Northants Ladies produced two excellent displays as they claimed victory in the regional finals of the Walker Cup.
The County saw off Norfolk in the semi-final of the Bowls England women’s two-rink competition before beating Leicestershire in the final to earn themselves a place in the national semi-finals in Leamington on August 16.
In their last-four clash with Norfolk at Shire Park BC in Tewin, Hertfordshire, Northants were seeking revenge for the Johns Trophy defeat to the same opponents.
It proved to be a close encounter with the county eventually securing a narrow 38-34 success.
Brenda Bishop’s rink was a little slow to get going and were 6-1 down after four end.
The battled back to 7-7 but were five shots behind soon after before a pick-up of four on the 17th end gave them a 16-15 lead.
But Norfolk managed to get in front again and won the rink by three.
Rebecca Wigfield’s rink were 14-7 to the good after 12 ends but that lead was reduced to two going into the 17th, in which Norfolk held three shots.
However, Wigfield bowled a perfect shot to get through the smallest of gaps and pick up three shots herself.
The county saw it out from there as they wrapped up a seven-shot success to seal a narrow four-shot win overall.
Rink one: Alison Dring, Tina Broderick, Yvonne McKee, Brenda Bishop 18 R Field, J Devitt, C Webb, J Roylance 21.
Rink two: Pat Bodily, Jeannie Flippance, Katie Smith, Rebecca Wigfield 20 L Knights, S King, J Kirby, B Whitehead 13.
In the final, Northants were expecting a stern test from Leicestershire who had beaten Suffolk easily in the other semi-final.
However, it proved to be a fairly straightforward success for the county as they were never behind in the match before winning by nine shots.
Bishop’s rink were quickly into their stride and moved into a 15-3 lead and they eventually won by nine to put the county in control.
Wigfield’s line-up were 8-1 up after just four ends but a huge count of six for Leicester saw them come back into it before the scores were locked at 9-9.
It was still all-square at 14-14 after 12 ends and the two teams continued to exchange shots before the match finished level at 23-23.
But the overall success still belonged to Northants who can now look forward to the National semi-finals next month.
Rink one: Alison Dring, Tina Broderick, Yvonne McKee, Brenda Bishop 21 J Watson, K Kyle, J Groves, D Hurst 12.
Rink two: Pat Bodily, Jeannie Flippance, Katie Smith, Rebecca Wigfield 23 L Green, C Dixon, J Everitt, P Walker 23.
Walker and Marriott move into pairs final
Paul Broderick and Phil Exley will take on Shaun Marriott and Jamie Walker in the final of the men’s County Pairs later this month.
Both duos enjoyed comfortable victories in their semi-final matches at Brackley and the two pairings will now go on to represent Northants at the National Championships next month.
Burton Latimer’s Broderick and Exley beat brothers Kenny and Alan Muir (Thrapston) 19-11 in their last-four clash.
Broderick and Exley took control and were 11-3 up after 10 ends and, although the Thrapston pair picked up five shots without reply over two ends, the Burton duo went on to complete their victory.
Marriott and Walker were six shots up after the first three ends of their clash with Roade’s Colin Barnes and Alan Dunkley.
And the reigning county champions never looked back as their opponents conceded the game after 18 of the 21 ends to be played with the scoreline at 24-9.
Broderick and Exley will play the Norfolk B qualifiers at the Nationals while Marriott and Walker will be up against the Dorset B side.
Both matches will be played at 9.30am on Monday, August 24.
Tansley rink leads the way in County romp
Northants men entertained Leicestershire in a Midland Counties match at Wellingborough and they were seeking revenge after a defeat to the same opponents in the Middleton Cup in May.
Team manager Vernon Gearey was forced into changes and it meant a chance for some emerging players as Connor and Kieran Rollings (Kettering Lodge) and Adam Pitfield (Rushden Town) were all called up.
The County started well and were six shots up after five ends.
They never looked back and moved into a big 72-51 lead after 10.
Leicestershire tried to stay with their hosts but Northants pulled away and eventually sealed a 143-110 success to collect 18 points.
The highest winning rink for the count was the one skipped by Roger Tansley as they won by an impressive 19 shots.
(Leicestershire skips only)
Rink one: David Love, Kieran Rollings, David Walker, Alan Ashby 19 Joe Dawson 22.
Rink two: Connor Rollings, Peter Ward, Richard Lemon, Andrew Manton 28 Steve Wade 14.
Rink three: Tony O’Leary, Martin Gearey, Chris Bland, Jim McKee 20 Adie Smedley 18.
Rink four: Adam Pitfield, Will Walker, John Haines, Darren Childs 19 Adam Hirons 23.
Rink five: Keith Height, Matt Cattell, Iain Walker, Callum Height 25 Dave Simpson 20.
Rink six: Adam Brown, Jonathan Brown, Matt Pownall, Roger Tansley 32 Andy Wye 13.
Jamie handed captain honour by England
Northampton bowler Jamie Walker has been handed the honour of captaining his country when England’s junior team play in the British Isles Series in September.
The competition is being held at Oxford City & County BC on September 12 and 13.
Walker (Northampton West End) will skip a rink, which will include county team-mate Callum Height (Thrapston) and they will be joined by Travis Meller (Isle of Wight) and Marcus Clifton (Leicestershire).
Walker and his team-mates will be looking to make it a hat-trick of series wins, following the successes in 2013 and 2014.