WILTSHIRE men have qualified for the Middleton Cup quarter-finals after edging out Warwickshire in a dramatic final group match last Saturday away in Rugby.
They snatched a one-shot victory on the last end of the match as Russell Francis, with the overall scores tied at 112-112, held his nerve to draw shot albeit on a measure, with the very last wood of the match.
Rink honours were shared 3-3 to give each side six points but that last effort from Francis gave Wiltshire the crucial 10 points on offer and overall shots win to enable them to claim top spot in their group and qualify for the quarter-finals against Devon next Saturday.
The match was extremely tight throughout with Warwickshire 29-27 ahead after five ends across the board, but Wiltshire edging in front by two shots 53-51 at 10.
Warwickshire went ahead again to lead 82-81 at 15 ends and 102-98 at 18 before Wiltshire rallied to grab a last gasp one-shot victory with the very last wood.
Wiltshire won the group on 48 points, Worcestershire took second on 41, Gloucestershire totalled 26 while last were Warwickshire on 17.
“Brilliant, brilliant,” said elated Wiltshire team manager Dave Snell. “It could not have been a tighter finish, all square going into the very last end, one bowl left to draw the shot on an off centre jack on a very straight green two and a half feet to win, the bowl drifts past the Warwickshire bowl but does not bend, finishes just past jack high and after a measure we win by one.
“What a tight game throughout I don’t think at any stage there was more than nine shots in the match.
“This is four years in a row that Wiltshire have reached the quarter-final stage of the competition which certainly shows consistency combined with a team spirit second to none.
“We now have our friends from Devon to play again, a repeat of last year’s quarter final, next Saturday, July 19.”
The neutral venue has only just been agreed and will be the green at West Backwell Bowls Club, Backwell, Somerset, next Saturday (2pm).
Wiltshire have announced an unchanged side.
Rink 1: Wayne Simmonds (Holt), Chris Cheesley, Dave Godwin (both Wootton Bassett) & Russell Francis (Spencer Moulton) lost to Dan Box 13-22. Rink 2: Tom Warner, Nick Revell (both Amesbury), Wayne Snook & Ben Gadd (both Holt) beat Alan Aspey 19-12. Rink 3: Gary Jackson (Westlecot), Craig Doughty (Holt), Steve Snell (WB) & Graham Shadwell (S Moulton) beat Colin Jacox 24-22. Rink 4: Kyle Anderson (WB), Justin Davis (Holt), Graham Hatherall & Mel Biggs (both West) lost to Andy Smith 19-23. Rink 5: Paul Kistle, Mike Richards, Ian Jefferies & Mike Jackson (all West) beat Steve Taylor 19-13. Rink 6: Kevin Embling (West), Keith Bailey (Holt), Gary Morphet & Neil Smith (both WB) lost to Calvin Wells 19-20.
Score: Wiltshire beat Warwickshire 113(16pts)-112(6pts).