Holders Silksworth, looking to record a fifth consecutive Earl Cup championship, have made a flier to this summer’s title defence.
Silksworth, having only lost three of their last 55 Earl Cup games, must be odds-on favourites to be crowned Division One champions again, and they got off to a flier with a 31-shot 7-0 win at newly-promoted Houghton Town.
The other promoted team, Seaham Town, enjoyed a winning start with an 11½-shot 6-1 home success against Thompson Park, while the remaining game saw Barnes Park and Roker Marine battle out a draw.
In the Second Division, Sunderland narrowly defeated Hetton Workmens by four shots to open up with a 6-1 triumph, while promotion favourites Barnes West End had a good 15-shot 5-2 win at North Biddick and Usworth defeated Hylton CW 5-2.
There were three close affairs in the Third Division. Grindon Mill went down by three and a half shots at home to New Herrington, Whitburn won by four shots at Pemberton and Washington entertained Ryhope in a thriller as the visitors ran out winners by a single shot.
The second round of Swan Cup matches were played, with defending First Division champions Houghton Dairy Lane notching up another win, a 42-shot 7-0 victory over neighbours Houghton Town, while Barnes West End and North Biddick both recorded 6-1 wins.
In the Harold Howey Trophy First Division, Houghton Dairy Lane B made it three wins out of three with a 10-shot 3-1 success at Ryhope A, while Roker Marine A recorded their first win of the season, 3-1 at home to Hylton CW B.
Chester-le-Street narrowly defeated Dawdon by one shot, while Hetton Workmen’s recorded their second 4-0 win, this time at Washington A.
In the Second Division, Sunderland B recorded a third consecutive 3-1 win , edging home by two and a half shots against Barnes Park A, while there were 4-0 wins for Wearmouth, Washington B and Hylton CW A.
Last weekend, the Storey Bowl got underway with holders Hetton Workmen’s enjoying a seven-shot away win at Roker Park to claim a 6-1 victory.
Seaham Town and Thompson Park also recorded 6-1 wins, while Houghton Town and Hylton CW played out a thrilling 68-68 draw.
This week in the Earl Cup, last season’s top two face off as Silksworth entertain Dairy Lane. It has been confirmed that the start time for evening league games is 6.45pm and not 6.30pm.
The Durham County Ladies B team made a disappointing start to their Stella Logan Northern Counties campaign as they went down 127-111 to Yorkshire at Consett Park.
Durham had a couple of winning rinks, with Roker Park’s Maureen Firth steering her quartet to a 33-14 win and Houghton Dairy Lane’s Margaret Metcalf recording a 20-16 win.
Durham entertain Northumberland next week at Pelton Fell.
County competition results, District 2 Pairs: JS Richardson (Roker Marine) 26 D Wilson (Whitburn) 15
District 3 Triples: D Armstrong (Houghton Dairy Lane) 20 M Peach (Houghton DL) 11
Ladies County competition results, Triples: J Sykes (Sunderland) 19 J Ridpath (Owton Lodge) 21
Fours: J Rodgerson (Dairy Lane) 1 S Hind (Lyndhurst) 0, A Anderson (Darlington Woodlands) 15 S Almond (Sunderland) 21
The final World Bowls Tour event was played last weekend at Blackpool.
The two section winners were to be rewarded with a wild card into all the major events next season.
Locally, Gary Smith was looking to repeat his feat from last season. In his opener, Smith was in impressive form as he defeated Scotland’s Michael Stepney 11-5, 8-3 to set up a semi-final against Ireland’s Mark McPeake.
A close first set went McPeake’s way 7-5 and, with one bowl left each in the second set final end, Smith led 10-6 and a tie breaker looked on the cards.
On the last end, Smith was holding shot but McPeake had three bowls in the area. Smith left the stable door open as he dropped his final bowl some six feet short, leaving McPeake an opportunity for a four which he took with both hands as he produced a perfect lift and nudge on the jack for four to level the set and take the match 7-5, 10-10 to leave Smith shellshocked.
In the final, McPeake was beaten 10-3, 6-6 by Tony Webb, while Lincoln’s Billy Jackson secured the other wild card with a hard-fought 4-9, 11-3 tiebreaker win over Connor Cinato.