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Saturday, 23 May 2015

Wilting White Rose is cut down by Cumbria


By David Taylor

CUMBRIA gained another 16-6 win on Saturday when they beat Yorkshire at Wigton by 21 shots overall. On the face of it, another satisfactory result and one which puts the county firmly on course for a place in the quarter-final.

However, it has to be said that this Yorkshire side was one of the poorest Middleton sides I have ever seen - and in truth Cumbria were not too far ahead of it. Some of the play was distinctly moderate and any spectators who wandered in by chance could have been forgiven for thinking that this was a local league match.

True, conditions were not the best, with temperatures having dropped considerably, a tricky cross wind and the Wigton green, like so many others in the county, still not at its best.

But a lot of the play was simply not up to the standard expected at this level and there will have to be considerable improvement if the side is to have realistic expectations of lifting the Middleton Cup.

Rather strangely, all three Wigton skips lost on their own green. Stephen Farish went down by a single shot in a dire game, while Andrew Baxter went down by four to Alwyn Baron. John Wills drew the short straw - or rink six to be more precise - and was beaten by seven shots.

On the plus side, Niall Currie came up with another victory - seven shots this time - while Trevor Taylor’s four always looked in command in winning by ten shots. Stuart Airey completed the scoring with a 16 shot win against distinctly moderate opposition.

On Saturday week, Cumbria travel to Northumberland for the final group game and as Yorkshire beat Northumberland 18-4, it should be a virtual walkover.

Durham’s 15-7 defeat at the hands of Northumberland on Saturday puts them out of the reckoning but Northumberland have 19 points and Yorkshire have 24. Northumberland need to beat Cumbria 18-4 to edge ahead of us but as Yorkshire are playing against a side which has nothing to play for, they might cause another surprise by sneaking through in the same way that Cumbria did in the final match at Cornfield Road last year.

Yorkshire will have the advantage of being at that venue again but I do not think it will happen. Cumbria will win but Northumberland, despite that early defeat, will provide stiffer opposition. Andrew Baxter is not available for the final group game but I understand that Gavin Taylor is, so a straight swap seems likely.

Team manager John Bell will have concerns about some other areas of the team and it remains to be seen what changes if any he makes.

There were some surprise results in the third round of the triples last week. John Wills was comfortably beaten by Mike Ritchie, who is having a good season, and Neil Karge was comfortably outpointed by Jack Walker.

Ron McMath lost a five on the first end of his game against Gavin Taylor but went on to win 21-8, while Bill Bateman allowed Stephen Farish just four shots while he racked up 17.

At Edenside, Len Docherty did well to beat Alan McGuinness while Eric Gande came from behind to account for Bill Bushby.

Bob Dent trailed 15-6 after seven ends but scored on nine of the remaining 11, including an eight, to win while Jack Warren also came from 19-11 down to beat Ivor Ward 21-20. Rupert Cox scored ten shots in just three ends to beat David Forster 24-17.

The fourth round will be played next Wednesday at Dalston Wigton Park, Courtfield and Wigton.

In the singles quarterfinals, Paul Bannister found Rick Gallagher too strong but the other three games were more closely fought. John Baird, from Shap, had a good 21-13 win over Ken Johnstone at Courtfield.

Current champion Neil Karge came from behind to beat his club-mate Michael Downie 21-19 at Subscription while at Courtfield there was a real cliffhanger between Stuart Airey and Richard Chandler, the former securing that vital 21st and winning shot.

The semi-finals are to be played at Subscription on Friday July - Rick Gallagher to play Neil Karge and Stuart Airey will face John Baird.

Interestingly, the singles semi-finalists are known by June 19 yet when I began playing, the singles competition did not even start until June 20! Just another example of how the annual programme is compressed into the first half of an already short season.

Cumbria’s Armstrong side made a successful trip to Consett on Saturday for the game against Durham, winning 16-6 and by 12 shots overall.

It could have been even better as Brian Warren’s rink went down by just a single shot and Vic Emmerson lost by two, Barry Ditchburn was the other loser, going down by just five shots.

On the plus side, Ian Wells got off the mark for the season when winning by four while John Burns and Paul Irving both scored good eight-shot wins to ensure the victory. With two out of three wins already in the bag, a good win against Yorkshire on Saturday week could bring the trophy back to Cumbria.

Cumbria’s Alsop side has a home game against Durham on Saturday at Dalston. This is a game Cumbria must win if they are to have a realistic chance of taking the title.

Durham did score a good win over Yorkshire but went down by five shots to Northumberland, so Cumbria should have every chance prior to the final game against Northumberland.

Stephen Walker, David Walker and Alan Edmondson won through at Whitehaven, while Neil Karge came through at Appleby.

At Silloth, Paul Wallace was the qualifier, while Anthony Little, Ron McMath and Rick Gallagher won their way through at Edenside.

The fourth round and semi-finals will be played at Edenside on Friday July 16 and the draw is Stephen Walker v David Walker, Anthony Little v Neil Karge, Paul Wallace v R Gallagher and Ron McMath v Alan Edmondson.

Cumbria’s Juniors - the current national champions - travelled to Northallerton for the regional finals. Our youngsters overcame difficult conditions, winning both games to reach the national semi-final and a place at Worthing.

In the first game they beat Lincolnshire and then in the quarter-final beat Durham by 13 shots. Richard Chandler was perhaps the outstanding player, skipping his four to two good wins and I understand a positional move in another county event is imminent.

Courtfield’s 40th Race Week Tournament commenced on Monday and there was an early success for Subscription who took the fours. David May Lawrence Kelly, Mark Nanson and Rick Gallagher came out on top against Stephen Walker, David Clarkson, Jonathon Walker and Carl Neen of Whitehaven.

Gallagher lost out to Jeff Brown, of Stanwix, in the semi-final of the triples on Tuesday.

In the final, the Stanwix trio of Peter Angood, Donald Hartley and Brown could not contain Gavin Taylor, Danny May and Richard Chandler, who went on to a comfortable win.

Cumbria v Durham Alsop Cup, at Dalston on Saturday at 2pm

W Bateman, J Pape, A Walker, J Baird; R Morris, R Irving, C Phillips, R Phillips; D Cannon, D McManus, W Bracken, J McLaren; S Green, B Fieldhouse, R Cox, A McGuinness; C Hamill, G Robson, D Neale, V Emmerson; J Lowther, J Lewthwaite, T Kelton, J Graham.

Reserves: JA Bell, ME Watson