WILTSHIRE ladies and men’s teams both made winning starts to their Johns Trophy and Middleton Cup 2019 campaigns respectively last weekend in their opening inter-county championship group matches.

County ladies, runners-up in the Johns Trophy final last season to Surrey at Royal Leamington Spa, began with a 16 shots west group win over Gloucestershire running-out as 121-105 victors at home at Devizes.

However, away at Victoria BC, Weston-Super-Mare county men were involved in an extremely tight finish to their Middleton Cup group game despite originally holding a 14 shot lead at halfway to edge home by a single shot against Somerset in a 127-126 Cup success.

County ladies took the honours on three rinks, drew on another and lost on two against Gloucestershire to take 17 of the 22 points on offer.

Top of the Wiltshire scoring charts was the Purton 2017 national triples winning trio of Chris Mitchell, Julie Jones and skip Alison Fail, who were joined by Highworth newcomer Deanne Davis at three.

The rink were in brilliant form powering to a 25-9 victory. Next best was the quartet containing Stratton Churchway’s Wendy Anderson and skipped by Box’s Alex Jacobs who won by 11 shots in a 25-14 success. The final win came on a rink skipped by another Box player namely Kathryn Yeoman who edged home 21-19.

The Sue Bird (Warminster) foursome which had Stratton Churchway’s Janet Willis playing at three led 15-11 at 17 ends but were pulled back and had to settle at 21 ends for a 16-all draw.

But the all-Highworth rink of Maggie Jordan, Jo Hicks and skip Linda Young supplemented by Bev Lilley (Devizes) who were tied 17-17 at 18 ends were finally edged out 20-21 in a last end decider.

Wiltshire ladies made a commanding start and led 33-20 overall after five ends and 65-31 after 10.They were pulled back a little by visitors Gloucestershire but still held a 95-74 advantage at 15 ends, 106-86 at 18 and after leading throughout finally won 121-105.

Wiltshire’s next west group match is away to Warwickshire at Stratford-on-Avon on June 22 and appears to be a tough assignment.

Warwickshire thumped Dorset 127-98 in their opening group game which was hosted by Chippenham Town and top the west group.

County men under the leadership of new player/manager Westlecot’s Mike Jackson made a flying start away at Weston-Super-Mare at Victoria BC in their opening Middleton Cup group game against Somerset leading for practically the whole of the game.

Wiltshire men made an incredible start racing into a 46-14 lead across the board after five ends and were 67-53 up at 10.

However, Somerset kept chipping away at their lead reducing it to 92-87 at 15 ends and 106-104 at 18.

Hosts Somerset then went in front overall for the first time on end 19 as Moonrakers failed to score a single shot to trail 106-116.

But back came the visiting Moonrakers on the 20th end to cut the Somerset lead to only 116-117.

And then boosted by a big count of seven on the 21st and last end from the all-Royal Wootton Bassett foursome of James Nobbs, Craig and Graham Hatherall and skip Neil Collett they crept over the finishing line to grab a last gasp thrilling 127-126 victory.

Rink match honours were shared 3-3 with the Bassett trio of skips all leading their quartets to wins - Gary Morphett (21-13), Dave Godwin (24-20) and Neil Collett (26-24).

Twenty-two points were available in this match so both sides take six points each for three rink wins but the crucial 10 points for overall scores goes to Wiltshire despite only getting home 127-126. Therefore Wiltshire open with a very handy 16 points and only drop six and can look forward to their next match this weekend still in contention to win the group.

Team manager Mike Jackson, who came off the subs bench to play for the unavailable Mel Biggs in the Gary Morphett rink and extend his Wiltshire record Middleton Cup caps to 132 commented: “We made a great start to our Middleton campaign with a hard fought one shot win (16-6 on points).

“A flying start saw us go 32 shots up after five ends but Somerset came back strongly and with ends running out they took the lead.”

Jackson continued: “With three ends left overall fantastic counts of seven and three on the rinks skipped by Neil Collett and Dave Godwin (respectively) saw us regain the lead by two shots.

“Gary Morphet’s rink played the last end, kept it tight and saw us home by dropping just a single shot.”

Jackson added: “The team showed great spirit to weather the Somerset comeback and bounce back for the win which sets us up nicely for the rest of the campaign.”

Wiltshire, who have named an unchanged side, entertain Herefordshire who have not played yet, at home this coming Saturday at Bassett (2pm) in their second group match seeking to build on last weekend’s victory over Somerset.

While the following day (Sunday) Wiltshire face Somerset at home also at Bassett (11am) in the Balcomb Trophy, inter-county men’s double rinks competition.

Six of the eight players selected for the Balcomb Trophy tie are from local clubs.

One rink is the all-Royal Wootton Bassett foursome of Kyle Anderson, Mike Snell, Dave Godwin and Steve Snell who won the national fours championship title at Royal Leamington Spa last summer.

The other is Gary Jackson (Westlecot), Wayne Snook (Holt), Graham Shadwell (Spencer Moulton) and Neil Collett (RWB).

EIGHT PARTNERSHIPS have reached the quarter and semi-finals of the Ladies county national pairs championship being staged at Salisbury today (Saturday) - morning (10.15am) and afternoon (2.30pm approx).

The two winning semi-finalists will book a place in county ladies finals day at Bradford-on-Avon BC on July 27 as well as claiming a place at Royal Leamington Spa in August representing Wiltshire in the pairs.

Three of the four pairings in the northern section are from local clubs.

They are the holders Jo Hicks and Linda Young from Highworth, the 2014 champions and 2015 runners-up Jackie Pearce and Janet Willis (Stratton Churchway) and a new pairs team from Westlecot of Kay Webb and Sue Fletcher. The other qualifier in the northern section are Viv Baskerville and Barbara Land (Chippenham Town).

The four clubs from the southern section in the county to qualify for the pairs quarter-finals are Box, Spencer Melksham, Avon and surprise qualifiers Trowbridge Westbourne.

To date foursomes from Westlecot (Ann Haunton, Kay Webb, Linda Perfitt and Lynda Whittingham) and Box (Debbie Shadwell, Jane Taylor, Jean Collier and Michele Williams) have reached the county ladies fours final.

And in the triples the two finalists are Royal Wootton Bassett (Ginny Nash, Maisie and Charlotte Daniell) and Box trio of Debbie Shadwell, Sue Cooke and Alex Jacobs.

As well as competing in the county ladies finals at Bradford at the end of July the four teams and competitors mentioned above have booked places at Royal Leamington Spa in the national ladies championship latter stages in August.

THE MEN’S COUNTY championships are not as far advanced as the ladies at the moment and at best have only reached the semi-finals stage in two events – fours and triples.

In the fours championship semi-finals Holt (Chris Poole) are drawn against Westlecot (Paul Kistle, Ben Choules, Phil Gregory and Mike Titcombe) while Amesbury (Micky Crook) face Royal Wootton Bassett (Dave Snell, Chris Cheesley, Neil Smith and Mel Biggs).

The semi-finals will be played at Devizes on Sunday, June 16.

County men’s triples championships reached the semi-final stage this week with victories in the quarter-finals held at Westlecot on Monday for Royal Wootton Bassett (Kyle Anderson, Dave Godwin and Steve Snell), Salisbury (Tom Warner), Spencer Moulton (Russ Francis) and another Bassett team of Lawrence Smith, Craig and Gary Morphett.

The triples semi-finals will also be played on June 16 at Devizes.

Men’s first round in the pairs was due to commence last evening (Friday) in all four areas - Swindon, Chippenham/Marlborough/Malmesbury, West Wiltshire and Salisbury while the men’s singles does not start until the beginning of July around the county.