The 2017 English Rinks were hosted by Cambridgeshire
on 16th April at Littleport Leisure Centre.
Unfortunately, owing to a clash with the
Easter weekend, the entry was lower than we would normally expect,
but there was plenty of quality to make up for the quantity,
including the reigning champions who made the trip down from
Durham. The entry also included teams from Cambridgeshire, Suffolk,
Essex, Bedfordshire and Norfolk.
The 15 teams were divided up into 3 groups
of 5 and the smaller entry meant that the competitors would have
the relative luxury of knowing that winning the group, being
runners-up or being one of the best two third-placed teams would
get them through to the knockout stages.
Essex's Chelmer Village topped the group by winning all
their games, although they didn't have an easy ride by any means,
winning twice by a score of 8-7 and once 8-6.
Having lost on the last end to Chelmer,
Littleport Village Hall (Cambs) won the rest of their games
to finish comfortably in second place.
The remaining teams in the group all won
1 and lost 3 games, which wasn't enough to see any of them through.
It was a clean sweep for Reepham Robins (Norfolk) as they
won all four of their games, only being pushed in one fo the
The runner-up spot went to Littleport
(Cambs) who lost just once, but each of their 3 wins had to be
won on the last end and on each occasion the winning largin was
just a single shot.
Although they lost to the top two teams
Ramsey (Cambs) picked up narrow wins in their other two
games and those 4 points were enough to see them through as the
It is worth noting that half of the games
played in the group were won by just a single shot so commiserations
should go to Claydon (Suffolk) who suffered that misfortune three
The holders from Durham had little difficulty in their
group, winning all four games and didn't look liike losing any
After a difficult start with a loss against
Durham, which included dropping 4 on the first end, Kelsale
(Suffolk) won their remaining games relatively comfortably and
were through as runners-up.
Although they lost to the top 2 teams in
the group Ellesmere (Cambs) had little difficulty in their
other 2 games and were through as the best third placed team.
Chelmer Village were off to a steady
start against Littleport, picking up one shot on each
of the first 3 ends, but a 2 on the 4th end put Littleport back
in the game and a 4 on the next end saw the Cambridgeshire team
sweep into a lead which they wouldn't relinquish as they finished
It was slow and steady for Kelsale
as they established a lead over Reepham Robins bit by
bit. There was never much in it between the two teams as Kelsale
picked up one on the first end, two on the second, edging further
away from their opponents, doing just enough to win each of the
first 6 ends to go into the last end 7-0 up. Although Reepham
won that final end they could only pick up a couple of shots
and Kelsale were through.
Having only just played one another in
their final group game the draw brought Durham and Ellesmere
together once again. Their encounter only a few minutes before
had been close up until the last couple of ends which had very
much gone Durham's way. And they picked up exactly where they
left off, 6 on the first end meant the game was pretty much over
before it started as they went on to record a 23-0 victory.
The first few ends between Littleport
Village Hall and Ramsey were close, it was just 2-1
to Littleport after 3 ends, but the next 3 ends saw the game
move further and further out of Ramsey's reach as Littleport
picked up 2,2 and 4. The game was done with and end still to
play butthe Essex team played on to revoer a couple of shots,
Up until this point Durham had looked unbeatable, but
for the first time on the day they lost the opening end and were
behind as Littleport Village Hall got the better start.
The second end also went Littleport's way as they went 3-0 up.
After that it was the team with the last wood who won the end.
Durham were just 1 behind as they took 2, Littleport restored
their lead with 2, Durham were just 1 behind with 2 and Littleport
were back in front by 3 as they took 2 but crucially there was
just an end to go. And once again Durham won the end as they
bowled last but again they could do no better than 2 shots and
the holders were out, 7-6.
For Kelsale it was business as usual,
their Quarter Final had seen them getting shot and holding on
to it and so it was against Littleport. The first 3 ends
saw them taking a single shot away from then end, not a comfortable
start, but a steady one. Littleport were never far away so it
was safety first for Kelsale, doing whatever was needed to win
the end. They took 2 on the 4th end and one more on the 5th to
establish a 6 shot lead, finishing the game with a 3 on the 6th
to win 9-0 with an end to go.
Littleport Village Hall (Beryl
& Colin Wicks and Barry & Maureen Giddens) v Kelsale/Brockley
(Paul, Rita & Mike Daniels and Neil Jolly)
Fittingly for a final this game was as close as it could possibly
be and well worth the wait for those that had stayed on to watch
Littleport Village Hall took the first
end, Kelsale kept it as close as they could and declined to bowl
their last wood with no chance of improving their situation,
Littleport led 1-0.
But the lead was short lived as Kelsale
took 2 on the second end and another 2 on the third. At 4-1 to
Kelsale they were looking good. However Littleport were back
in with a 2 on end 4 and a switch to a longer jack saw them first
level the score and then with 1 more on the sixth retake the
lead and head into the final end 5-4 up.
The 7th end was another close one but Kelsale
had one very lonely looking wood in the head holding shot and
decided to commit to holding on to it by blocking in the hope
of getting an extra end. The tactic worked, they kept the one
shot, levelled the game at 5-5 and it was time for a decider.
Littleport won the toss and went for a
long jack. Their first two woods were spot on, side by side right
in front of the jack. The only thing to do was to move it which
Kelsale did, taking the jack off back to a few inches from the
back of the mat. They were still down but the jack was visible
Their fifth wood drew in between their
opponents' bowls and sat a few inches in front of the jack to
hold and they were looking good. However Colin's first wood was
perfect, somehow pushing away Kelsale's best, leaning against
it to hold and leaving the jack where it was.
Even though that side remained open, there
was they possibility that Kelsale would either promote an opposition
wood or take the jack off. The better option for their penultimate
wood seemed to be the other hand where there was a Littleport
wood perched at the back of the mat about a foot to the side
foot to the side of the jack. The perfect shot would take that
wood off and allow Kelsale's to drop in for shot, that was just
what Neil played and Kelsale held.
Colin had to be bold with his last, the
shot wood was safe from being removed or matched, but he was
just a little wide, no change and Kelsale had the win 6-5.
It was exactly the way a final should go,
all the way to an extra end and all played in the best spirit.