Bowls: Kepier succumb to Hartlepool, while Durham make winning start to Liberty Cup campaign

Houghton Kepier bowlers (from left): Barney Walsh, Tony Grimes, Eric Downes, Billy Davison, Michael Wright, Jimmy Marldon, Bob Johnson, Karl Armstrong, Terry Todd.
Houghton Kepier bowlers (from left): Barney Walsh, Tony Grimes, Eric Downes, Billy Davison, Michael Wright, Jimmy Marldon, Bob Johnson, Karl Armstrong, Terry Todd.

Houghton Kepier’s Inter-Club League squad ended 2017 on a losing note as they narrowly went down by six shots to Hartlepool.

At Hartlepool, Peter Thomson snr, Steve Tindale, Dan Todner and Peter Thomson jnr looked on course for a cracking win as they led 16-9.

However, in the space of six ends, the Thomson quartet found themselves 21-16 down against Keith Wilford.

Over the last four ends, Thomson rallied and a 6-1 return earned the Kepier quartet a well-deserved 22-22 draw.

The other away rink – George Brown, Richard Thorpe, Alan Patterson and Richie Mckie – were left to rue a barren spell of seven ends in the middle of the game which saw them go from 7-3 down to 17-3 behind.

However, a spirited finish over the final eight ends, including a last-end five, made the score more respectable, with Albert Ward winning 22-17.

Those scores left the away squad only six shots adrift, a decent effort.

At Houghton, it was a case of what might have been.

Tony Grimes, Eric Downes, Karl Armstrong and Jimmy McAdoo led right up to the 19th end against Dale Oram.

But the failure to score on any of the last three ends proved costly for McAdoo’s four as the loss of seven shots condemned them to a harsh 21-15 loss.

Michael Wright, Bob Johnson, debutant Barney Walsh and Terry Todd recorded the only Kepier win.

A late five on the 18th end proved to be the difference as Todd defeated Jim Ainger 21-16.

The home squad finished one shot down overall. Points wise, it ended up being a harsh 8½-1½ defeat for Kepier, who will need a positive result against bottom of the table Darlington in the New Year to have any hope of avoiding relegation.

Houghton Gilpin had a bye and return to action against The Parks in January.

Inter-Club League standings, Division 1: Gateshead B played 2 pts19, Durham 2-18, Hartlepool 2-16½, Houghton Gilpin 2-10, Houghton Kepier 3-8½, The Parks 3-5, Darlington 2-3

Division 2: Dunelm 2-11, Sth Shields 1-10, Ferryhill 1-6, Gt Aycliffe 2-6, Stanley 1-4, Gateshead A 1-3, Shildon 0-0

Seniors Inter-Club League standings, Group 1: Gt Aycliffe 4-16½, Darlington A 4-15, Spennymoor 4-1 0½, Shildon 3-5, Durham 5-3

Group 2: Hartlepool A 5-22, Darlington B 5-18, Ferryhill 5-12, Houghton Gilpin 4-6, Sth Shields B 5-2

Group 3: Stanley 4-18, Sth Shields A 5-14, Houghton Sancroft 5-12, Gateshead A 4-10, Parks B 4-1

Group 4: Hartlepool B 5-22, Parks A 5-16½, Durham B 4-13, Gateshead B 5-5½, Houghton Kepier 5-3

Durham County’s Liberty Trophy squad finally got their attempt at a 12th Liberty title underway last weekend as they faced Cumbria at Durham.

Still smarting from last year’s 52-shot humbling by the same opposition, Durham gained revenge with a 33-shot (109-76) victory.

Across the green, Durham won on four of the six rinks.

Paul Hartley’s (Hartlepool) quartet of Jonathon Forcer (Hartlepool), Carl Higgins (Hartlepool) and Gary Farquhar (South Shields) were the pick of the bunch, with a 25-5 win over Ian Gallagher.

Durham’s Gary Smith defeated Mark Nanson 18-11 and Shields’ David Bolt saw off Stuart Airey 24-17, while Stanley’s John Thurlbeck got home 16-13 against Steve Irwin.

The two Durham casualties saw Hartlepool’s Vinnie O’Neill and Paul Mosley going down 12-11 to Gavin Taylor and 18-15 to David Forster respectively.

Durham will now face Lincolnshire on January 13 at New Earswick.

The teams have met twice in the last four years, with a win apiece.

The Durham selectors have, not surprisingly, named an unchanged team for the quarter-final tie.

Durham team: J Forcer (Hartlepool), C Higgins (Hartlepool), G Farquhar (Shields), P Hartley (Hartlepool); M Barkess (Durham), K Minnis (Durham), R Bewick (Durham), GR Smith (Durham); P Dixon (Shields), M Peach (Shields), I Riches (Shields), D .Bolt (Shields); J Halcrow (Hartlepool), M Higgins (Durham), G Skipp ( Hartlepool), V .O’Neill (Hartlepool); B Arkley (Stanley), B Houghton (Stanley), M Jones (Hartlepool), J Thurlbeck (Stanley); M Ray ( Hartlepool), C Boston (Hartlepool), P Smithson (Durham), P Mosley (Hartlepool). Reserves: J Sneller (Shields), P Sainthouse (Shields), B Henderson, M Laydon (Durham), M Squirrell (Hartlepool)

The County Under-25s were due to take on Lincolnshire the following day in the first round of the double fours competition.

Despite having a selected squad, Durham had to concede after a couple of late withdrawals.

The event is looked upon as a stepping stone into the Liberty team and the concession will be a huge disappointment to county officials.

Houghton Ladies returned to Inter-Club League action in style as they defeated Darlington 83-62.

At Houghton, both home squads recorded wins.

Jenny Smith steered Doreen Fenwick, Ruth Turnbull and Brenda Robson to a cracking 27-12 victory over Val Blewitt, while Joan Watt, Olwyn Charlton, Susan Forster and Ellen Faith defeated B. Henderson 18-14.

Overall, the home squad finished 19 shots up.

Down the A1, Houghton had one rink up and one down.

Margaret Metcalf, Gwen Eltringham, Joan Baker and Florence Phythian eased to a 26-16 success against Sadie Lynch, while Norma Stephenson’s quartet of Maureen Hall, Evelyn Barkes and Audrey Vout were beaten 20-12 by Jane Pattison.

The away squad were still in credit by a couple of shots. Points wise, Houghton ran out 9-1 winners to end 2017 on a high note.

As the season enters the Christmas break, the action in the regional sections of the national championships has been sparse.

In the south section of the singles, Hartlepool’s Paul Hartley defeated club-mate Paul Mosley 21-15 to set up an area semi-final against another Poolie, Carl Higgins.

In the fours, Aycliffe’s Barry Attwood booked a quarter-final place after defeating Redcar’s Richie Hudson 21-12.

Attwood travels to Hartlepool next to face Paul Hartley.

Darlington’s Samantha Pattison moved into the mixed fours semi-finals with a hard-fought 16-15 win over Redcar’s Alan Jones, while Durham’s Mark Higgins also booked a place with a comfortable 20-2 win over Matthew Raftree (The Parks).

South Shields bowler Jonny Morgan’s run in the two-bowl singles came to an end as West Denton’s Michael Bennett inflicted a 21-12 defeat.

Singles draw, Northern section: I McIntosh (Shields) v GR Smith (Durham), S McIntosh (Shields) v S Hubbard (Shields)

Southern section: P Hartley (Hartlepool) v C Higgins (Hartlepool)

Pairs draw, Northern section: M Higgins (Durham) v GR Smith (Durham), J Minto (Shields) v G Farquhar (Shields)

Southern section: P Hartley (Hartlepool) v B Attwood (Aycliffe), A Hind (Ferryhill) v A Ward (Hartlepool)

Triples draw, Northern section: D Paterson (Shields) v G Farquhar (Shields), S Hubbard (Shields) v G Robson (Stanley)

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

Fours draw, Northern section: B Arkley (Stanley) v G Farquhar (Shields), P Thomson (Houghton) v B Orrell (Gateshead)

Southern section: P Hartley (Hartlepool) v B Attwood (Aycliffe), P Bostock (Redcar) v G Skipp (Hartlepool)

Mixed pairs draw, Northern section: M Laydon (Durham) v P Browne (Parks), D Bolt (Shields) v J McKenna (Shields)

Southern section: C Larcombe (Ferryhill) v P Hartley (Hartlepool), P Mosley (Hartlepool) v J Robinson (Aycliffe)

Mixed fours draw, Northern section: S McIntosh (Shields) or P Dixon (Shields) v M .Higgins (Durham)

Southern section: S Pattison (Darlington) v C Higgins (Hartlepool) or P Mosley (Hartlepool)

Stanley’s Brett Arkley secured a place in the final stages of the Warner-sponsored Champion of Champions with an impressive 21-7 win over Hartlepool’s Marc Squirrell.

The final stages are again held at the Warner Lakeside resort, where Arkley will face Felixstowe’s Lee Calver on February 2.

Durham’s Gary Smith heads to Barwell today looking to collect ranking points in the Open Singles Circuit.

Currently ranked 98th, Smith will be looking to kick-start his campaign as he faces Tony Barwell in the first round. There was a blow for the circuit as the planned event at South Shields on January 6 has been cancelled.

With Birmingham being awarded the 2022 Commonwealth Games, it has also been confirmed that Leamington Spa will play host to the bowls event and the para bowls event.

The championship greens at Victoria Park are currently the home of Bowls England and it is hoped that the venue will have a capacity of 3,300 spectators for 2022.