Although they have beaten both their main title rivals, Northants Bowling Federation look like missing out on the national final of the Derbyshire Trophy indoor inter-county championship.
They completed their four-match southern section at Stamford on Sunday with a 95-84 defeat of Norfolk to add to their wins over North Cambs and defending champions Lincolnshire, but they may well rue their opening day defeat by Hunts, who managed only one point from their other three matches.
Although Northants are currently top of the table, Lincolnshire’s clash with Norfolk is effectively a title decider, Lincs needing just eight points from the 18 available to progress through to the final at Newark in April, while Norfolk require a minimum 13 to guarantee their progress.
Only by Norfolk winning on one rink and taking the overall points from the match (13-6) can Northants hope to qualify for the final.
Northants had the chance to take all 18 points against Norfolk and almost guarantee their place, losing one rink by just one shot and letting slip a 20-14 lead in another.
Brian Martin, Joe Randall and Jeff Newson emerged unbeaten throughout the campaign thanks to a 31-16 defeat of a Norfolk rink that included former Northants county regular Dick Noble.
Also in winning form were Nick Wilkie, Andrew Thurston and Simon Law, who led 21-7 at one stage before eventually getting home 24-19.
It was disappointing that the two rinks containing five home-based players were both beaten.
John Holroyd, Bob Warters and Peterborough-based James Harford looked to be seizing control at 20-14, but let it slip over the last eight ends to stumble to a 29-21 defeat.
Stephen Harris, Roger Martin and Martyn Dolby led Ian Wones’ rink 8-3, but lost seven successive ends to trail 15-7 before a spirited comeback saw them take the game to the wire only to drop two shots on the last end and with it a 20-19 defeat.
Northants 95 (14), Norfolk 84 (4) – (Northants rinks only):
John Holroyd, Bob Warters, James Harford lost 21-19.
Brian Martin, Joe Randall, Jeff Newson won 31-16.
Stephen Harris, Roger Martin, Martyn Dolby lost 19-20.
Nick Wilkie, Andrew Thurston, Simon Law won 24-19.
In the Northants Bowling Federation indoor competitions, the rinks of Glenys Edwards and Sheila Craig will meet in the women’s rinks final at Stamford on March 15.
Edwards, accompanied by Joyce Foster and Margaret Andrews, defeated Doris Flowers, Joan Padley and Carol Hunter 21-8, while Craig, with Pat Bussey and Liz Hext, defeated Peterborough rivals Fiona Richardson, Karen Burrows and Julie Masters.
Quarter-finals: Neil Wright bt Richard Montgomery 19-3; Howard Shipp bt Nick Wilkie 23-15; Bob Warters bt Graham Agger 21-16; Derek King bt Adam Warrington 18-11.
Quarter-finals: Shirley Suffling bt Julie Masters 23-9; Carol Hunter bt Gleyns Edwards 20-8; Doris Flowers bt Chris Ford 18-14; Val Du’Kett bt Sheila Craig 20-18.
Semi-finals: Glenys Edwards bt Carol Hunter 21-8; Sheila Craig bt Julie Masters.
Hopes of a top two finish for the Peterborough men’s senior team in the Cambs League received a setback when they were beaten 78-56 at mid-table St Neots B, winning on just one of the four rinks.
Peterborough 56 (2), St Neots B 78 (8) – (Peterborough rinks only):
Dave Smith, Terry English, Pete Harvey, Wilf Redhead won 23-13.
Mick Fuller, Albert Pattemore, Mick Greaves, Frank Paul lost 13-22.
Les Sharp, Ivor Jackson, Don Sutton, Mick Linnell lost 10-19.
Martin Hawkes, Don Paul, Phil Afford, Joe Martin lost 10-24.
The death has been announced of well-known West Ward bowler Harry Thompson.