In one of the most competitively successful weekends in its history, Stamford Indoor Bowls Club took giant strides towards claiming two Lincolnshire County League titles with significant away wins - at Louth by its mixed team and Scunthorpe by the Men’s A team.
Against Division Two table-topping Louth A, the mixed claimed 14 of the 18 points available with three winning rinks skipped by John Holroyd, Keith Rippin and Martyn Dolby to secure a 28-shot victory by 110-82.
Margaret Bloxham’s enthusiastic squad now sit second, 14 points behind Louth A but with three games in hand and looking odds-on to regain promotion to the first division as champions.
As for the A team, their 14-4 points win at Scunthorpe, thanks to an overall 98-92 scoreline, was inspired by the inclusion of some of its teenage talent, including Stephen Harris, Jay Travis-Jenner and Nathan Rigby, all of whom turned in stellar performances in what had looked on paper a sub-strength side because of absentees.
But a key to Stamford’s success this season - and its challenge for the Division One title - is its strength in depth with willing replacements when first-choice players are unavailable and captain Paul Bailey had few qualms when blooding the youngsters.
Harris in particular, surely a prospect for wider recognition, smothered the jack at lead and along with John Holroyd and debutant Ray Keating helped skip Cliff Watson’s rink to a match-winning 22-13 victory.
Credit too must go to the experienced combination of Barrie Plowman and Peter Edwards who fought back from 6-12 behind to run out 23-19 winners, while a rejuvenated Adam Warrington, fielding three regular leads in his rink, accounted for 2011 national Over-60s singles champion Phil Parker 20-15.
Stamford now face a series of three successive tough games at Lincoln, Spalding and Louth and it will be a measure of their resilience if they can emerge unscathed still with aspirations to bring the first division trophy home.
l Stamford IBC is guaranteed to have a player in the final of the Lincolnshire Over-65 singles after Peter Banks and Bob Warters qualified to play each other in the semi-finals at Grantham on March 30.
In a gruelling series of matches at Sleaford on Sunday, the pair emerged in the last four with three successive wins in the four-bowl, 21-end format.
Banks beat Grantham’s John Pask 24-11, then Lincoln’s N Burton before accounting for clubmate Derek King in a thrilling quarter-final. Leading 17-15, he drew the shot with his last bowl when King held a three count for game.
Warters beat Stamford’s Keith Rippin and Keith Kelly from Louth before claiming his semi-final spot against Trevor Christie, who had earlier edged out Alan Romaine.
Elsewhere in Lincolnshire competitions, John and Moira Holroyd won their mixed pairs comprehensively at Dunholme by 22-8 but Wayne Aspinall, Cliff Watson and Bob Warters lost 12-19 at Horncastle in the triples.
l In the national Over-60s Knock-out Championship, there was disappointment for Stamford quartet Mike Ramsden, Bob Warters, Peter Edwards and Martyn Dolby who lost at Featherstone 12-30, while representing Lincolnshire against Yorkshire.
In a match played with six rinks split between two venues (the other was Lincoln IBC), Yorkshire prevailed by 131-103 and face Hertfordshire in the semi-finals.
l Northants Federation competitions are reaching a climax with Stamford bowlers well to the fore in all competitions. Stephen Harris won through to the semi-finals of the Under-25s singles, alongside defending champion Jon Bailey thanks to a 21-8 defeat of James Harford.
Cliff Watson lost his singles to Brian Martin but paired with Bob Warters and Peter Edwards to overcome the strong Peterborough rink of Rod Maplethorpe, Mick Linnell and Roger Martin 20-15 to reach the semi-final of the two-bowl triples. They now face another city rink skipped by Pete Brown who earlier beat Martin Bailey’s trio with the last bowl of a thrilling match.
Derek King and Mike Ramsden play each other in the semi-final of the Veterans singles after respective defeats of Roger Ward and John Burrows.
Results (Stamford names only):
Lincs Mixed League Division Two: Louth A 82 (4pts), Stamford 110 (14) - M Ramsden, J Dupree, C Ford, K Rippin won 27-11; J Brennan, C Warters, A Barnes, J Little lost 6-31; C Barnes, D Mackie, T Mackie, M Dolby won 28-11; D Hudson, S Moir, P O’Brien, J Holroyd won 37-8; M Holroyd, W Kettle, M Bloxham, P Bailey lost 12-20.
Lincs Men’s League Division One: Scunthorpe 92 (4), Stamford A 98 (14) - D Hudson, J Travis-Jenner, B Plowman, P Edwards won 23-19; K Rawlins, M Ramsden, R Allam, A Warrington won 20-15; W Moris, N Rigby, J Earl, M Bailey lost 16-25; W Aspinall, T Harris, M Owens, P Bailey lost 17-20; S Harris, A Keating, J Holroyd, C Watson won 22-13.
Lincs Over-60s League, Divison Two: Long Sutton 100 (14), Stamford 85 (4) - A Chapman, D Veasey, D Heffernan, D Henshaw won 31-18; T Barwell, T Mackie, J Pearson, J Geary lost 10-23; W Kettle, G Corby, T Freeman, R Harvey lost 9-24; N Kettle, R Graham, P Banks, A Horton won 20-18; D Howarth, D Ingham, T Weaver, A March lost 15-18.