WILTSHIRE ladies return to competitive action early next week following a splendid campaign last season as they begin the defence of their South West Counties League title.

They travel to Devon on Tuesday to the neutral venue of Tiverton West End Bowls Club to face Cornwall.

Eight local players are included in the 24-strong six-rinks team for the opening SWCL match of 2019.

Those are Supermarine’s Pat Jones, Wroughton duo June Corbett and Babs Salter, Purton trio Chris Mitchell, Julie Jones and Alison Fail, plus Highworth’s Deanne Davis and Stratton Churchway’s Janet Willis.

Prior to the match at Tiverton, the county ladies stage their final Johns Trophy trial this Saturday at Wroughton (2pm).

Last season, Wiltshire reached the national inter-county championship final for only the second time in their history but lost to Surrey.

In the trial, 17 of the 40 players chosen hail from eight local clubs.

COUNTY ladies, under the stewardship of new ladies president Ruth Gerrish (Bradford-on-Avon), opened their 2019 series of friendly games against West Glamorgan last Wednesday at Wroughton.

Unfortunately, the weather was not very kind and resulted in a halt being called after only 12 of the scheduled 21 ends had been played.

Wiltshire were ahead on four of the six rinks when the agreed halt came.

They made a slow start and were 35-22 down across the board after five ends but cut the deficit to only 51-49 down at 10.

They scored a further 18 shots and only conceded 10 on the next two ends overall to lead 67-61 at 12 ends when the agreed halt came.

The next ladies’ county friendly game is on May 16 away at Bradford-on-Avon against Warwickshire.

NATIONAL championship qualifying events commenced last Friday in the county ladies fours competition, which lead to Royal Leamington Spa in August for two foursomes from Wiltshire.

The competition is already down to the last eight in both the northern and southern sections of the draw.

The last 16 ties were due to be played on Friday night, with the four winners from the north and south sections progressing to the quarter-finals due to be staged at Amesbury on Saturday, May 18.

Six local teams had reached the last eight in the northern section.

They were Highworth (skip Linda Young), holders Supermarine (skip Susan Griffiths), Wanborough (skip Jean Crepaz), Stratton Churchway (skip Janet Willis) and Westlecot (skip Linda Whittingham).