Warwickshire continued their quest to claim a second Balcomb Trophy with a semi-final encounter with Sussex during the Bowls England Nationals at Victoria Park, Leamington.
The rinks representing the Bears were Matt Wells (Rugby), Adam Smith (Avenue Leamington), Martin Timms (Welford) and Mark Ireland (Erdington Court), Mark Smith (Avenue Leamington), Dan Box (Little Compton), Calvin Wells (Nuneaton) and Tom Millership (Rugby). The team were boosted by the appearance of Andy Smith on the bank who was taken ill during the regional semi-final earlier in the year.
Both Ireland’s rink and Millership’s rink got off to a good start, Millership two up after four ends and Ireland four up after five. With nine ends played Ireland and co were now level but Millership had moved six clear. A couple of fours with singles in response took Ireland six clear and the Millership rink had moved to twelve shots clear. Sussex cut the deficit against Millership by two with fifteen ends played but Ireland and co raced away to lead by sixteen with seventeen ends played. Sussex conceded with the rink scores Ireland 27-11, Millership 18-8 and the overall score 45-19, the Bears through to the final.
Essex awaited in the final having navigated their way past Derbyshire in the semi-finals. The Bears side remained unchanged. After three ends Millership was 8-0 down, Ireland level 2-2. Sixteen unanswered shots for Millership swung that rink around, Ireland now held a two shot advantage. With thirteen ends played things were looking good for the Bears, Ireland seven up an Millership up by six, a good run for Ireland’s opponents took then six shots ahead and for Millership and co their lead was now five, Essex now ahead by one overall. Warwickshire won the twentieth on both rinks by a singles, advantage now with the Bears, Ireland took a single on his last end losing 14-18, Bears now two up overall. On Millership’s rink the Bears held shot, with one wood left the Essex skip knew he had to make two shots for an extra end, he went marginally wide Millership winning 26-19. The overall score of 40-37 sealed a second Balcomb Trophy for Warwickshire, a perfect end to a very emotional campaign.