Bowls: Roker Marine rock Silksworth on opening night of the Earl Cup campaign

Seaham's Bryan Henderson secured a cracking County singles bowls victory
Seaham's Bryan Henderson secured a cracking County singles bowls victory
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Roker Marine sprang a surprise on the opening night of the Earl Cup season.

The last of the Sunderland & District league to get underway, Silksworth, last season’s runners-up, succumbed to a 5½-1½ defeat away to Marine.

Holders Houghton Dairy Lane extended last season’s 12-match unbeaten run to 13 straight wins with a 6-1 home triumph against neighbours Houghton Town.

Barnes West End opened up their campaign with a 43-shot 6-1 home win over newly-promoted Hetton Workmen.

In the Second Division, Thompson Park’s 7-0 home loss to Roker Park was their sixth consecutive loss, while Seaham Town beat Whitburn 6-1 and Hylton Colliery Welfare beat Usworth 6-1.

Sunderland ended a nine-game losing streak with a 6-1 Third Division success against Grindon Mill.

In the Swan Cup, Barnes West End followed up the previous week’s 7-0 success at Thompson Park with a 6-1 home win over Roker Marine.

Marine are currently on the worst run of defeats in all the leagues – eight games.

Holders Houghton Dairy Lane extended their unbeaten run to seven games with a hard-fought 5-2 win at Usworth, while both Barnes Park and Silksworth enjoyed 6-1 away wins, at Houghton Town and Seaham Town respectively.

Hetton Workmen’s sneaked home by a couple of shots to record a 4½-2½ win over Thompson Park.

In Division Two, Roker Park completed back-to-back wins with a 6-1 home victory against Pemberton, while Grindon Mill lost a thriller against North Biddick by a quarter of a shot, which left North Biddick 5-2 winners.

The Harold Howey Trophy First Division holders, Barnes West End, recorded a second consecutive 4-0 win, this time at Chester-le-Street.

Both Houghton Dairy Lane squads bounced back from opening defeats with 4-0 wins over Roker Marine A and South Hylton respectively, while Hylton CW B enjoyed a second 3-1 win, with Hetton Workmen the opposition.

Roker Park extended their unbeaten run to five games but had to settle for a 2-2 draw at home to Barnes Park B.

In Division Two, the all-Houghton Town local derby saw honours even for the A and B teams as it finished 35-35, while Pennywell opened their campaign with a 4-0 win at South Hetton.

Whitburn are the early pace-setters, following a second 4-0 win, this time against Roker Marine B.

In the Storey Bowl, defending champions Hetton Workmen made it seven wins on the bounce – stretching back to last season – with a 46-shot 6-1 win at Pennywell.

Seaham Town recorded a fifth consecutive win, defeating neighbours Dawdon 6-1, while Wearmouth ended their losing streak with a cracking 6-1 win over Thompson Park.

Today’s fixtures will see Houghton Town entertain Pennywell, Hylton CW hosting Dawdon, Seaham Town meeting Wearmouth and Thompson Park taking on Roker Park.

The Grindon League kicked off yesterday, but the league suffered a double blow before a bowl had been played as Dawdon and Ryhope both resigned due to a lack of players.

That leaves 10 teams in the league.

Next Saturday, the Durham County A team open up their three-match Muras Trophy campaign against Northumberland at Dairy Lane.

Durham have beaten Northumberland on the last two occasions at Dairy Lane, but, with the loss of a few regulars, it is an ideal opportunity to experiment.

With places in the Middleton Cup squad up for grabs. team manager David Bolt will be keeping a close eye on proceedings, the following team will take to the green.

Durham A team: M Gleeson (Spennymoor), K Burton (Darlington RA), J Bannantyne (Stockton), P Mosley (Stockton); S Baker (Silksworth), J McKenna (Silksworth), P Smithson (Silksworth), G Farquhar (Silksworth); M Peach (Houghton DL), M Higgins (Barnes Park), L Maughan (Silksworth), W Ferry (Silksworth); P Dixon (Silksworth), N Ridley (Silksworth), D Fenwick (Elm Tree), D Bolt (Silksworth); J Halcrow (Silksworth), A Ward (Owton Lodge), I Jackson (Park), J Mansfield (Park); V Rewcastle (Darlington RA), D Todner (Houghton DL), S McIntosh (Silksworth), I Riches (Silksworth). Reserves: D Ray (Park), P Sainthouse (Silksworth), J Harston (Hundens), M Hodgson (Spennymoor), J Taylor (TBC), M Laydon (Barnes Park)

The transition from the B team to the A team has in recent years fallen by the wayside, but Bolt is looking to change that and has included 11 B team players in a 40-man Muras Trophy squad in readiness for the upcoming double header against Yorkshire and Lancashire.

The B team men included are: D. Warnaby (Leadgate), S. Bennett (Pelton Fell), J. Richardson (Roker Marine), A. Hill (Barnes Park), B. Poulter (Usworth), P. Coulson (Darlington RA), J. Wilson (Houghton DL), A. Dunn (Houghton DL), J. McAdoo (Houghton DL), S. Clarke (Hundens), A. Parnell (Stockton)

The first round of the Area 2 County singles takes place on Tuesday with 10 ties.

Silksworth’s David Bolt, the defending county champion, is due to meet Roker Marine’s Stevie Don.

After a change in areas, Seaham Town dropped into the Stockton & Hartlepool area, and Bryan Henderson clinched a cracking first round win.

The talented 19-year-old enjoyed a smashing 21-20 over Stockton’s county skip, Paul Mosley. In round two, Henderson has another home tie against Stockton’s Mark Hodgson.

In the Ladies’ County competitions, there was disappointment for the defending fours champions as Joan Rodgerson’s Houghton Dairy Lane quartet crashed out 18-17 at Darlington North Park against Jane Pattison.

Hetton Workmen’s Norma Stephenson sealed a cracking success as they defeated Darlington Woodlands’ Ann Anderson 22-15.

Stephenson’s reward is another home tie against Bishop Auckland’s Edna Atkinson on Wednesday.

Ladies’ County result – triples preliminary round: M Simpson (Hetton Wkm) 11 A Anderson (Darlington Woodlands) 21

In the national double fours, Roker Marine pulled off a surprise 41-30 win over a fancied Silksworth B squad. Marine will head to Pelton Fell or Spennymoor next.

The final World Tour indoor event, the European Masters, took place last weekend at Blackpool with a prize of two wild card entries into all next season’s major televised tour events.

Durham’s Gary Smith opened up with a straightforward 10-4,10-7 win over Falcon’s James Ripley. That sealed a tie against the home club’s Chris Gale.

An out-of-sorts Smith lost the first set 8-7 but bounced back to his best to take the second set 12-4 to set up a three-end tie breaker.

Smith lost the first end and looked to have sent the tie into a third end after drawing a back toucher only to see it fall back and push the jack to Gale’s bowl to seal Smith’s fate.

Fellow Durham member Michael Laydon was unlucky to go out against Lincoln’s Billy Jackson. Under the old scoring format, Laydon would have won 20-11, but, under the new quicker sets format, Laydon went out 9-6, 0-13, 2-1.

The two Tour cards eventually went to Torquay’s Danny Denison and Swale’s Perry Martin.

The Bonanza bowls format continues to go from strength to strength.

The final indoor event took place at South Shields with 48 players from around the region in action.

The final saw Durham’s Mark Higgins face Houghton’s Peter Brickle and, in the end, it was a weekend to remember for Brickle, who played out of his skin and deserved to take home the £450 first prize.