Nottinghamshire welcomed the Bears to a bitterly cold Newark Northern BC in the opening round of the Midland Counties League. In an afternoon that included sleet and sunshine it was Warwickshire that took the game to the final wood, securing a 111-110 win but only winning two rinks so they picked up 14 of the available 22 points.

Nothing separated the all Avenue Leamington team of Adam Smith, Rob Maries, Martin Heitzman and Andy Smith from their opponents in the early stages but took control to lead by seven at the midway stage. Smith and co took their lead into double figure with five ends left and while Notts won three out of the last four ends the Bears took the game 20-9. Ewan Mason, Tom Wheeler (both Rugby), Andy Manning and Calvin Wells (both Nuneaton) made a slow start but recovered to trail by one after ten ends. A five on the seventeenth end but Wells’ rink ahead and proved the deciding factor, the Bears winning 23-18.

Martyn Murley (Nuneaton), Rob Robinson (Erdington Court), Matt Wells (Rugby) and Alan Apsey (Welford) held a six shot advantage halfway through, five ends later that had been halved and the hosts took a five on the next end to move in front. With three ends left Apsey and co trailed by four, three singles cut that to one. Final score 17-18. Andy Prickett (Welford), Darren Ward (Rugby), Richard Brittan and Mark Ireland (both Erdington Court) recovered from a four shot deficit after five ends to lead by four with ten ends gone. Notts were again four ahead after sixteen ends, with one end left Ireland and co still trailed by four but a strong finish saw them half the deficit, Notts winning 20-18.

Mark Smith (Avenue Leamington), Steve Taylor (Avenue Coventry), Tom Millership (Rugby) and Colin Jacox (Avenue Coventry) held a slender two shot lead midway through but had to settle for parity with three ends to go. Notts took a four, the Bears replied with a double but it was the hosts that had the last laugh, taking a last end treble to secure a 21-16 win. Jordan Ward, Brian Boardman (both Rugby), Steve Smith (Nuneaton) and Martin Timms (Welford) had to fight back from a slow start to reach parity after ten ends. With six ends left Notts led by four shots, with one end left that had increased to seven. With his last wood to bowls Timms held one shot, with the overall match situation so tight there was a brief delay to double check the overall scores. The Bears would win overall by a shot as things stood, Timms decided against playing his final wood, rink score 24-17 to Notts but an overall victory for Warwickshire.

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