Bowls: Houghton Gilpin do just enough to clinch Inter-County League safety
Houghton Gilpin saved themselves from relegation in the Inter-County League, but only just.
Gilpin went into their final fixture against Darlington knowing they needed to collect three points to avoid the drop.
In a nail -biting finale, they collected four.
At Houghton, Mal Baker, Richie Jobling, David Wright and Peter Harding were left to rue a run of six ends without scoring as they went down 21-13 to Stan Blewitt.
However, Joe Sutherland, David Armstrong, Freddie Fletcher and Brian Henderson were always in front against Alan Henderson and a last-end five not only capped off a fine 23-14 win but also securing the required three points, as the home squad finished one shot up.
At Darlington, Tom Patterson, Sam Patterson and John Jones were on the back foot from the start, due to them playing a man short. They only trailed 11-9 on the 16th end against Tony Macey, but things slipped away and it finished 22-13.
A rare bright spot away from home came from Keith Waterson, Foster Johnson, Jack Scullion and Frankie Froud.
Despite being pegged back from 13-6 up to 13-13 against John Lynch, Froud rallied over the last four ends to get home 21-14.
Those scores left the away squad 43-26 down, with Darlington overall 78-62 victors.
The points return was 6-4 to Darlington and, coupled with The Parks’ 9-1 loss to Hartlepool, ensured that both Gilpin and Darlington retained top-flight status.
Sadly, Houghton Kepier will be relegated alongside The Parks.
Final table, Division One: Gateshead B (champions) 50½, Hartlepool 47½, Durham A 38, Darlington 23, Houghton Gilpin 18, Houghton Kepier 17, The Parks 16.
There have been plenty of club finals played at Houghton this week, with Frankie Froud having had a busy week.
Following on from his 21-17 singles win over Peter Brickle, he retained the Over-60s singles title with a 21-11 defeat of Terry Todd.
A third Froud title came along in the Over-60s pairs, teaming up with Mal Baker to beat Bill Laidler and Billy Holmes 22-15.
The Over-60s triples title went to defending champions Joe Sutherland, Freddie Fletcher and an inspired Ian Whorlton, who claimed a 21-9 win over Baker, Peter Thomson and Froud.
Sutherland, Michael Carr, Fletcher and Alan J. Dunn took the Over-60s fours honours with a hard-fought 20-16 success against Baker, Thomson, Froud and Stevie Kempster.
Tomorrow, the mixed pairs and men’s triples finals begin at 10am,
On the Open Singles Circuit, only the top 32 ranked players are guaranteed a place at the grand finals weekend at Potters, and the race is on for ranking points as the remaining three events take place.
This weekend will see events at Bristol and South Shields, while Ipswich will bring the curtain down next weekend.
Regionally, only Scarborough’s Jack Bird is in the top 32. Locally, Durham’s Michael Laydon is 39th, South Shields’ David Bolt 49th and Durham’s former winner Gary Smith 54th.
All three are in action at Shields this weekend, but only a title win would seal a top-32 spot.
Fresh from the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, Bolt faces West Denton’s Peter Duffy. Laydon meets Shields’ Ann Upsall, while Smith is up against Phil Dixon (Shields).
Durham’s Bryan Henderson, beaten in the final of the Hartlepool event, takes on another Shields hope. Stewart Hubbard.
A field of 62 players will battle it out for the £750 first prize.
The seniors’ national championships at Nottingham proved to be very fruitful for the region.
Following on from Hartlepool’s Over-50 men’s triples title and Redcar’s Over-60s ladies pairs triumph, the North East enjoyed another success in the ladies’ Over-60s singles.
Pat Browne (The Parks) lifted the title with a 21-11 win over Taunton Deane’s Di Routley.
Lincolnshire landed the men’s Liberty Trophy, beating Kent 120-107, while Erewash took the ladies’ Yetton Plate title, crushing Ashford 93-56.
The final stages of the Denny Cup take place today at Rugby. Cumbria face Victory, while Moonfleet take on Norfolk.
The remaining national title to be decided is the ladies’ Yetton Trophy at Rugby tomorrow. In the semi-finals, York meet Egham and Torquay United tackle Norfolk.
In the latter stages of the family pairs event, South Shields brothers Shaun and Ian McIntosh saw their hopes of a national title dashed in their opening last-16 tie.
Despite leading for most of the way against Riverain’s Jamie Claydon, the Shields duo narrowly lost 22-21.
South Shields’ hopes of adding another club national title were dashed in the Top Club semi-finals as they were beaten 10-6 by Nottingham at New Earswick.
In the two-bowl singles, James Sneller won 12-11, cancelling out Nina Riches’ 13-12 loss.
Jackie Tallack and Gary Farquhar edged home 17-16 in the mixed pairs, but there was an agonising last-end 19-18 mixed fours defeat for Karen Paterson, Pam Carlin, Paul Sainthouse and Stewart Hubbard.
That left Ann Upsall, Phil Dixon and Ian Riches needing six from the last two ends in the mixed triples, but it was not to be.
The experienced Hartlepool duo of Niall Thompson and Josh Halcrow proved too strong for the gallant Ferryhill duo of Conrad and Nadia Morrison in the Doshi Juniors Pairs final, running out 27-8 winners.
There was a chance to catch some top-class international bowls last week as Hartlepool played host to the WIBC Championships.
Scotland’s Stewart Anderson won the men’s singles title, beating England’s Andy Squire 10-1, 9-3, while the ladies’ title went to Guernsey’s Alison Merrien, after an 8-7, 10-2 defeat of Kerry Packwood (Wales).
Anderson completed a double by collecting the mixed pairs title.
As the indoor season comes to an end, most of the council outdoor greens will open today.
The first Sunderland & District League action takes place next Saturday as the Storey Bowl gets things started.
Defending champions Seaham Town head to Wearmouth, Dawdon host Hylton Cw and Pennywell host Houghton Town.
Thompson Park will be looking to put last season’s woes behind them as they travel to Roker Park. Runners-up Hetton Workmen have a bye.
The traditional Durham County ladies’ A v B team friendly takes place at Ashbrooke on Friday. The first Stella Logan B team game is a week later at Gosforth.