The final group games of the Endsleigh County Championship just about had it all. Some county’s were in charge of their own destiny but some were trying to get information from a number of other venues and had the abacus working overtime. I think that before the competition started not many would have picked the four but you cannot say they don’t deserve to be there.
This was all very calm and serene really. Shropshire had to beat Gtr Manchester to win the group and this they did recording a home and away victory by fifty-one points. This meant the game between South Yorkshire and Potteries became a, close, battle for second place.
With Derbyshire beating Isle of Man to secure third place in the group in the early start this meant all attention could be on the shoot-out for top place. North Lancs and Fylde led Merseyside by aggregate points only. It was expected to be a tight game between two of the youngest county’s. At North Lanc’s home venue of Leyland and Farington it was the home teams middle block that did the damage and putting the game out of reach. The Merseyside home venue, British Plate, is well know to be one of the best greens around but North Lancs showed no fear. The visitors claimed seven of twelve winners on the way to a thirteen point victory though with the last four going on the green the Merseyside men still had hope of victory.
Whilst Cheshire and Lancashire were engaged in a tough contest, Cheshire winning by ten, the deciding game was between Wales and Yorkshire. In a game littered with big wins it was the away teams who won both games. The Yorkshire away team won by twenty-eight points claiming seven wins and two twenty losers. This proved to be a result the Wales away team couldn’t match. They did win the aggregate by two points which came from only five winners but it was not enough.
To try and list all the permutations possible in this group would take all day. Staffordshire started the day in third place and thanks to nine winners and a sixty-one point win at home they ended the day as group winners. Cumbria matched the win count at home but couldn’t match the heavy scoring of the Staffs men. This meant that Staffordshire finished the group on two wins and an aggregate of 6. The other group game was a local derby between North Midlands, who led the group with a large aggregate lead, and Warwick and Worcester. Although North Midlands won more games they also suffered some heavy losses. This proved vital as they could only win at home by two points and had a nine point loss away. This narrow win for Warwick and Worcester was enough to take them above their local rivals but not enough to keep them clear of the Staffs men. After all the final calculations it was Staffordshire who won the group by a tiny three points.
Interestingly, or maybe not, Warwick and Worcester had the joint third lowest points scored across the competition. Yorkshire were the leading scorers and are widely thought to be deserved favourites for the competition. Though a lot will come down to the selection of home greens. The second and third placed teams in the group move into the Supplementary Championship which will be held at the Irlam Club in Greater Manchester.
Full details are on the BCGBA website.
The first semi-final sees Shropshire play North Lancs and Fylde. Shropshire are using one of their favourite green at Pontesbury Bowling Club. The North Lancs away team have proven to be a very tough outfit to play against and this should be more than a good game. North Lancs and Fylde are using Fox Lane Bowling Club and this should be a green well known to the home team. This green is regularly used in leagues and I would think many will have played on it in the Fox Lane winter league. That said the Shropshire away team is more than capable of adapting to any green.
If I had to offer an opinion on who will win then I would think that Yorkshire and North Lancs and Fylde are deserved favourites. That said Shropshire and Staffordshire are more than likely to cause an upset.