The remaining two club finals at Houghton took place this week and provided a nice little double for Joe Sutherland and Alan J. Dunn.
First, in the Over-60s triples final alongside Ian Whorlton, they faced Michael Wright, Michael Carr and Terry Todd.
A first-end count of three to Dunn set the tone of the final and, by the halfway mark, the Dunn trio had stormed into a 16-1 lead.
As ends started to run out, Todd got back to 20-8 down before another Dunn treble on the 15th end sealed a 23-8 success.
The indoor season at Houghton was bought to a close with the pairs final which saw Sutherland and Dunn take on Tommy Winship and Billy Piggott.
The early exchanges saw Dunn open up a 14-6 advantage and that eight-shot lead was never breached. With the score at 22-12, Piggott shook hands.
There are still a few league vacancies at Houghton for next season, in the Monday 2.30 ladies pairs (x2), Friday 2.30pm ladies triples (x2), Wednesday 4.30pm mixed triples (x4), Sunday 10am men’s fours (x3).
Anyone interested should contact club secretary Margaret Nicholson.
Houghton’s AGM and prize presentation takes place next Saturday at 10am in the dance studio.
Durham’s Gary Smith’s hopes of securing a top-32 place and a chance to defend his Open Singles Circuit title are hanging in the balance.
The defending champion suffered a couple of early exits in the last two events.
In the Wellingborough Open, Smith picked up 17 ranking points for a couple of wins before succumbing in the last 16 to Camberley’s Matt Short, going down 7-2, 3-8, 2-0.
That was followed up by another nine points from a single win in the Hartlepool Open last weekend before going out in the second round 7-8, 8-6, 2-0 to Carlisle’s Ian Gallagher.
Smith is currently 30th in the ranking list, with one final round today and tomorrow at Welford on Avon.
In the first round, Smith will play Sleaford’s Paul Roberts and will need at least a couple of wins to cement a place in the top 32 and a place in November’s Grand Finals day.
The eventual winner of the Hartlepool Open was Lincoln’s Graham Smith.
South Shields’ David Bolt and Hartlepool’s Josh Halcrow both made the last eight.
Plans are already in place for next season’s circuit, with South Shields holding three separate events, commencing September 9, January 6 and April 21/22.
David Bolt, meanwhile, heads to Australia this week as part of a 14-strong Bowls England squad as the build-up to the 2018 Commonwealth Games get underway.
Matches will include a three-day Test match at Broadbeach BC against the hosts from Wednesday to Friday.
That will be followed by a series of one-day events against representative teams from across the Gold Coast from April 30 to May 5.
Bolt is part of a seven-strong men’s squad, consisting of Jamie Chestney (Devon); Andy Knapper (Berkshire); Robert Paxton (Devon); Louis Ridout (Devon); Sam Tolchard (Devon) and Jamie Walker (Northamptonshire).
The women’s squad features Natalie Chestney (Devon); Ellen Falkner (Cambridgeshire); Rebecca Field (Norfolk); Sian Honnor (Kent); Wendy King (Kent); Katherine Rednall (Suffolk) and Sophie Tolchard (Devon).
The series will form the first part of Bowls England’s preparation that will ultimately lead to the selection of 10 players (five men and five women) to represent England at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
It is expected that a squad of up to 10 players of each gender will be named in May 2017 to participate in the Commonwealth Games preparation programme.
Hartlepool held their Master Pairs competition last weekend and the local duo of Jon Forcer and Paul Mosley took the honours with a narrow 16-14 final win over Kris Storf and David Bolt.
South Shields’ Alan Lawton’s hopes of lifting the Over-60s singles national title at Nottingham were dashed at the quarter-final stage.
After a last-16 21-16 win over Exonia’s Kevin Phillips, the Shields star was beaten 21-9 by the eventual champion, Essex County’s John Stewart.
The ladies’ equivalent title went to Chigwell’s Carole Crofter.
In the family pairs, the Hartlepool father and son combination of Alan and Paul Hartley were beaten 22-9 in the semi-finals by the eventual champions, Swale’s Wendy and Lewis King.
In the Liberty Trophy final, Cumbria’s hopes of a fourth title were dashed by a rampant Devon side, who cruised to a 32-shot win. It secured only Devon’s second Liberty Trophy title, with the first some 25 years ago.
The ladies’ Atherley Trophy was retained by Norfolk after a hard-fought 100-82 win over Kent.
The latter stages of the Denny Cup take place today at Bristol.
The semi-final line-up will see Exonia looking for their first title against the most successful Denny club, Cumbria, who have their eyes on a ninth title.
The other semi-final sees 2002 winners Kingsthorpe tackling Folkestone.
The ladies’ Yetton Trophy semi-finals and final take place tomorrow, with North Wilts up against Spalding and Arun facing St Neots.
The Sunderland & District Leagues get underway next Saturday as the Storey Bowls signals the start of four months of glorious weather and free-running greens.
Holders Hetton Workmen’s have dominated the league and will be going all out for a fourth consecutive title. They open their title defence at home to Roker Park.
Last season’s runners-up, Seaham Town, entertain Hylton Colliery Welfare, Thompson Park host Dawdon and Houghton Town welcome Wearmouth.
After dropping out of the league in 2015, Pennywell make a welcome return to the Storey Bowl with a bye week.
Their first match back comes at home to Hetton Workmen’s on May 6.
As the outdoor season gets nearer, there was some more sad news for the Roker Park club.
Having already lost John Wilson, the club lost another popular figure when George Forster sadly passed away. George was a much respected bowler and a good member of Roker Park.