the title – and he duly delivered, in style.

In the first round, Smith defeated the 32nd seed, Malvern Hills’ Shaun Jones 8-2, 6-3 and backed that up with a 5-3, 7-3 win over third seed Steve Tuohy (Egham).

In the last eight, Smith beat the 47th seed, Norfolk’s Wayne Willgress, 9-0, 5-5 to set up a semi-final against the 10th seed, Westlecot’s Neil Smith,.

A convincing 7-2, 6-1 win secured a final berth for Smith and it was fitting that the top two seeded players would compete for the first prize as Risbygate’s Mark Royal provided the opposition.

In the final, Smith lost the opening set 6-5, but he levelled the final off with a 9-1 second set romp.

That ensured a best-of-three tiebreaker, and Smith held his nerve to secure the title 5-6, 9-1, 2-1.

The local stages of this season’s national championships are finally getting a head of steam.

In the singles, David Bolt (Shields) defeated Gateshead’s Alan Jobling 21-7, while club-mate Gary Farquhar beat Durham’s Lee Maughan, setting up an all-Shields clash against Shaun McIntosh.

Durham’s Gary Smith eased past West Denton’s David Morrison, Michael Laydon (Durham) had a good win 21-17 win at Shields against James Sneller, while Mark Higgins (Durham) outgunned Shields’ Paul Sainthouse 21-10.

Houghton’s Pat Thomson went out 21-9 at Shields to Jaxon McKenna, who will now meet Higgins at Durham in the next round.

Neal Ridley’s 21-16 win over West Denton’s James Young earns him a home tie at Shields against Gateshead’s Brian Orrell.

In the pairs, Houghton’s Freddie Fletcher and Stevie Tindale came from 17-10 down with only two ends left to defeat Shields’ Gary Farquhar 19-17 in a cracking win.

The Houghton pair head to Gateshead next to face Alec Bryden.

Shaun and Ian McIntosh (Shields) put on an exhibition to ease past Houghton’s Richie Mckie 19-4 and will now meet club-mate Billy Ferry in the next round.

Durham’s Mark Higgins secured a comfortable 34-12 win at West Denton against Keith Sanders, while Jaxon McKenna (Shields) had an excellent 23-15 victory at Stanley, beating Eddie Henry.

In the Over-60s singles, Houghton’s Michael Wright saw off Gateshead’s Brian Brown 21-15 and will entertain Shields’ Alan Lawton in the next round.

The Denny Cup continues today. Locally, South Shields face a Gateshead side still on a high after their 30-shot win over Stanley, while Durham face The Parks.

After their first round exit, Houghton dropped into the Denny Plate and tackle Stanley today.

Houghton team – at Houghton: M Baker, P Harding, AJ Dunn, B Henderson; M Wright, T Patterson, R Jobling, F Froud; At Stanley: J Sutherland, S Tindale, J McAdoo, I Whorlton; P Thomson, D Armstrong, D Todner, P Thomson.

It will be a busy week for both Sunderland and Houghton seniors as both are in Over-60s Double Fours action on Tuesday.

Sunderland face Stanley, while Houghton meet Durham. Both games start at 10.30am.

Sunderland team – at Houghton: C Young, A Wood, W Hearne, W Roberts; At Stanley: R Usher, E Downes, M Carr, G Brown

Houghton team – at Houghton: J Sutherland, M Baker, F Froud, I Whorlton; At Durham: J Doyle, P Collins, F Fletcher, P Harding

The latest round of Seniors Inter-Club League fixtures take place on Monday, with Sunderland travelling to Stanley (10.30am start).

Sunderland team: R Usher, R Maxfield, R Jobling, F Froud; G Brown, A Wood, W Hearne, W Roberts; P Thomson, E Downes, M Carr, TW Todd.

On Wednesday, the Houghton B team will be looking for their first win of the season as they head to The Parks.

Houghton B team: S Barnes, A Glover, B White, F Kell; P Hicks, A Gregory, M Moore, B Johnson; K Waterson, GW Charlton, A Newton, R Thorpe

Houghton A are also away to The Parks, on Thursday.

Houghton A team: J Sutherland, T Joicey, D Sim, I Whorlton; J Doyle, J Thuburn, F Fletcher, P Harding; P Collins, T Winship, J Swinney, D Wright

Latest standings, Area 1: Darlington A played 3 its 9, Spennymoor 2-9, Great Aycliffe 2-5, Shildon 1-1, Durham A 2-1

Area 2: Darlington B 3-14, Hartlepool A 2-8, Ferryhill 3-5, Sunderland 3-4, Stanley 3-4

Area 3: South Shields 3-14, Gateshead A 3-8, Houghton A 2-5, Stanley B 3-5, Parks B 3-3

Area 4: Durham B 2-9, Hartlepool B 3-8, Parks A 3-7, Gateshead B 2-5, Houghton B 2-1

Sunderland return to Inter-County League action next weekend when they entertain The Parks at Houghton.

Several enforced changes have been made to the Sunderland line-up which narrowly beat Houghton in the opening round of fixtures.

Sunderland team – at Houghton: P Bulmer, W Hearne, R Jobling, R Mckie; W Roberts, K Armstrong, A Thurlbeck, P Dixon; At The Parks: P Thomson, E Downes, J Jones, P Thomson; G Brown, A Wood, TW Todd, S Angus

Silksworth’s David Bolt is currently in the far east, representing England in the Hong Kong International Bowls Classic.

Bolt is part of a mixed four-player squad who will compete in singles and pairs.

The action starts today and concludes next Sunday.

There will be a live youtube stream of the singles final tomorrow, and again for the pairs on November 13.

The first Bonanza Bowls event took place at South Shields last weekend.

The £350 first prize went to Josh Minto, who defeated Shields club-mate David Bolt in the final.

The Durham County Liberty Trophy squad for the game against Cumbria on November 26 has been confirmed.

After last year’s final loss to Kent, team manager Dave Kilner has made seven changes to the Durham line-up.

After a year’s absence, the county’s most capped player, Stanley’s John Thurlbeck, makes a welcome return to the county fold, while there were no nominations from Darlington which contributes to five of the changes.

There will be a squad get-together at Hartlepool on November 20.

Durham team: J Forcer (Hartlepool), M Barkess (Durham), P Smithson (Durham), GR Smith (Durham); M Peach (Shields), W Ferry (Shields), G Farquhar (Shields), V O’Neill (Hartlepool); P Dixon (Shields), C Boston (Hartlepool), G Skipp (Hartlepool), P Mosley (Hartlepool); B Arkley (Stanley), I Jackson (Hartlepool), I Peacock (Stanley), J Thurlbeck (Stanley); M Ray (Hartlepool), C Higgins (Hartlepool), M Squirrel (Hartlepool), P Hartley (Hartlepool); J Minto (Shields), S McIntosh (Shields), C Yeomans (Shields), D Bolt (Shields)

Reserves: A Barkess (Durham), J Wells (Hartlepool), N Ridley (Shields), A Bryden (Gateshead), J McKenna (Shields), J Sneller (Shields)