INDOOR BOWLS: Spalding pipped in national final

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It was heartache for Spalding Indoor Bowls Club as they lost a thrilling final in the ‘Mixed Top Club’ national competition on Saturday.

Having beaten Wellingborough 10-6 in the semi-finals, Spalding were edged out by a strong Desborough side at the Rugby Thornfield IBC-based finals weekend.

The competition consists of men’s and ladies singles, mixed pairs, mixed triples and mixed fours with points up for grabs in each event.

Spalding registered victories in the ladies’ singles, triples and fours to secure a victory over Wellingborough in the last four – setting up a mouth-watering clash with Desborough, who defeated defending champions Bournemouth in the other semi.

The final more than lived up to expectations, with a host of top players on display.

Spalding started confidently in the pairs and fours, who both raced into early leads before Desborough fought back.

In the ladies’ singles, Spalding’s Gloria Haney faced a player on-form, with Theresa Darnell-Langton recording the first points on the board with a 19-8 victory.

Next up, was the men’s singles, which proved to be an excellent match and looked like it could be the deciding event considering other rink scores at the time. Spalding’s Matt Whyers nicked it against Simon Jones 17-15 to level the points overall and set up a grandstand finish.

The fours saw Ashley Caress, Rebecca Simpson, Annie Bellamy and Graham Smith put in a fine display of bowling, beating Alan Price 26-20 to give Spalding a real chance.

With two events left to play, they only needed one victory but both triples and pairs found themselves four behind on each rink with two ends remaining.

The triples of Ruby Hill, Paul Simpson and Scott Dunham needed three on the last end to win the match and held four close bowls – only to see Desborough’s Rob Newman play an excellent bowl under pressure to reduce the count to just one, which secured the victory in that event.

Attention then turned to the pairs of Chelsea Tomlin and Calvin Leuty, who also required three shots against Andrew Knapper.

They too were in command until the Desborough skip played the shot bowl onto the jack to end Spalding’s hopes.

Spalding’s consolation is knowing that with an extremely talented young side, they can come back even stronger next year.

Judy Jackson and Jordan Philpott were travelling reserves, while regular Martin Spencer – who played in the early rounds – missed the final through illness.

• Spalding IBC’s friendly team edged out local rivals Fenland Bowlers 97-88 at Long Sutton in what proved a cracking contest.

At the half-way stage, hosts Fenland had gained a potentially decisive 17-shot lead.

They tried desperately to hold on, but Spalding fought back well and by the 16th end were only one shot behind.

At the end of the game Spalding had won by nine shots to complete a stunning comeback.

Best winning rink, with a score of 27-6, was Jenny Collins, Ian Stafford and skip Geoff Craft, who was captain for the day.