Northants’ hopes of retaining the English Bowling Federation’s Adams Trophy they won last year for the first time suffered a setback at Whittlesey Manor on Saturday.
The local men were beaten by title rivals Lincs 160-166, claiming just six of the 22 points at stake with three winning rinks.
With an unbeaten run of four games completed, the result puts Lincs in the driving seat at the top of the southern section with two matches remaining – Suffolk (away) and North Cambs (home).
For Northants, with no game this weekend and fixtures with Hunts (away) and North Essex (home) to come, they must rely on Lincs slipping up at Suffolk this Saturday and then concentrate on taking maximum points from their remaining two matches.
Home-based father and son, Martin and Lee Welsford, each won on their rinks by two and 12 shots respectively, while Northants’ other win came from the equally dependable Graham Agger – 27-17.
Northants’ Newton Trophy team were unlucky not to turn the tables on Lincs on their first appearance at the City of Peterborough club.
With just one end to play and three of the six rinks still in contention, Northants held a narrow lead, but four shots conceded over those closing stages proved crucial and the match was tied at 168-168 apiece, with Lincs taking the bulk of the points, 13-9, by virtue of winning on four rinks.
Credit must go to Roger Strong’s rink of Jack Corney and Malcolm Squires, who trailed 11-30 after 20 ends, but stuck manfully to their task over the final phase of the match to lose by only 11 shots and keep their side in with a shout.
Elsewhere, Mick Duell skipped Les Sharp and Michael Humphreys to a 32-25 win, while Bob Warters, Cliff Watson and Peter Jessop maintained their 100 per cent record with a 35-17 victory.
Northants 160 (6), Lincs 166 (16) – (Northants rinks only):
Neil Wright, Tony Belson, Lee Welsford won 34-22.
Steve Roden, John Holdroyd, Graham Agger won 27-17.
Nick Wilkie, Paul Buckley, Peter Brown lost 27-32.
Sean Fenlon, Barry Lawrence, Roger Martin lost 23-37.
Roger Stevens, Paul Bailey, Martin Welsford won 31-29.
Adam Warrington, Stephen Harris, Jon Earl lost 18-29.
Northants 168 (9), Lincs 168 (13) – (Northants rinks only):
Jim Ruddy, Phil Afford, Brian Swann lost 25-31.
Les Sharp, Michael Humphreys, Mick Duell won 32-25.
Jack Corney, Malcolm Squires, Roger Strong lost 23-34.
Bob Warters, Cliff Watson, Peter Jessop won 35-17.
Joe Martin, Mick Greaves, Brian Bassam lost 28-31.
Andrew Grief, Peter Holmes, Fred Addy lost 25-30.
The Lincs ladies also proved a problem for the Northants women’s team a few days before the weekend men’s clashes between the two counties.
There was a second defeat in four games in the Donald Steward Trophy for Northants, with Lincolnshire taking the honours 111-99 (16-2) at Peterborough & District, the only home success coming from the rink of Shirley Suffling, Doris Flowers and Julie Masters, who actually recorded the best win of the day with a 27-11 victory.
Over at Parkway, Northants came close to their first win of the season in the Silver Jubilee Vase, just four shots separating the teams in the end after rink honours were shared at two apiece with the fifth tied, but it was Lincs who won overall at 109-105 (13-9).
There were home wins for the rinks of Stella Dale and Gill King, while Wendy Harrold’s finished all square.
DONALD STEWARD TROPHY
Northants 99 (2), Lincs 111 (16) – (Northants rinks only):
Kath Browning, Fiona Richardson, Norma Squires lost 21-22.
Shirley Suffling, Doris Flowers, Julie Masters won 27-11.
Sue Moir, Vie Hatch, Sheila Craig lost 17-23.
Ann Cullingworth, Jessica Phillips, Joan Padley lost 14-29.
Liz Barr, Chris Ford, Hazel Bass lost 20-26.
SILVER JUBILEE VASE
Northants 105 (5), Lincs 109 (13) - (Northants rinks only):
Carol Warters, Myra Landsburgh, Pearl O’Brien lost 14-24.
Margaret Linnell, Elizabeth Wallace, Wendy Harrold 22-22.
Rita Mace, Janet Duffy, Judy Ford lost 17-21.
Marlene Osbourne, Joyce Needham, Stella Dale won 22-17.
Julie Cooper, Peggy Birch, Gill King won 30-25.