Crunch time for Durham as Middleton Cup ambitions go on the line against Cumbria

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It’s make or break today for Durham County’s Middleton Cup squad as they entertain Cumbria in the final round of group games at John Whitehead Park in Billingham.

For Durham to progress into the quarter-finals, they first of all must beat Cumbria but then hope they collect 11 points more than group leaders Lancashire, who face bottom-of-the-group Derbyshire.

Team manager David Bolt has made a couple of enforced changes to the team which defeated Derbyshire.

Durham: S Baker (Silksworth), A Ward (Owton Lodge), G Farquhar (Silksworth), P Mosley (Stockton); V Gleeson (Spennymoor), N Ridley (Silksworth), M Jones (Darlington RA), J Fielding (Darlington RA); M Peach (Houghton DL), W Ferry (Silksworth), P Smithson (Silksworth), GSkipp (Elm Tree); P Dixon (Silksworth), S Cairns (Silksworth), I Riches (Silksworth), D Bolt (Silksworth); K Burton (Dalrington RA), B Hopkins (Darlington RA), N Cummings (Darlington RA), A Kirtland (Darlington RA); M Ray (Owton Lodge), D Fenwick (Elm Tree), I Jackson (Park), J.Mansfield (Park). Reserves: J Ballantyne (Stockton), V Rewcastle (Darlington RA), L Maughan (Silksworth)

Group standings: Lancashire 32pt, Cumbria 26, Durham 22, Derbyshire 8

Durham B’s torrid Alsop Trophy campaign continued as their run of defeats was extended to three as they were beaten 120-100 (16-6) at Wigton by Cumbria.

Across the green, Durham did have three winnings rinks. Former County President Dale Oram won 28-17 and Barnes Park’s Albie Hill was a 23-12 victor, while Dairy Lane’s Jimmy McAdoo bounced back from his Northumberland mauling with a hard fought 13-12 win.

However, the remaining three rinks went down by a combined 43 shots. The 16-6 points result was enough to confirm Cumbria as Alsop champions, while Durham’s remaining fixture at Manchester against Lancashire will now not be played as there is nothing at stake.

The county competitions resume this week as the quarter-finals are held at various venues.

The singles, at Stockton on Monday, kicks off a busy week.

Silksworth still have four lads in the running. Two-time county champion David Bolt faces Leadgate’s Gary Robson, Colin Jefferson tackles Joe Ballentyne of the host club, while Scot Baker faces fellow Silksworth member Neil Reid.

The remaining last 16 pairs ties were completed at Leadgate.

The all Dairy Lane affair saw John Thurlbeck defeat Ian Lambert 21-17, while Roker Marine’s Richie Mckie snatched a last-end three to sneak home 23-22 against 2013 county champion RA’s Neil Buckley.

In the quarter-finals on Friday, back at Leadgate, Thurlbeck and Mckie meet each other, while Silksworth’s David Bolt takes on Dipton’s Michael English.

The triples quarter-finals take place at Blackhall on Wednesday, when Dairy Lane’s David Armstrong is up against Hartlepool’s Ian Jackson, while Silksworth’s David Bolt tackles Elm Tree’s Colin Boston.

Silksworth stages the fours quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Seaham Town’s Bryan Henderson meets Dipton’s Michael English while the host club’s Billy Ferry entertains Hartlepool’s R. Tompkins. The remaining local hope sees Roker Marine’s Richie Mckie opposing Dunston’s Maurice Johnston.

Full quarter-final line-ups

Singles (Monday at Stockton): G Robson (Leadgate) v D Bolt (Silksworth), J Ballentyne (Stockton) v C Jefferson (Silksworth), P Mosley (Stockton) v M English (Dipton), S Baker ( Silksworth) v N Reid (Silksworth)

Pairs (Friday at Leadgate): C Higgins (Old Boys) v G Robson (Leadgate), P Mosley (Stockton) v L Macey (Darlington RA), D Bolt (Silksworth) v M English (Dipton), J Thurlbeck (Dairy Lane) v R Mckie (Roker Marine)

Triples (Wednesday at Blackhall): B Attwood (Leeholme) v D Stoker (South Moor), D Armstrong (Dairy Lane) v I Jackson (Hartlepool Park), D Bolt (Silksworth) v C Boston (Elm Tree), D Oram (Hartlepool Park) v M Ralphs (Darlington RA)

Fours (Tuesday at Silksworth): W Ferry (Silksworth) v R Tompkins (Hartlepool Park), M Johnson (Dunston) v R Mckie (Roker Marine), M English (Dipton) v B Henderson (Seaham Town), P Mosley (Stockton) v A Kirtland (Darlington RA)

Only two games took place in the Earl Cup this week as the weather won the day.

In the First Division, Silksworth took advantage of the leaders Houghton Dairy Lane having a bye to record a 6-1 home win over Houghton Town. That took the holders top by three points, with the top two clashing at Dairy Lane on Monday.

The only other game saw Third Division leaders Whitburn extend their advantage to 13½ points after a 7-0 win over Pemberton.

In the Swan Cup, Silksworth are the new leaders, albeit only on shots difference, after a 6-1 win over Houghton Town.

Holders Dairy Lane are off the top for the first time this season but still had a good 6-1 win over Thompson Park.

In the Barnes derby, Park came out on top 6-1 at West End, while Roker Marine defeated South Hylton 6-1. Seaham Town lifted themselves off the bottom with a 5-2 win at North Biddick.

In the Harold Howey Trophy First Division, Silksworth’s hopes of retaining their title are all but over after a 4-0 defeat at Hylton CW B.

Ryhope B finally nailed their first win of the season, 4-0 at home to Thompson Park A.

Washington B extended their lead at the top of Division Two to nine points with a 4-0 win over Seaham Town B, while second-placed Houghton Town A could only manage a 3-1 win over Barnes Park A.

Bottom club New Herrington notched their second win of the season, 3-1 against Roker Marine B.

Storey Bowl holders and leaders Hetton Workmen received a setback after they lost their unbeaten record with a 7-0 loss at Houghton Town.

Seaham Town closed the gap to 11½ points with a 6-1 home win over Hylton CW. Roker Park beat Dawdon 6-1 and Wearmouth had a cracking 5-2 win at neighbours Thompson Park.

England retained their Home International Series title in dramatic fashion at Llandrindod, Wales.

A hard-fought three-shot win over Scotland was back up with a 25-shot win over Ireland. Hosts Wales also recorded two wins, setting up a series decider.

After four hours’ play and 2,016 bowls, it all came down to an umpire’s measure as England got the match-winning shot by an eighth of an inch.

Silksworth’s David Bolt had a cracking series, steering his rink to three wins.

A 26-16 score against Scotland was followed by a 25-18 win over Ireland and a comprehensive 25-9 defeat of Wales9.

There was more good news for Bolt as he has been selected to represent England in the 2016 Hong Kong International Bowls Classic.

The prestigious tournament is one of the signature events on the international bowls calendar and one of the largest annual international lawn bowls events in the world.

In the Bowls England Senior pairs, there was mixed news for Dairy Lane.

Jimmy McKinney moved into the next round with a hard-fought 14-12 win over Dunston’s Alec Bryden and will entertain Hartlepool’s Harry Dougherty next, however Ken Briscoe went out, losing 17-16 to Darlington RA’s John Lynch.

Silksworth’s Gary Farquhar’s run in the Champion of Champions came to an end, going down 21-17 to Lyndhurst’s Peter Hudspith.

The local bowls scene lost another popular figure this week as Barnes Park’s Jimmy Laidler (79) sadly passed away.

Jimmy was a one club man and that club was Barnes Park. He was a much-respected bowler who always appreciated a good bowl and will be missed by many within the bowling fraternity.

County treasurer for 24 years, he was made an honorary life member of the county in 2002. In 2014, Bowls England awarded Jimmy the Certificate of Merit, which is presented to individuals deemed to have provided outstanding service to the sport of outdoor bowls at club and county level in England. To date only 15 such awards have been handed out.