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Bowls: Froud leads the way as Houghton Sancroft find real momentum in Seniors’ Inter-Club League

Houghton Sancroft, after a slow start to the season, are starting to gather a head of steam in the Seniors’ Inter-Club League.

Following their 5-0 win over The Parks B, the Sancroft outfit atoned for an early-season loss to last year’s play-off qualifiers South Shields by beating them 4-1 at Houghton (40-35).

Jimmy Swinney, Trevor Joicey, John Jones and Frankie Froud were the match-winners as they rattled off 19 shots without reply to defeat Alan Cummings 21-5.

Joe Sutherland, David Wright, Freddie Fletcher and Terry Todd looked down and out, trailing 9-1 at the halfway stage against Bobby Graham, but an 11-1 return on the run-in, including a vital five on the 13th end, got Todd over the line 13-10.

The remaining rink of George Brown, Colin Young, David Sim and Ian Whorlton led 5-4 at halfway, but the wheels came off in the second half as Whorlton slumped to a 20-6 loss.

The five-shot win overall takes Sancroft into the Christmas break back into play-off contention. They kick off 2018 with a trip to group leaders Stanley.

Latest standings: Stanley played 4 pts 18, South Shields 5-14, Houghton Sancroft 5-12, Gateshead A 3-6, Parks B 3-0

The Denny Cup and Denny Plate competitions continue today.

In the Cup, Durham must have a decent chance of reaching the last 16 as they face York, while, in the Plate, South Shields will also be looking to secure a last-16 spot as they face a long trek to Copeland.

Shields team – At Shields: N Ridley, S Hubbard, I Riches, I McIntosh; J McKenna, J Minto, C Yeomans, S McIntosh; At Copeland: D Paterson, P Sainthouse, J Sneller, G Farquhar; P Dixon, S Cairns, K Storf, D .Bolt

Also today, in the ladies’ Yetton Trophy, South Shields face a tough tie against Cumbria.

In the Yetton Plate, Houghton face Eden, with the winners set to face either Scunthorpe or North Cave in the last 16.

Houghton team – At Houghton: J Watt, D Fenwick, E Baker, V Bambrough; S Richardson, OJ Charlton, B Robson, JB Smith; At Eden: M Hall, E Barren, A Vout, N Stephenson; E Barkes, G Armstrong, E Morris, F Phythian

There has been plenty of action in the regional sections of the national championships.

In the singles, only one tie has been completed, with Carl Higgins winning an all-Hartlepool affair against Vinnie O’Neill 21-14. He meets club-mate Josh Halcrow in the last eight.

Latest singles draw, North section: I McIntosh (Shields) v GR Smith (Durham) or P Sainthouse (Shields), M Laydon (Durham) v .McIntosh (Shields), S Hubbard (Shields) v A .Jobling (Gateshead)

South section: D .Fenwick (Hartlepool) v P Hartley (Hartlepool), P .Bostock (Redcar) v P Mosley (Hartlepool), J Halcrow (Hartlepool) v C Higgins (Hartlepool)

Durham’s Mark Higgins booked a quarter-final spot in the pairs, thanks to a 19-9 home win over Stanley’s Garry Robson.

That win sets up an all-Durham affair against Gary Smith, who defeated Richie Mckie 24-16.

Josh Minto came out on top in an all-Shields battle with the McIntosh brothers 17-15 and next meets another Shields pair, after Gary Farquhar’s 17-14 win over Gateshead’s Lee Maughan.

In the southern section., Hartlepool’s Albert Ward sank club-mate Stan Crowe 14-12 and next heads to Ferryhill to face Alan Hind.

Latest pairs draw, North section: M Higgins (Durham) v GR Smith (Durham), J Minto (Shields) v G .Farquhar (Shields)

South section: P Hartley (Hartlepool) v M Ray (Hartlepool), B Attwood (Aycliffe) v M Gleeson (Aycliffe), A Hind (Ferryhill) v A Ward (Hartlepool)

In the triples, the only tie played this week saw Stanley’s Garry Robson beat West Denton’s Peter Duffy 18-15.

Latest triples draw, North section: D Paterson (Shields) or GR Smith (Durham) v G Farquhar (Shields), S Hubbard (Shields) or M Laydon (Durham) v G Robson (Stanley)

South section: P Bostock (Redcar) v P Mosley (Hartlepool), R Hudson v B Attwood (Aycliffe)

In the fours, Stanley’s Brett Arkley eased past West Denton’s Aaron Robson 25-6, while, in the southern section, Paul Hartley won an all-Hartlepool clash 16-15 against Paul Mosley.

Latest fours draw, North section: B Arkley (Stanley) v G Farquhar (Shields) or D Paterson (Shields), P Duffy (West Denton) v P Thomson (Houghton), B Orrell (Gateshead) v N Ridley (Shields)

South section: P Hartley (Hartlepool) v B Attwood (Aycliffe) or R Hudson (Redcar), P Bostock (Redcar) v G Skipp (Hartlepool)

Houghton’s Michael Wright saw his run in the Over-60s singles come to an end with a 21-10 loss to South Shields’ Alan Lawton.

In the next round, Lawton will host Stanley’s Derek Craig.

In the Over-60s pairs, Billy Ferry (Shields) went down 20-12 to Gateshead’s Brian Orrell.

Jackie Tallack and David Bolt (Shields) secured a last-eight spot in the mixed pairs with a last-end 18-16 victory at Durham against Mark Higgins.

Bolt will next face club-mate Jaxon McKenna, who sneaked home 21-20 against West Denton’s Ron Brown.

South Shields’ Jamie Brass went out 17-15 to The Parks’ Pat Browne.

In the mixed fours, Shaun McIntosh steered his Shields quartet to a 20-12 home win over West Denton’s Peter Duffy and will face club-mate Phil Dixon next after the latter’s 17-11 win over Durham’s Michael Laydon.

Durham’s Mark Higgins beat West Denton’s Aaron Robson 15-12, setting up a meeting with The Parks’ Matthew Raftree, who, in turn, defeated Shield’s Paul Sainthouse 18-6.

The next round of the mixed Egham Trophy takes place tomorrow as South Shields and Hartlepool lock horns, with the winners facing Nottingham or Lincoln in the quarter finals.

Shields team – At Shields: P Carlin, A Upsall, P Dixon, S McIntosh; J Tallack, M Charles, S Hubbard, I Riches; At Hartlepool: N Riches, J Chapman, J Sneller, G Farquhar; M Robson, K Paterson, D Paterson, D Bolt

Hartlepool’s involvement in the Egham has resulted in the planned Inter-Club League game tomorrow against Houghton Kepier being put back to next Sunday.

Kepier team – At Houghton: M Wright, B Johnson, G Wallace, TW Todd; A Grimes, K Armstrong, B Walsh, J McAdoo; At Hartlepool: P Thomson (snr), S Tindale, D Todner, P Thomson; G Brown, A Wood, A Patterson, R Mckie

Houghton ladies return to Inter-Club League action against Darlington on Wednesday.

Houghton team – At Houghton: J Watt, OJ Charlton, S Forster, E Faith; D Fenwick, R Turnbull, B Robson, JB Smith; At Darlington: M Metcalf, G Eltringham, J Baker, F Phythian; M Hall, E Barkes, A Vout, N Stephenson

Following last weekend’s ladies international trial, South Shields’ Nina Riches has been rewarded with a non-travelling reserve slot.

Considering Riches is only new to the game, the Shields star definitely has a bright future in front of her.

Hartlepool’s Lauren Mosley is the only other North East player selected in an England squad consisting of three new caps and four recalls.

There was more good news for the Shields club as David Bolt retained his place in the England men’s squad for the Home International Series at Paisley in March.

Hartlepool’s Paul Hartley bizarrely has gone from last season’s travelling reserve to non travelling reserve.

There are no northern-based players involved in either the men’s or ladies Under-25 squads.

Gary Smith’s hopes of repeating last season’s tremendous Open Singles Circuit Grand final success were dashed at Potters.

In a new group format, Durham’s defending champion failed to get out of his group as he suffered two defeats on a sluggish carpet.

In his opener, Smith narrowly went down 7-2, 6-6 to Swale’s Ian Honnor. He then suffered a second loss, 7-3, 5-8 (tiebreaker 0-2) to Malvern Hill’s Mark Atkins.

With the top two in each group qualifying, Smith needed to win his remaining match and hope other the other group result went his way.

Sadly, despite defeating eventual semi-finalist Tom Smith (Erewash) 8-3, 5-4, the Durham star went out.

The eventual winner was 29th-ranked player Martin Puckett (Moonfleet).

In the meantime, Smith looks to collect some ranking points in the Barwell Open on December 23 - he takes on Stamford’s Tony Barwell in the first round.

The top 32 ranked players will qualify for next year’s Grand final, with around 140 points the target to secure a spot.

Durham County Under-25 team manager Dave Kilner has selected the following squad to take on Lincolnshire at neutral York next Sunday in the first round of the double fours.

Team: J Cairns (Darlington), J Minto (Shields), M Barkess (Durham), M Ray (Hartlepool), J Harston (Darlington), K Burton (Darlington), M Gleeson (Aycliffe), J Halcrow (Hartlepool).

There was some sad news for the region as Darlington’s Eric Ramsdale sadly passed away.

A good servant to the game and a big character off the green, Ramsdale was one of the best players at the Darlington club in the 1980s.