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2019 National County Championships

Over the weekend of 9 and 10 November the Suffolk team and their supporters travelled to Potters Leisure Resort, Hopton-on-sea with the one vision of winning the 2019 National County Championships. Indeed the Suffolk team were hoping to win the event for the seventh year in succession

Eight other counties took part, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Durham, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Northumberland and Sunderland. Each county were represented by six rinks (fours), each rink playing one nine end game against all of the other counties.

The team representing Suffolk was:

A: Pete Runnacles, John Varden, Mick Watkins, Paul Daniels
B: Sue Isles, Steve Isles, Peter Fellingham, Clint Watling
C: Ralph Sadgrove, Adam Hubbard, Andy Gilder, Sam Runnacles
D: Karen Hubbard, Rita Runnacles, Colin Fellingham, Tom Runnacles
E: Sally Goodrich, Graham Davey, Andy Pooley, Sue Gilder
F: Sue Davey, Ally Hobbs, Ellen Grube, Neil Jolly

Suffolk’s first opposition of the competition were Sunderland, the team they had beaten the night before for the Inter-League title and it was rinks A, B and C who hoped to get Suffolk off to a winning start. It was Suffolk B who got the team’s campaign off to a flying start with five shots scored on their very first end. That proved to be the difference, as they held on to that lead for an 11-8 win. Suffolk A then doubled up that win, a controlled performance and a relatively comfortable 11-6 win. The game involving Suffolk C always looked like being the tightest of the session and destined to be a last end decider. In the end, a 6-6 draw was a fair outcome and overall Suffolk were happy with that five point opener.

In the next session rinks D, E and F commenced their weekend, facing Norfolk. None of the rinks made promising starts, but things improved as the games progressed. F’s slow start saw them ship four shots on the first end, but that quickly stirred them into action. They then didn’t lose another end on their way to a one sided 14-4 win. That wasn’t the only turnaround of the session though, as D were staring defeat in the face at 4-6 behind. They saved the best for last though, scoring four late shots for an 8-6 win. Unfortunately E were unable to make it another unbeaten session, always chasing their game and eventually losing 2-10.

The third session saw rinks A, B and C returning to the carpets to play Hertfordshire, who had also made a strong start to the competition. It was a session full of high quality bowls from both sides. This time it was A who made the better start and they duly returned their second consecutive win, by 12-5. The other two games were lower scoring and tighter, with the outcomes in doubt until the final ends. By the end, those games were shared which was a fair reflection. C went one better than their first game draw, with a 7-4 win, but B were just edged out by 4-6.

It was Eastern Counties opposition again in the fourth session, with Bedfordshire the opponents. D set the standard on their first end with an amazing seven shot count and then continued relentlessly scoring shots, a procession, on their way to an incredible 25-3 win. Whilst the other two Suffolk rinks couldn’t compete with that, two further wins were duly delivered. E with a comfortable 10-3 win and F with a convincing 13-1 win. Suffolk’s first maximum six point session of the weekend and hopefully not their last, had taken them into top spot overall, a single point ahead of Cambridgeshire.

It was Durham who Suffolk faced next, in a session of bowls that was very much a repeat of the session that had gone before. Three decent performances which resulted in another three wins. B led the way in a near unblemished game, bouncing back from their last game loss and cruising to a 20-1 victory. A weren’t too far behind them, untroubled on their way to a 14-3 win. C’s game was far tighter, but a win always looked on the cards and so it proved to be, by 8-3. Another six point session maintained Suffolk’s top spot position.

Essex were next for D, E and F and mid way through the session it wasn’t looking great, with all three Suffolk rinks behind on the scoreboards. However this Suffolk team do not know when they are beaten and they just had to hang on in there until performances slowly and steadily picked up and the picture started to look more promising. Indeed by the end of the session, it was the perfect picture of another three Suffolk wins. In three battling displays, D won 11-7, E won 7-4 and F won 9-7, wins that increased Suffolk’s overall lead to three points over Cambridgeshire.

With an odd number of counties, Suffolk sat out the next session and Cambridgeshire took full advantage by scoring six points and leapfrogging Suffolk into top spot. The next session saw the top two play each other in three crucial games. F quickly settled into their rhythm, opening up a comfortable lead that they were never going to relinquish, racing away to a convincing 16-2 win. The news wasn’t as good on the other carpets though, particularly for E who struggled in their game and were always behind, finishing with a disappointing 4-13 defeat. Lastly, whilst D had a tight game, they couldn’t do enough to get over the line, another loss by a slim 7-9. A far from ideal session result meant that Suffolk were now five points behind Cambridgeshire overall, albeit with three games in hand.

Could Suffolk make those additional games count in the final session against Northumberland and finish the day off in style? Well not quite, two wins and a narrow defeat. The wins were secured by B (14-7), helped by a six shot end which took them into the lead, and C (12-5) in a game which they were always ahead in. A lost by the odd shot (8-9), despite a valiant effort on the last end to score a four, which would’ve earned them a draw.

Looking back at the first day, there had been some very good bowls played and some erratic stuff too, particularly towards the end of the day. But the show must go on and consistency would need to improve on the Sunday, if the National title was to be retained by Suffolk. Overall, it was a three horse race and a close one at that. Cambridgeshire sat in top spot on thirty eight points, Suffolk were just a point behind and the dangerous looking Hertfordshire a further point back in third.

Sunderland again provided the first opposition of the day on Sunday morning. Despite an inconsistent Saturday, it was E who pleasingly made the best start of the Suffolk rinks, earning an early advantage and sustaining it, on their way to a confidence boosting 12-5 win. F had a similar result, but they needed a game breaking six shot end in the middle of their game to be sure of the win, by 12-6. D were involved in the closest game of the session, indeed it was a nervy last end decider, with the score at 6-6. Unfortunately for D, they couldn’t quite move the jack to their back bowls, a lost opportunity and a 6-7 defeat.

Could rinks A, B and C go one win better in their first games of the day against Norfolk? Part way through the session, it looked like the answer was “no” following a slow start. But then performances started to improve, consistent bowls started to apply pressure and the games turned. Both A and B ended as comfortable winners by 12-4 and 15-6 respectively. However the excitement came from the game involving C, a tight affair which they were never in control of and they were 6-7 down with an end to play. Indeed with one bowl left, the game was lost until the miracle bowl from skip Sam Runnacles, an incredibly precise drawing bowl tipped out the holding Norfolk shot, moved the jack a fraction to take three shots and a 9-7 win. An important six point session, but Suffolk still trailed Cambridgeshire by a point overall.
The next session saw second versus third, with Hertfordshire the opponents in three crucial games, where neither county could afford to lose them all. It was D who made the better start of the Suffolk rinks, securing an early 4-0 lead. However that was as good as it got, with their lead disappearing and not being able to do quite enough on the last end to avoid defeat, losing 7-8. There was better news from E though, who despite falling behind early on, recovered well to dominate the latter ends and ease away to a 13-7 win. So who would get the session win, well when F were 1-6 down and not playing well, things looked bleak for Suffolk. However they edged their way back into the game with single shot ends and then doubled up on the final end to sneak an unlikely but important 7-6 win. Suffolk were relieved with the 4-2 return against one of their closest rivals.

Staying with local opposition, Bedfordshire were next up and the Suffolk rinks didn’t make great starts. However it is not how you start, but how you finish, and by the end three important wins and a maximum six point session had been secured. B were made to work very hard for their tight 11-8 win, whereas the others eased away to comfortable wins from the middle ends onwards. Good performances from both, C winning 17-7 and A by 13-3.

So with four playing sessions left, Suffolk’s were finally back in top spot overall, but Cambridgeshire were only a point behind and Hertfordshire were still lurking dangerously in third, a further five points back, but not out of the running. Who would have the staying power to take the title?

It was Durham who were up next for D, E and F. After scoring a fantastic seven shots on the first end, F never looked like losing their game. Indeed they continued to pile on the shots, recording a big 18-3 win. It wasn’t quite so simple for the others though, particularly when E were 0-4 down early on. They stayed calm and recovered well though, dropping only one more shot in a low scoring 8-5 win. It was just as low scoring for D, but they had an early 4-0 lead to protect. They did just that, winning a tactical game by 9-3. A second consecutive six point session and suddenly Suffolk had an overall three point lead.

A, B and C faced Essex next, knowing that three wins could prove crucial. The Essex session on the Saturday had been a tricky one, but this one turned out to be less of a test. It was only the game involving A that was in doubt towards the latter ends, but they held their nerve well for an important 8-5 win. It was more straightforward for the other two rinks though, who were in complete control from early on in their games. B ran out very convincing winners with a massive 19-2 victory and C were nearly as comfortable in their 12-2 win.

That was Suffolk’s third consecutive six point session, but still they only held a three point lead, with Cambridgeshire matching them. Suffolk sat out the next session but there was good news, when Cambridgeshire lost a game. However those four points took them back into top spot, albeit only by a point. The top two now played each other, if Cambridgeshire took all the points, they would be champions with a session to spare. Similarly, if Suffolk could win the session, they would be champions with a session to spare. Any other outcome and Suffolk would have to get something in the final session, which Cambridgeshire would be sitting out.

A, B and C took to the mats, knowing exactly what was on the line. If there were nerves, their body language didn’t show it, as all of the Suffolk rinks made positive starts. Indeed the tone of the session was set early on, with B skip Clint Watling playing a fantastic running bowl, to take out an opposition bowl to score a six. B didn’t look back from there and eased away to a 15-6 win, thereby stopping Cambridgeshire from winning the title in that session. Meanwhile both A and C were calmly and steadily increasing their early advantages and taking the games away from the opposition. With a few ends to go in both games, performances were dictating only one outcome, two more Suffolk wins, A and C winning 10-4 and 9-3 respectively. Three near bowl perfect performances under immense pressure and another maximum point session had taken Suffolk to the National title with a session to spare.

With all the pressure finally off and knowing that we are the champions, it was a very relaxed D, E and F who took to the mats to face Northumberland in the final session of the competition. This was reflected in the performances and shot making, as all three rinks secured early leads and comfortably held on to them. Yet another maximum three win session, D (11-5), E (13-4) and F (21-2).

Overall the finishing positions were:

PTS

F

A
Suffolk

81

540

247
Cambridgeshire

70

457

309
Hertfordshire

70

454

287
Sunderland

47

367

378
Essex

44

376

378
Norfolk

43

386

373
Durham

28

300

491
Bedfordshire

27

288

496
Northumberland

22

283

492

Suffolk were National champions for the seventh consecutive year, but for most of the event it had been a very competitive three horse race, with the overall outcome always in doubt.

Looking back over the weekend, Saturday had been a mixed day of bowling, albeit a decent points return, which had kept Suffolk near the top. However Sunday had been an amazing day, losing only two games from twenty four played and finishing the competition with five consecutive maximum point sessions. The second day performances under pressure, in particular those against Cambridgeshire, were Suffolk’s best ever at Potters. To win the event against very competitive Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire teams is arguably Suffolk’s greatest ever achievement and one of which, the team should be extremely proud of.

Across the weekend, every rink contributed good points to the team effort. Particular mentions should go to Suffolk F who had a fantastic weekend winning all eight games and to Suffolk C, who were also unbeaten with seven wins and a draw.

The weekend finished off an impeccable 2018/19 season for the Suffolk squad, winning everything available to them, ECCBA league, Six Counties and Teambowl titles, the ECBA Inter-League title and National Championships. It is one thing being successful, but this team also play the game in the right manner and with a smile on their faces.

During the weekend, the Webber Award (chosen by the captain and selectors) was deservedly won by Adam Hubbard, reflecting his consistent performances across the season and how quickly he had settled into the Suffolk team.

The Suffolk team would like to thank everyone who has supported them during this successful season and particularly to those that travelled to Potters for the National Championships, for their good company, unwavering encouragement and support over two long days of bowling, which was greatly appreciated.

Neil Jolly (County Captain)

You can find the full set of results here.


Inter County League Play-Off Match 2019

On the evening of Friday 8 November at Potters Leisure Resort, the 2019 Inter County League Play-Off match saw the Suffolk team face Sunderland.

This match precedes the National County Championship and is between the Eastern Counties League winners and the Northern Counties League winners.

Each county were represented by six rinks (fours), each playing one nine end game.

The Suffolk team was:

A: Pete Runnacles, John Varden, Mick Watkins, Paul Daniels
B: Sue Isles, Steve Isles, Peter Fellingham, Clint Watling
C: Ralph Sadgrove, Adam Hubbard, Andy Gilder, Sam Runnacles
D: Karen Hubbard, Rita Runnacles, Colin Fellingham, Tom Runnacles
E: Sally Goodrich, Graham Davey, Andy Pooley, Sue Gilder
F: Sue Davey, Ally Hobbs, Ellen Grube, Neil Jolly

Overall, the Suffolk rinks made a steady start and it wasn’t until the third ends of the games, where any real advantages were gained.

Indeed it was on the third end when Suffolk C grabbed complete control of their game, scoring an amazing maximum eight count. It was pretty much one way traffic from there, as they eased away to a comfortable 15-4 win.

It wasn’t too long before Suffolk B added another win. In a game where they were always ahead, they continued to add to their shot total, winning convincingly by 14-6.

Two further points were added when Suffolk F wrapped up what looked like a relatively comfortable 12-4 win. However in reality it had been anything but, as they had to come from 1-4 behind.

Whilst Suffolk’s shot count from the already won matches was good, another point was needed to get them over the winning line. That point was secured by Suffolk A, but when they were 2-8 down, you would not have put any money on it. A fantastic recovery earned them a 10-10 draw.

In the other two games, Suffolk E were involved in a see-saw battle that went right to the final end. Unfortunately they couldn’t do quite enough and the game was lost 6-9. Meanwhile for Suffolk D, it was a case of what should have been. Winning the game well, it all went wrong on the final end, dropping a five to lose by the odd shot, 9-10.

Three wins and a draw was enough though and Suffolk had won the match 7-5 (shots: 66 – 43), to get their weekend off to a winning start.

In doing so, Suffolk had won the title for the fourth consecutive year and for the eighth time in the last nine years.

Neil Jolly (County Captain)


2019/20 Suffolk Squad

On Sunday 13 October the Suffolk squad trials took place at Needham Market Community Centre.

35 bowlers were there from clubs all across the county, having put their names forward to try and get into the Suffolk squad.

Each bowler played four (8 end) rinks games during the day, with every bowl scored on its accuracy.
There was a high standard of bowling throughout the day and by the end of the trials, there was very little to choose between a number of bowlers.
This made picking the squad particularly difficult for the selection committee, but after lengthy debate and careful consideration the following 28 bowlers were selected:

Neil Jolly - Brockley – captain
Sally Goodrich - Claydon – selector
Tom Runnacles - Barking – selector
Paul Daniels – Belstead
Graham Davey - Cockfield
Sue Davey – Cockfield
Peter Elmy - Witnesham
Colin Fellingham - Cockfield
Peter Fellingham – Cockfield
David Ford - Claydon
Andy Gilder - Barking
Sue Gilder - Barking
Jim Goodrich – Claydon
Ellen Grube – Hundon
Ally Hobbs – Claydon
Adam Hubbard – Chelmondiston
Karen Hubbard - Chelmondiston
Steve Isles – Claydon
Sue Isles - Claydon
Andy Pooley – Claydon
Pete Runnacles – Barking
Rita Runnacles – Barking
Sam Runnacles – Barking
Ralph Sadgrove – Hundon
John Varden – Claydon
Mick Watkins – Barking
Clint Watling – Claydon
Emma Watling - Claydon

From this squad, a team of 24 bowlers will be selected for Suffolk’s first ECCBA league match, at home to Essex on Sunday 24 November, at the Chamberlin Hall in Bildeston.

The Selection Committee thanks Michael Ashman, Jane and Richard Sago and Keith Jolly who assisted the selection committee, with scoring all of the trial games.

Neil Jolly


2019 Six Counties Charity Teambowl

On Sunday 22 September, Essex CBA hosted the ECCBA Six Counties Charity Teambowl at Littleport Leisure Centre.

The competition involved the six Eastern Counties, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. Each county were represented by four singles, four pairs and four triples, each playing one seven end game against each of the other counties.

Suffolk were the defending champions having had an amazing day last year, winning with a massive ninety four points. The team were also hoping to win the Teambowl for the seventh consecutive year. The team selected to represent Suffolk was:

S1: Paul Leach (single), Pete Runnacles & Andy Gilder (pair), Jim Goodrich, Ellen Grube & Neil Jolly (triple)

S2: Mick Watkins (single), Don Allum & Colin Fellingham (pair), Ally Hobbs, Graham Davey & Clint Watling (triple)

S3: Sam Runnacles (single), Sue Davey & Peter Fellingham (pair), Karen Hubbard, Rita & Tom Runnacles (triple)

S4: Andy Pooley (single), Sally Goodrich & Paul Daniels (pair), Ralph Sadgrove, Adam Hubbard & Sue Gilder (triple)

Suffolk’s opening opponents were Cambridgeshire, so on paper, a difficult start. It proved to be a difficult start on the mats too, as all four Suffolk singles bowlers were behind early on. For most of the session, it looked like being a disastrous four defeats, but Paul and Andy did very well to salvage drawn games, 6-6 and 4-4 respectively. Mick lost by the odd shot 5-6, and Sam went down 4-7. The pairs had a repair job to do and Sally/Paul settled any early morning nerves by easing away to a comfortable 11-3 win. Two more points were then added by Sue/Peter with a tight 7-5 win and another point by Pete/Andy with a 6-6 draw, in a game they were disappointed not to win. Unfortunately Don/Colin couldn’t make it an unbeaten session, just edged out 4-6. It was now down to the triples to hopefully add further wins and S3 flew out of the blocks, cruising to a 14-2 win. Two more wins followed, in closer games, with S1 and S2 winning 6-4 and 8-4 respectively. Again an unbeaten session eluded Suffolk, with S4 losing 5-8. Whilst not the best performance, Suffolk were relieved to take thirteen points off Cambridgeshire and this was only a point less than early joint leaders Essex and Norfolk, the latter of whom, Suffolk would face next.

Four quality single games followed, but despite improved displays, again wins proved difficult to come by. It took a magic final bowl from Andy to scored three shots and sneak a 6-6 draw and going one better with his last bowl, Mick scored the one shot he needed for a 6-5 win. Paul losing 4-7 and Sam by 2-7. Again the pairs had a job to do to get some points back and again it was Sally/Paul who led the way. Playing well again, they eased away to an 11-1 win, but not to be out done, Don/Colin also won their game by the same score. Sue/Peter then won a tight game 7-4, but unfortunately Pete/Andy were beaten by the smallest of margins, 4-5. The triples games were a mixed bag for Suffolk and in the end were shared, a fair reflection on the session. S2 secured their second win of the day by 7-4 and the other win came from S4 by 7-2. The other two Suffolk triples were always playing catch up, running out of ends, S1 losing a low scoring game 1-6 and S3 losing 4-6. Again, not a great overall performance but again thirteen points scored, leaving Suffolk in second spot, six points behind early pacesetters Essex.

Suffolk were hoping, that was the hardest part of the day over and that points scoring and performance would now go on the up and up.

Hertfordshire were up next and again the Suffolk singles had a tough time. The highlight was Paul’s convincing 11-0 win and two more points were added by Andy with a good 7-6 win. For the second time, Mick was unfortunate to be edged out 5-6 and Sam lost 2-8. The Suffolk pairs had been played the best bowls so far and they went on and had another solid session. Sue/Peter playing particularly well for their third consecutive win, a comfortable 11-3 and Don/ Colin equally as comfortable with a whitewash 11-0 win. Pete/Andy worked hard for a 6-4 win, but unfortunately Sally/Paul suffered their first loss, by 5-7. On to the triples and as Hertfordshire were unable to field a full team, S1 and S4 did not have an opposition. The two other games were contrasting affairs, S3 always in control on their way to a 12-1 win, but S2 made to battle all the way until the last end to record a 7-5 win. Overall Suffolk were pleased with their eighteen points from Hertfordshire. With Essex beaten by Norfolk, Suffolk were now top overall with forty four points, three points ahead of Essex and a further point ahead of Norfolk. Could Suffolk now stay at the top? (hopefully, yes!!)

The penultimate session and Bedfordshire were the opponents. As with their games before, the singles bowlers were made to work hard. Andy continued his fine form for a 6-4 win and he was joined in the winners circle by Mick (8-6) and Sam (9-3), Paul losing a tight game by 5-7. Generally all four pairs had played well all day and this time, their performances were rewarded with an unbeaten session. Top performers were Pete/Andy with an 11-2 win, closely followed by Don/Colin (10-3) and then Sally/Paul, back to winning ways by 8-1. The unbeaten pair of Sue/Peter maintained that record, securing a 5-5 draw from a losing position, for another valuable point. The triples session proved to be a mixed one for Suffolk, the highlights were good performances and wins for both S2 (13-2) and S4 (11-2). However both S3 and S1 struggled, S3 grabbed a 5-5 draw from a losing position, but S1 lost 4-6. The good news though was another strong eighteen point return and Essex were beaten again, increasing Suffolk’s overall advantage. Suffolk remained top with sixty two points, Norfolk had jumped into second with fifty six, with Essex and Cambridgeshire in equal third on fifty.

Could Suffolk finish the job in the final session against a faltering Essex?. It started well, with the Suffolk singles bowlers soon having their opponents in trouble and finally being rewarded for their efforts. A clean sweep of four wins and four good performances too, results of Paul (10-2), Mick (10-1), Sam (6-3) and Andy (11-3). Not to be outdone, the pairs then followed that up with another unbeaten session, this time, two wins and two draws. Sue/Peter completed an excellent day for them with a 10-4 win and Sally/Paul were just as comfortable in their 9-2 victory. As with earlier games, both of the draws were earned from losing positions, good fight backs from Don/ Colin and Pete/Andy for 6-6 draws. Going into the final triples session, Suffolk just needed to get a point on the board to be mathematically safe overall and that was soon safely secured when S4 raced off to an early lead, eventually winning 13-3. Another win was added by S3, 6-5 on a last end decider. At 0-6 down, all looked lost for S1, but again another fight back and a 7-7 draw was salvaged from the jaws of defeat. Unfortunately S2 couldn’t make it an unbeaten session, behind early and despite best efforts, just losing 5-7. Nineteen points from Essex was a great way to finish a successful day for the Suffolk team.

The final points and standings were:

PTS
Suffolk

81
Cambridgeshire

66
Essex

64
Hertfordshire

55
Norfolk

54
Bedfordshire

40

Despite a slow start and a below par performance in the first two sessions, it was a case of don’t panic, everything’s not lost. Performances picked up and it turned out to be another solid all round team display from Suffolk, reflected by the margin of victory overall.

Whilst not at their best for parts of the day, the most impressive feature of the team performance was the number of drawn games earned from losing positions. When not playing at your best, you have to battle for everything and during the day, the team showed great fighting qualities, resilience and the ability to play big shots under pressure.

All of the team contributed to the win, which is pleasing for the captain and selectors. Particular mentions should go to Andy Pooley, unbeaten in the singles with three wins and two draws and the pair of Sue Davey and Peter Fellingham, top performers on the day with four wins and a draw.

Neil Jolly (County Captain)

You can find the full set of results here.