Tough task ahead for Sunderland

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Senior Play-Off title holders Sunderland A face a daunting task when they welcome Hartlepool A to Houghton in the quarter-final play-off on Wednesday.

The game is a repeat of last year’s final, and Sunderland will be looking for a repeat victory.

The Hartlepool squad have already tasted defeat at Houghton against the Sunderland B team 4½-½, in one of the earlier group matches.

The following team has been selected for the 12.30 start: P.Collins, W.Hearne, J.Jones, T.Jopling, A.Baker, H.Shields, F.Knubley, W.Ferry, J.Flett, R.Robson, R.Robinson, R.Graham. Reserves – EJ.Forster, R.Rollason

Sunderland’s Inter County squad will have to wait a couple of weeks to find out if they have avoided the drop into Division Two.

Last weekend’s 9-3 defeat to Hartlepool left Sunderland only four points clear of relegation.

Fellow strugglers Gateshead went down 9½-2½ to Darlington, which sealed Gateshead’s return back to Division Two.

That result also coincidently clinched the title for Darlington by only half a point.

With Hartlepool and Great Aycliffe left to play each other, Aycliffe need to collect five points in that final game to send Sunderland down.

Latest Tables: Darlington 5-39½, The Parks 5-39, Sunderland 5-24, Hartlepool 4-23, Gateshead 5-22 ½, Great Aycliffe 4-20

H This season’s County Champion of Champions finals are taking place at Hartlepool this weekend.

Locally, Sunderland’s Dave Morgan, David Bolt and Gary Smith will face Darlington’s Andrew Kirtland in the triples final, while the Houghton father and son Brian Henderson combination, Jimmy McAdoo and Stevie Krimpen face Stanley’s Brett Arkley in the fours final.

The order of play is as follows: Singles final (Sunday 10am) M.Smith (Gateshead) v B.Arkley (Stanley). Pairs Final: (Saturday 2pm) B.Arkley (Stanley) v P.Hartley (Hartlepool). Triples Final: (Sunday 2pm) D.Morgan (Sunderland) v A.Kirtland (Darlington). Fours Final: (Sunday 2pm) B.Arkley (Stanley) v S.Krimpen (Houghton).

H In the National Fours Area play-off, the Stanley quartet of Jaxon Mckenna, Brian Harris, David Bolt and Gary Smith secured a place at the National Championships with a comfortable 20-3 win over Cumbria’s Ronnie McMath.

In the last sixteen, at Melton Mowbray, the Stanley quartet will face Norfolk’s Wayne Wilgress.

Next season, the EIBA are going to experiment with Area 1-4, by introducing a regional finals day.

Each area will be allocated places at the regional finals, according to the number of entries in their Area.

The trial will only cover the following disciplines: Ladies Singles, Pairs, Triples, Fours, Men’s Singles and Pairs, Mixed Pairs.

If the competition at the National Championships is down to the last thirty two, then eight competitors from Area 1-4 will go to a regional venue, the draw will be remade, and they will play for four qualifying places.

If the competition at the National Championships is down to the last sixteen, then everything will be halved.

The dates for the regional finals will be fixed and the venues will be randomly selected across the four areas.

H As the indoor season enters its final two months, thoughts turn to the outdoor scene.

The draw for the Sunderland & District 3-2-1 Knock Out triples is as follows: Prelim: Silksworth v North Biddick, Usworth v Dawdon.

First Round: Whitburn v Barley Mow, Grindon Mill v Houghton Town, Sunderland v Wearmouth, Usworth/Dawdon v Pennywell, Washington v Silksworth/North Biddick, Herrington Wkmn v Roker Park, Seaham Town v Thompson Park, Great Lumley v Ryhope.

H The draw for the BowlsDurham County Competitions, for both local districts two and three, are now available on the BowlsDurham website.

Stanley once again successfully held the Home International series and things ran to form as the final game between holders England and Scotland, decided the outcome.

Prior to the game, both countries had recorded consecutive victories.

England had defeated Ireland by 41 shots and followed that up with a 52 shot win over Wales.

Meanwhile, Scotland defeated Wales by 28 shots and Ireland by 26 shots, which meant a draw for England would have been enough to retain the Hilton Trophy.

In the decider, England were never in the lead as Scotland dominated across the green.

By five ends, Scotland led by 12 shots, which increased to 16 at the halfway mark.

At the fifteenth end, the writing was on the wall as Scotland led by 35 shots.

In the end, Scotland ran out jubilant 43 shots winners to avenge last year’s defeat.

The win brings Scotland to within two series wins of England.

Next year’s series will again return to Stanley.

Locally, Stanley’s David Bolt and Gary Smith continued their partnership, but had a mixed bag of results.

Against Ireland they won 25-17. They lost 19-12 to Wales and also lost out to Scotland 23-22.

England Skips Three match record: A.Thomson 2-1, N.Brett 2-1, G.Harlow 1-2, GR.Smith 1-2, J.Chestney 3-0, S.Airey 2-1.

Final Table: Scotland 6, England 4, Ireland 1, Wales 1.

Series wins (70 played): England 34, Scotland 32, Wales 4, Ireland 0.