The 2016 Horwich RMI open Singles competition was won by a delighted though tired Wayne Ditchfield. This year’s competition sponsored by J Maher Ltd the leading horticultural suppliers in Bolton, provided the spectators with an excellent standard of play and many of the games were close battles which could have gone either way.
The quarter finals started with Darren Allsopp having a closer battle than the score suggests with Barry Robinson. Darren just had too much knowledge of the green for Barry and the two counts were decisive.
Although the game had an even start it was Darren who scored heavier when he had the jack. The lead crept up from two to four then to six and although Barry looked like he could get back into the game on a couple of occasions it was Darren who was always in control and a fairly comfortable winner.
Neil Bithell and Martin Ogliev played a very similar tactical game with both looking to play length bowls pegging off a hill. With the green playing quicker this season than previous years this tactic had seen them qualify for the finals night relatively easily. This game saw each player get small runs with the jack as both players were happy playing a similar length. It was Neil who had greater experience on the green and this helped him gain the extra points needed for victory.
Andy Cairns and Harvey Birch were expected to have an interesting battle. Both had qualified using marks across ridges and thereby forcing their opponent to find their own land. It was Andy though who had too much for Harvey on the night. Andy playing round his front leg found a mark to challenge Harvey and with skilful length bowling it was too much for the Lancashire man on the night.
Gary Siswick and Wayne Ditchfield had qualified on the same night so knew what marks each other was looking to play. Gary held the initial advantage though neither could settle on a mark. Wayne was trying to strike off any counting bowls Gary played and this kept Wayne in touch.
It was only when both had reached the ‘mid-teens’ that Wayne found himself able to pull clear. Wayne had much more experience on the green and this got Wayne over the line.
The Semi’s although finished with the same score were quite different games. Darren against Neil had nothing in it all game. Neither was able to pull more than a couple clear. Darren was looking to play longer marks and Neil was happy with the tactic that had seen him get this far by playing length bowls just off a hill. In the end the game could have gone either way. Darren seemingly held the advantage but Neil kept calm, used his experience to claim the last few ends and the game though Darren did little wrong.
The other semi was a slightly strange game. Wayne was dominant from the start showing his greater experience on the green. The sun was by this time had been off the green for a couple of hours and this was slowing the surface. Wayne adapted to this and Andy couldn’t and he looked a frustrated figure as that elusive length escaped him. Wayne was well clear with a ten lead and in ‘cruise’ mode. Then with the game seemingly decided that wonderful mystical length swapped sides and it was Andy on the charge. Wayne resorted to playing running bowls at the jack and it was a connection when Andy had the winning line in sight that got Wayne over the line.
The final was similar with Neil dominant early on and Wayne struggling. Neil had changed tactics as he saw a weary Wayne stride to the green. Playing full corners the Lancashire county selector was in fine form. Before long Neil, playing well was 10-1 up and seemingly cruising with Wayne looking out of sorts and quite dejected.
Wayne is one of the best strikers in the game, but his radar was off and it was only his ability to put a bowl within a foot to the heavy corner that he got the jack from Neil. Then it looked like one of the bowling gods flicked on a switch and Wayne was level, then ahead seemingly within the blink of an eye.
Wayne was playing a twenty five yard two-paced mark which pegged dramatically at the end and his arms were raised in the air more often than someone pegging their washing out. Wayne gave Neil little chance in the second half of the game and ran out a deserved winner.
Darren Allsopp 21 Barry Robinson 12
Martin Ogliev 18 Neil Bithell 21
Andy Cairns 21 Harvey Birch 07
Gary Siswick 17 Wayne Ditchfield 21
Darren Allsopp 19 Neil Bithell 21
Andy Cairns 19 Wayne Ditchfield 21
Neil Bithell 16 Wayne Ditchfield 21