Neil and Andy stroll through!
The first qualifying session of the Horwich RMI open singles took place under blue skies on Saturday evening. This season the competition, under new organiser Sue Ainscough, is a one visit 21up with 64 entries. Both Sue and the RMI club are very grateful to J Maher Ltd for their extremely kind sponsorship of the competition.
The first game was a battle between two of Preston’s finest. Gary Daw and John Hanson have met on many greens in the crown green world but this was the first time on the large RMI green. This was a bit of a battle between two bowlers who knew each others game so well and it was Gary who claimed the 21-16 win though in truth the game was closer than the score.
The second game was more one sided as Wigan’s Neil Bithell had a comfortable game against Bolton’s Chris Jolley. Another Wigan bowler to claim a first round was Adrian Cowley against Stretfords Mike Geraghty. The final first round game in the top half saw Huddersfield’s Andy Wadsworth employ excellent corner bowling to beat Ged Bennett from Bolton.
The 1st game in the bottom half of the draw saw Cumbria’s Graham Law beat Wakefield’s Brian Lee. Wigan’s Billy Speed had too much green knowledge for Preston’s Sam Patterson. Andrew Cairns, making his 1st visit to the green since recent housing development on part of the site, found a mark on the green to suit his delivery and gave little chance to his opponent, Wigan’s Dave Cowley. The last game of the first round was a battle between two local players, Lee Evans and Paul Sutcliffe. Neither were overly happy with their game and it was Paul with the extra green knowledge who claimed the win.
The second round saw Neil Bithell continue with his excellent play and gave Gary Daw little chance. Adrian Cowley unfortunately twanged a knee and this left Andy Wadsworth with an easier passage to the qualifying game than he would have expected.
Graham Law and Billy Speed had a marathon contest which could have gone either way. Both had runs with the jack as momentum swung back and forth. Really it was just the greater experience on the green that gave Billy the win after Graham looked like he would claim scalp of one of Lancashire’s finest.
The second round closed with another battle between Andy Cairns and Paul Sutcliffe. Paul led early on before Andy lengthened the game and swept into a 14-8 lead. Try as he might Paul couldn’t quite get back level and in the end it was a four point win for the man from Rawtenstall.
The qualifying games were close contests. The warm weather from the start of the session had been replaced by a rain shower and the floodlights were on. This meant even greater importance to having the jack and setting the length of the mark. Neil Bithell had been playing shorter marks but Andy Wadsworth didn’t let him play that game. Neil managed to get a 12-5 lead but this was built on longer length play. Neil is a past winner of competitions on this green and his experience showed. Eventually Neil claimed a 21-11 win but really it was closer than that.
Andy Cairns always had the best of the game against Billy Speed. Andy has started the season in fine form and this showed in this game. Andy didn’t let Billy dictate the style of game to be played. Andy swept into a 10-2 and 19-7 lead and try as the writing was on the wall for the Wigan man. It was Andy with a 21-9 win and he will return with Neil on finals night on the 4th June.
Gary Daw 21 John Hanson 16
Chris Jolley 06 Neil Bithell 21
Mike Geraghty 06 Ade Cowley 21
Andy Wadsworth 21 Ged Bennett 07
Brian Lee 07 Graham Law 21
Billy Speed 21 Sam Patterson 12
Andy Cairns 21 David Cowley 06
Lee Evans 16 Paul Sutcliffe 21
Gary Daw 09 Neil Bithell 21
Ade Cowley 05 Andy Wadsworth 21
Graham Law 18 Billy Speed 21
Andy Cairns 21 Paul Sutcliffe 17
Neil Bithell 21 Andy Wadsworth 11 (Neil drew no 4)
Billy Speed 09 Andy Cairns 21 (Andy drew no 6)