Royal Leamington Spa’s ladies agonisingly missed out on their first-ever appearance on home soil in the Bowls England National Top Club competition.
Spa made the long journey down to Olveston, just outside Bristol, to play their last-16 match round match against Exmouth-based Madeira BC.
Torrential morning rain had eased considerably by the time the match got underway and, cheered on by more than 30 supporters, Spa made an excellent start.
Within a few ends, Spa’s Lyn Williams and Janice White had opened up a 10-1 lead in the pairs while in the fours, Jan Allibon, Karen Rheams, Sonia Stranks and Wyn Jackson built a strong foundation in their match as they pulled out a 9-4 advantage.
However, in the triples, after picking up a first-end four, a poor run of ends saw Spa’s Bonny Claridge, Jenny Wickens and Donna Kerr trailing 13-4.
Madeira’s Angie Fish won ten out of 11 ends to turn a 5-0 deficit in to a 16-6 lead against Dawn Horne’s in the singles but Horne put in a strong series of ends to pull the match back level, first at 16-all and then 17-all.
A fightback by Spa in the triples saw them trailing by just three shots and although the early lead in the fours game had also turned into a three-shot deficit, with Williams and White maintaining a healthy lead in the pairs, the match was still very finely balanced.
However, over the final stages, Spa’s hopes were dashed as first the singles game was lost 21-17 and a poor last few ends saw the triples team go down 27-14.
Although Spa won the pairs game 19-12, a 24-16 reverse in the fours saw Madeira progress to Victoria Park by virtue of a 3-1 win.
Earlier in the week, Spa’s ladies secured wins in two three-triples friendlies.
Playing at Avenue, Spa edged the early exchanges before a storming performance by the trio of Vi Palmer, Enid Reece and Jenny Wickens saw them claim a convincing 27-5 win.
On the other rinks, Elizabeth Glynne-Jones turned a half-way deficit into a 19-10 win, with Binki Herbert, (16-9) completing the whitewash.
The trio of Dawn Horne, Gloria Higgins and Janice White formed the backbone of a comfortable 60-33 win for Spa against Coventry Stoke.
Their resounding 30-8 success was backed up byWyn Jackson’s trio (18-11), with Donna Kerr narrowly beaten 14-12.
Spa’s men were involved in a very tight six-rink friendly match at Coventry Stoke.
Throughout the clash there were never more than a few shots separating the teams, although going into the final end, Spa trailed by six shots.
However, thanks to a four from Barry Dale, Dave Miller, Rex Fox and Malcolm Wickens in their 26-12 success and a five from Alan Bates, Alan Roe, Richard Ashley and Dick Allibon (29-16), Spa picked up a net six shots to claim a 114-114 draw.
On the other rinks, Dave Gardner was edged out 16-15, Mike Brayne lost 20-12, Jim Tighe went down 26-18 and Jerry Horne suffered a 24-14 defeat.