WILTSHIRE'S men bounced back from their opening Middleton Cup (inter-county championship) loss to Devon to beat Worcestershire in their second group game.

They shared the rink honours 3-3 but ran out victors 128-116 to collect 16 of the 22 points on offer to close within two points of second-placed Gloucestershire who they meet in their final group match at home at Royal Wootton Bassett on Saturday, July 7.

Mathematically, if they beat Gloucestershire, Wiltshire could pip Devon for top spot, but realistically the best they can hope for is second spot as Devon’s last group match is against Worcestershire, who have lost both of their group matches so far.

It would be a major surprise if Devon do not win the group and book their usual quarter-final spot versus the other west group winner.

Top Wiltshire rink honours against Worcestershire were shared by the foursomes skipped by Royal Wootton Bassett duo Mel Biggs and Steve Snell, who both registered rink 12-shot wins - the former winning 29-17 while Snell won 24-12.

The third success was gained by Russell Francis rink who won 22-15.

The match was very close until the last few ends with Wiltshire trailing Worcestershire 25-23 overall after five ends but edging ahead 57-54 at 10. Things stayed tight even though Biggs’ quartet pulled in 17 shots between ends 11-15 to help Wiltshire to a 93-88 lead at 15 ends.

Wiltshire then upped their game to move 107-101 up at 18 ends and finally record a 128-116 success.

The selectors have made one change for the final Middleton Cup group game against Gloucestershire.

Ben Gadd, who was unavailable for the Worcestershire game, returns at skip in rink three.

It triggers a chain reaction with Holt’s Tony Keating dropping to the reserves bench with Holt’s Wayne Snook moving up from three to two and Graham Shadwell (Spencer Moulton) moving up also from skip to number three to Gadd.

James Richman retains his place as lead in this rink.

Meanwhile the county men's struggles in the Balcomb Trophy (national county top two fours) continued in Bristol on Sunday as they lost 37-35 to Worcestershire.

Wiltshire team manager Neil Smith said: "“We lost by two on a green that was nearly unplayable by the end of the match.

“It was a farce and a lottery - it made eight good players look like novices, no one could judge the weight, the bowls just would not stop, it was laughable.”

"Ben (Gadd) drew 19-19 with Rob McCaughtrie and Neil Collett lost 20-18 to Andy Walters.

Worcestershire went on to win the regional final, defeating Cornwall 49-48 after an extra end.

They now join the other regional winners Lancashire (north), Sussex (south) and Cambridgeshire (east) in the last four at the men’s national championships at Royal Leamington Spa in August.


Balcomb Trophy regional semi-final at Bristol BC, Rink 1: Paul Kistle (Westlecot), Graham Hatherall (Royal Wootton Bassett), Russell Francis (Spencer Moulton) & Neil Collett (RWB) lost 18-20 to Andy Walters.

Rink 2: Gary Jackson (West), Tom Warner (Salisbury), Wayne Snook & Ben Gadd (both Holt) drew with Rob McCaughtrie 19-19.

Score: Wiltshire lost to Worcestershire 37-39.

Middleton Cup v Worcestershire, Rink 1: Paul Kistle, Mike Jackson (both Westlecot), Dave Godwin (RWB) & Russell Francis (Spencer Moulton) beat Andy Walters 22-15. Rink 2: Phil Gregory (RWB), Tom Warner (Salisbury), Graham Hatherall & Neil Collett (both RWB) lost to Steve Poyner 18-30. Rink 3: James Richman (West), Tony Keating , Wayne Snook (both Holt) & Graham Shadwell (S Moulton) lost to Richard Moule 17-20. Rink 4: Gary Jackson (West), Chris Cheesley, Gary Morphet & Mel Biggs (all RWB) beat Keith Weaver 29-17. Rink 5: James Nobbs (RWB), Mike Titcombe, Ian Jefferies (both West) & Neil Smith (team manager, RWB) lost to Rob McCaughtrie 18-22. Rink 6: Andy Blake, Craig Morphet, Kyle Anderson & Steve Snell (all RWB) beat Jamie Oliver 24-12.

Score: Wiltshire beat Worcestershire 128-116 and by 16pts to 6pts.

THE men's semi-finals in the county triples and fours were held recently at Devizes and proved to be a highly successful day for bowlers from the Royal Wootton Bassett club.

They competed in three of the four semi-finals and won all of them.

The fours team of Kyle Anderson, Tom Walkley, Dave Godwin and Steve Snell beat holders Holt (Wayne Simmonds, Justin Davis, Wayne Snook and Ben Gadd) 20-19 when scoring a single on the extra end that was needed as the two sides were level 19-19 after Holt picked up a three on the 21st and last end to bring the scores level at 19-19 and force an extra end.

In the other fours semi-final the foursome of James Nobbs, Anthony Sprules, Craig and Gary Morphet defeated Avon (Dave Alford, Joe and Tom Newman plus Chris Easton) 16-13 after leading 10-4 at 10 ends and 13-9 at 15.

The two Bassett fours will meet in the men’s county final at Devizes on the weekend of July 28-29 and also represent Wiltshire at the men’s national championships at Leamington in August.

The triples saw the Bassett trio of Craig and father Graham Hatherall together with skip Neil Collett thwart the challenge of Chippenham Town’s Jeremy Haselton, Willie Jones and Steve Heseltine 19-14.

The Bassett triple led 8-1 after five ends but had been pulled back to 11-10 at 10 ends. They increased the advantage to 19-11 at 15 and finally won 19-14.

The other triples semi-final was an all-Salisbury affair which Jamie Reynolds team won beating Dave Russell 21-18.