Smith leads the way as Durham battlers make Liberty progress

Gary Smith helped Durham to victory over Cumbria in the Liberty Trophy
Gary Smith helped Durham to victory over Cumbria in the Liberty Trophy
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Durham County’s Liberty Trophy squad had to dig deep for victory as they made their long-awaited bow in this year’s competition against Cumbria.

With the Carlisle venue still recovering from flood damage, the tie was switched to Penrith, however the 4pm start made it a long day for the Durham squad, albeit a successful one.

At one stage, the visitors trailed by 20 shots across the green, but Durham have in recent years had the knack of making late charges and they repeated it again as they eventually ran out 123-110 winners.

Out of the six rinks, Durham had four wins.

Gary Smith put his World Championship singles exit behind him to guide his rink to a fine 23-15 win over Stephen Farish.

Hartlepool’s Paul Hartley defeated Stuart Airey 24-17 and Darlington’s Andrew Kirtland saw off Ian Gallagher 22-18, while South Shields’ Phil Smithson removed a bowl for a last-end five to dramatically pip Stuart Irwin 24-23 in a thriller.

The only losing squads saw David Bolt go down 20-16 to Gavin Taylor and Hartlepool’s Paul Mosley succumb 18-14 to John Wills.

In the quarter-finals, Durham will face Lincolnshire on February 6, with York the likeliest venue..

Sunderland A’s hopes of reaching the end-of-season play-offs in the Seniors Inter-Club League were rocked by a disappointing 4-1 loss at bottom-of-the-group The Parks.

In the corresponding fixture earlier in the season, Sunderland ran out 4-1 winners, but the 10am start did them no favours as they went down 48-28 in the return.

The only bright spot came from Arthur Baker, Michael Carr, Ray Robinson and Bobby Graham, who withstood a late charge to finish 13-8 winners.

John Jones’s quartet of Pat Collins, Billy Hearne and Ronnie Robson never recovered from a slow start and went down 19-6 to Billy Blyth.

The remaining rink of Peter Bulmer, Barney Walsh, Michael Davis and Billy Ferry recovered from an 8-0 deficit to get to within two shots at 10-8, only to drop 11 shots over the run-in to finish 21-9 down.

The defeat leaves the second play-off spot in the group wide open, with challengers Gateshead providing the next opposition in early February.

Houghton ladies now know they will face Hartlepool in the next round of the Yetton Plate after Hartlepool defeated Scarborough 88-72.

The last-16 tie was due to be played next Saturday, however it has been brought forward to Wednesday at 12.30pm.

The local section of the National competitions are reaching the latter stages.

In the singles, David Bolt (South Shields) moved into the area semi-finals with a 21-16 home win over Stanley’s Mark Higgins.

Bolt will now make a return to Stanley to face Brett Arkley.

Bolt, though, suffered a disappointing exit in the fours semi-final, losing 22-20 in a tight battle at home to West Denton’s Clive Knott.

In the pairs, Patrick and Peter Thomson had a cracking last-bowl extra end win at West Denton, defeating Peter Duffy 21-20.

The Thomson win gives them home advantage in the semi-final against Phil Smithson and Gary Smith (South Shields).

Singles semi-finals: B Arkley (Stanley) v D Bolt (South Shields), D Targar (South Shields) v I McIntosh (South Shields)

Pairs semi-finals: P Thomson (Houghton) v GR Smith (South Shields), P Dixon (South Shields) v D Targar (South Shields)

Triples semi-final: M Laydon (South Shields) v C Knott (West Denton). D Bolt (South Shields) and G Robson (Stanley) have already qualified for the regional play-offs at Durham in March.

Fours play-off qualifiers: I Riches (South Shields), S Hubbard (South Shields), C Knott (West Denton)

The area final of the Over-60s singles saw an all-Shields affair as Alan Lawton defeated Ebby Dent 21-9.

Lawton will now face the winner from the Cumbrian section for a place at the national championships.

Over-60s pairs area final: I Brown (Parks) v B Poulter (Gateshead)

Over-55s triples area final: B Arkley (Stanley) 17 D Craig (Stanley) 9

Over-60s fours area final: D Morgan (South Shields) 15 M London (Parks) 23

The Durham County Under-25s squad will be looking to secure a place in the National Final as they head to Nottinghamshire tomorrow to face Suffolk in the Double Rinks semi-final.

The team is unchanged from the previous win over Yorkshire.

Durham team: B Cairns (Darlington), J Halcrow (South Shields), A Portaway (Hartlepool), N Cummings (Darlington), M Ray (Hartlepool), B Henderson (Houghton), J Sneller (South Shields), B Hopkins (Darlington)

In the latest round of the Seniors Premier League, held at Ferryhill, there were a couple of surprise results.

Firstly, hosts Ferryhill inflicted a first defeat of the season on joint league leaders Stanley, winning 17-9. That defeat for Stanley enabled Darlington B to move two points clear at the top of the league, following another decisive victory, 26-10 against Durham.

The second surprise result saw Gateshead run out unlikely winners over third-placed Darlington A, triumphing 21-13. The remaining match saw Houghton’s John Doyle, Terry Todd and Peter Harding run out convincing 24-9 winners over Great Aycliffe.

At the World Indoor Championships at Potters in Norfolk, England’s Ellen Falkner secured the ladies singles title after a 10-9, 8-7 win over England’s Rebecca Field. That sealed her third success and follows on from the 2005 and 2006 titles.

The mixed pairs final saw England’s Katherine Rednall team up with Scotland’s Darren Burnett to beat the all-Scots double act of Julie Forrest and Alex Marshall 11-5 4-9.