HOPES of another national title for Sunderland club champion and England international Gary Smith in the Warner’s Champion of Champions final stages were dashed.
Having made it through to the last 16, Smith was one of only two current England internationals in the field, but it was York’s Dave Stroughair who ended the Sunderland star’s hopes with a 21-11 opening round defeat.
The early exchanges saw Stroughair open up an 8-1 lead before Smith battled back to only trail 10-8, but that was as good as it got for Smith as Stroughair raced away into a 18-9 lead before securing a 21-11 win.
The eventual winner was Malvern Hill’s Ryan Atkins, who defeated Bournemouth’s Chris Daniel 21-16 in the final.
The other England international, Mid-Suffolk’s Mark Royal, only progressed past one round.
Smith, meanwhile, continued to enhance his reputation on the world stage after reaching the quarter finals of the final World Bowls Tour event of the season – the UK International Open at Blackpool.
Stanley club man Smith was unseeded for the event but defeated the number 11 seed Scotland’s Johnathon Ross 6-6, 8-6 in the first round before then defeating England’s Danny Denison 7-7,11-6.
That set up a quarter-final tie against the number three seed Scotland’s David Gourlay on Thursday.
Despite putting in another good performance, Smith narrowly missed out on a semi-final slot on a tie breaker 7-6,3-7, 2-0.
H In the last 16 of the national over 60s double fours, the final region hope Stanley made an exit after going down 37-36 to Featherstone.
H Bowls England have extended the closing date for entries into the 2014 National Competitions by two weeks. The new closing date is Monday, February 17.