Crushing defeat leaves Houghton on brink of Inter-Club relegation

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HOUGHTON’S hopes of escaping a swift return to Division Two in the Inter-Club League were left hanging by a thread as they were beaten 11½-½ by title-chasing South Shields.

Although mathematically Houghton can still survive, it would need an amazing set of results for them to stay up. Their last match is against Hartlepool on March 8.

Darlington’s 10½-1½ victory over bottom-of-the-table Hartlepool means they will retain the title if they beat Sunderland 9-3 or better in their final match on March 1. Last week’s results secured Sunderland’s spot in Division One for another year.

Latest standings: Darlington plyd 4 pts 39, South Shields 4-35, Sunderland 4-31½, Parks 3-15½, Houghton 4-5½ , Hartlepool 3-5½

* The next round of Inter-Club senior fixtures takes place on Wednesday. Sunderland A travel to Hebburn (noon), in Group Three, in the knowledge that a play-off place is already secured, however they still need points to secure top spot in the group to ensure a home draw in the play-off quarter-finals.

Houghton A can do Sunderland a favour as they entertain South Shields.

Sunderland A: M Wright, R Rollason, R Robinson, R Graham; P Collins, B Walsh, F Knubley, J Jones; A Baker, M Carr, M Davis, W Ferry. Reserve: R Robson

Latest standings, Group 2: Hartlepool A 6-24, Darlington B 6-19, Stanley 5-15, Sunderland B 7-13, Park View 6-4

Group 3: Sunderland A 8-32½, South Shields 8-30, Hebburn 9-20½, Houghton A 7-16, Gateshead A 8-10½, Parks B 8-10½

Group 4: Parks A 8-29, Durham B 8-28½, Hartlepool B 7-24, Gateshead B 8-18½, Ferryhill 8-12, Houghton B 7-3

* Stanley take on Folkestone in the Denny Cup quarter-finals at Warwickshire club Rugby Thornfield, while Darlington travel to Grantham, in Lincolnshire, to face Croydon in the Denny Plate quarter-finals. Darlington have a massive incentive to progress as they will stage the semi-finals and final.

* Ian Riches (South Shields) was beaten 21-7 in the Area fours final, going down to Chris Yeomans (The Parks).

The line-ups for the regional finals of the singles and pairs have been confirmed.

Singles: GR Smith, D Bolt, B Arkley (all Stanley), B Sherwin, D McManus (Cumbria), M Squirrell (Hartlepool), M Hughes (Featherstone), S Thompson (North Cave)

Pairs: J Thurlbeck & B Arkley, D Bolt & GR Smith, D Paterson & A Lawton (all Stanley), E Murray & S Begg (Cumbria), C Boston & P Mosley (Hartlepool), J Whitley (Featherstone), B Roberts (Selby), S Thompson (North Cave)

* The Planet Bowls roadshow heads to South Shields on Sunday 8th March, the Open Singles event has a prize fund of £1,100 on offer with a £600 first prize,

Planet Bowls is a spin-off of the East Midlands Premier Bowls Tour and the straight knockout TV sets format is growing in popularity around the country. Entry fee for the Shields event is £21 full details can be found on