The Northants’ Newton Trophy team can almost smell the sea air at Skegness as they moved another step closer to the national final being played at the Lincolnshire resort in August.
After making it three wins out of three with a 193-155 win away to Lincolnshire at Spalding on Saturday, they need just five points from their final match at home to Hunts on Saturday week to book their ticket.
Team captain Cliff Watson guided Northants to a first-ever Adams Trophy success in 2015, and now he’s within touching distance of achieving a national final with the Newton team, whose only success in this event was fifty years ago in 1967.
They have been beaten in three other finals, the last time in 1991 when Watson was part of the team, and three of his current squad – Fred Addy, Malcolm Squires and Brian Bassam – were playing when they were runners-up back in 1986.
Northants won on four of the six rinks in the searing heat which demanded the fullest of concentration to collect 18 of the 22 points available.
The scores were level at the halfway stage, but Northants pulled away in the second half, with the rink of Jeff Clipston, Watson and Paul Buckley leading the way with a 52-18 victory.
Equally dominant were the so far unbeaten trio of Fred Addy, Tony Kemp and Barry Lawrence, who recorded 14 shots without reply from the 18th end to eventually run out 37-20 victors.
Jim Ruddy, Mick Greaves and Brian Bassam always held the upper hand extending a 25-12 lead after 22 ends to 36-21 on completion of the 31.
The final points went to Darren Middleton, Bob Warters and Peter Jessop, who switched positions after trailing 9-19 to eventually find a winning combination which took them to a 29-26 victory.
There was little to cheer for the county’s Adams team in terms of points – they lost 4-18 - but they pushed unbeaten table toppers Lincolnshire all the way at Boston before losing by a mere nine shots – 163-172.
The new combination of Adam Warrington, deputy president Dick Noble and Martyn Dolby swept to a 39-19 victory, while Roger Stevens, county president Tony Mace and Rod Maplethorpe edged home by one shot.
Northants 163 (4), Lincs 172 (18) – (Northants rinks only):
Wayne Morris, Paul Bailey, Jonathan Earl lost 22-36; John Holroyd, Tony Belson, Graham Agger lost 25-28; Jack Corney, Steve Roden, Peter Brown lost 26-33; Adam Warrington, Dick Noble, Martyn Dolby won 39-19; Paul Dalliday, Steve Lander, Martin Welsford lost 23-29; Roger Stevens, Tony Mace, Rod Maplethorpe won 28-27.
Northants 193 (18), Lincs 155 (4) – (Northants rinks only):
Peter Cox, Michael Humphreys, Roger Martin lost 20-31; Jim Ruddy, Mick Greaves, Brian Bassam won 36-21; Darren Middleton, Bob Warters, Peter Jessop won 29-26; Les Sharp, Malcolm Squires, Mick Duell lost 19-39; Jeff Clipston, Cliff Watson, Paul Buckley won 52-18; Fred Addy, Tony Kemp, Barry Lawrence won 37-20.
Northants women opened their account for the season in the Donald Steward Trophy with a 136-102 victory over North Cambs at Whittlesey Manor.
They won on four of the five rinks to claim 16 of the 18 points on offer, the visitors claiming the other rink victory with the last bowl of the match which gave them a one shot success.
The rinks of county president Rita Mace and Julie Masters led the way with 33-21 and 30-14 victories respectively, while Norma Squires and Sheila Craig won by three and four shots respectively.
DONALD STEWARD TROPHY
Northants 136 (16), North Cambs 102 (2) – (Northants rinks only):
Carol Warters, Janet Duffy, Chris Ford lost 24-25; Fiona Richardson, Elizabeth Wallace, Julie Masters won 30-14; Kathy Browning, Gill King, Norma Squires won 26-23; Wendy Harrold, Tina Tinklin, Sheila Craig won 23-19; Sue Moir, Margaret Linnell, Rita Mace won 33-21.
After defeats at the hands of Norfolk and Herts, Hunts men head to Suffolk on Saturday hoping it will be a case of third time lucky in the Middleton Cup.
BOWLS ENGLAND TOP CLUB
Parkway avenged their defeat in the Bowls England Top Club competition when comfortably defeating Whittlesey Manor 55-29 in the third round of the national Two Fours event to set up a trip to Higham Ferrers.