WESTLECOT regained top spot in the Thames Region of the Wessex League with a 21-shot victory over Oxford City and County last Sunday.

The Oxford side had finished as runners-up in the Thames group last season, so it was a badly needed victory to get the Old Town club back on track for a top-two finish and automatic play-off spot after their loss to Basingstoke side Loddon Vale in game two.

Westlecot were always in control of the match against Oxford C&C, leading from start to finish as they ran-out 84-63 victors and importantly collected 13 of the 16 points that were on offer.

They led throughout the match overall with only the start of the second-half seeing opponents Oxford C&C threatening a comeback.

Westlecot made a flying start and led 31-13 overall after five ends and increased the advantage to 49-19 after 10.

But Oxford responded to cut the gap from 30 shots to only nine as they hit back to be only 56-47 down after 15 ends.

This was a wake-up call for Westlecot and they responded well to open up the gap again to 78-58 after 18 ends and finally win 84-63.

The victory was built on fine performances by the two away rinks in Oxford who both won their matches by 15 and eight shots, while the two home rinks at Westlecot kept matters extremely tight drawing on one rink and only losing by two shots on the other.

Top rink honours went to the foursome of John Anderson, Joe Stout, Tom Pittuck and skip Andy McIntyre who led all the way to beat Richard Gaskins’ four away in Oxford 27-12.

They were closely followed by the foursome of James Nobbs, Geoff Smith, Oli Moody and skip Kyle Anderson (captain) who beat Mark Charlett’s quartet 21-13 in Oxford.

The 15 and eight shot away advantages easily wiped out with profit the two shots home loss by Mike Titcombe and the Phil Gregory home draw.

Titcombe was in fact 10-7 up at 10 ends but 18-10 down at 18. But his rink staged a final flourish to cut the gap to only 20-18 down at 21 ends.

Gregory’s home rink were 13-2 and 14-4 up at five and 10 ends respectively but in the next five ends were hauled back to 14-all at 15. They led 18-17 at 20 ends but dropped a single on the last to finish tied 18-18 with Paul Comley.

Westlecot collected eight points for the overall scores win plus five for two rink wins and a tie.

The 13 points lifted Westlecot into top spot in the Thames Region group table, one point clear of Oxford C&C from three games each. Close on their heels are West Berks (Newbury) on 30 points with Loddon Vale fourth on 26 points but both have only played two games.

Westlecot move into the festive break but West Berks face Oxford & District tomorrow (Sunday Dec 15) while Loddon Vale meet Swindon Manor.

SWINDON MANOR, the other indoor bowls club based in Rodbourne Cheney face an extremely tough task on Sunday if they are to begin a revival to their Wessex League aspirations in the Thames Region this season.

They face Hampshire side Loddon Vale in their fourth Thames group game of the 2019-20 season searching for a first victory. Manor have lost their previous three matches and currently occupy the basement spot in the group table with only two points to date.

Those two points were earned by Barry Romain’s rink who recorded a one shot victory 19-18 over Omar Sharif (Oxford C&C) in their last game.

MANOR and Westlecot both still have an interest in one national team competition each.

Manor ladies have reached the fourth round in the Yetton Plate and face Cotswold (Stroud) on Saturday January 4.

To date, in the second chance Yetton Plate competition, Manor ladies have beaten Rivermead (Reading) narrowly 70-68 and then produced a fine performance to knock-out West Berks (Newbury) 78-64.

This is their best run to date in the Plate competition.

Westlecot’s remaining interest in a national team event lies in the junior David Cornwell Under 25 double rink triples.

In round one, Westlecot beat Whiteknights (Reading) 40-32 and followed that up with a narrow 31-29 victory over Dolphin (Poole, Dorset).

They now meet Hampshire side Loddon Vale (Basingstoke) on December 21 in the double rink triples competition.

MIKE TITCOMBE has reached the Area 14 final in the U25 singles and is just one game away from clinching a place in the last 16 and final stages of the championship event.

The Westlecot England junior international has to meet fellow junior international Lloyd Sabatini from the Whiteknights club in Reading in the final at Oxford City and County on Monday December 16 (6.15pm).

The prize for the winner is a place in the last 16 and final stages of the competition at Warner Leisure Lakeside Hayling Island over the weekend of January 25-26.

Titcombe reached the area 14 final with a 2-0 win in sets over Joe Glenn (Oxford C&C) in round one. He then beat fellow Westlecot teammate Phil Gregory 2-1 in sets and in the semis another Westlecot player Craig Hatherall in sets 2-0.

Sabatini eliminated fellow Reading player Bernard Byles in the semi-finals 1.5-0.5 winning one set and drawing the other.

WILTSHIRE ladies and men are both in action on Saturday in last 16 inter-county matches in the Atherley Trophy and Liberty Trophy.

Four Westlecot ladies; Julia Hunt, Judy Hallard, Sue Reeve and stalwart Wendy Anderson are named in the Atherley side to play Dorset away at Dorchester (1.30pm).

The bulk of the team are drawn from the North Wilts club in Chippenham while the remaining four will be representing Five Rivers, Salisbury.

In sharp contrast, the bulk of the Wiltshire men’s team to meet Somerset away at Bristol City and County IBC on Saturday (10am) are from Westlecot.

Thirteen players are named in the county men’s line-up, Dave Snell, Mel Biggs, Dave Godwin, Kyle Anderson (skip), Andy McIntyre, Phil Gregory, Mike Titcombe (skip), Terry Walton, Paul Kistle, Ian Jefferies, Neil Smith (skip and player/manager), Kevin Embling and Craig Hatherall.

The remainder of the side are from either Five Rivers, Salisbury (seven players) or from North Wilts Chippenham (four players).