AN UNKIND draw meant only one of Abington's three entries could possibly progress through two rounds of the National Double Rinks.

Ultimately, the team designated 'Abington C' prevailed, though it should be pointed out that the letters were chosen at random, and in quality terms, there's practically nothing between them and their second round opponents, this year's 'Abington A'.

A final aggregate score of 32-29 shows that, if just a couple of shots had been a fraction of an inch different, the outcome could have been completely altered. To get to that stage though, the Cs first had to overcome Roade's sole entrant, and the As had to knock out yet another gang of their clubmates, the so-called 'Abington B'.

The former was practically over as a contest before halfway. In fact, Phil Reeve's rink reached double figures in just three ends. They didn't concede until the ninth, which after Bowls England's format changes is now closer to the end than the start. A five on the sixth end put captain Jonathan Brown's rink 9-1 up in their game and effectively ensured that the match wouldn't go even the new reduced distance of 15 ends.

Curiously, the first all-Abington affair ended with a more emphatic result despite going the distance. With 10 ends gone on each rink, the score was exactly level, but Peter Milburn's rink suddenly clicked into turbo drive, scoring three 4s and a 5. For all their capabilities, B-team captain Dave Fage's unit were never likely to replicate this against John Freeman's (still the reigning county senior fours champions), and indeed also dropped more than they scored in the closing stages.

So, 10 days later, came (effectively) a playoff to be Abington's representatives in the competition this year. Despite the green's unseasonable heaviness, a classic contest ensued, with some excellent bowling from all and a contest that went to the wire. The A-team had the better of the first handful of ends, with Freeman's rink coming out of the traps to establish a 7-2 lead over Reeve's. They ultimately had the better of their head-to-head, but were left cursing a dropped 5 on the 12th, which gave the Cs a decisive lead overall.

That had been the second killer blow upon the As' heads. The first had come on the ninth end of the other game and a simply incredible seven-shot turnaround jack trail from captain Brown through the narrowest of angles. The As fought back to take it to the very last wood, with a shot to play the jack to the back of the rink just about on for Freeman, for a four to tie. However, a cleverly-placed short bowl from his opposing skip tripped him mere inches from the target.


Abington B vs Abington A

Allen Johnson, Trevor Aston, Graham Allen, Ollie Kirkwood 12-26 Alan Mann, Pat McAlwane, Chris Beck, Peter Milburn (capt.)
Adam Hawkings, Stan Breach, Dave Jones, Dave Fage (capt.) 8-12 Alan Coleman, Terry Brown, Tony O'Leary, John Freeman

Agg: 20-38

Abington C vs Roade

Adam Brown, Dave Vernon, Stuart Johnston, Jonathan Brown (capt.) 14-7 P Hagon
Colin Barnes, Rob Archer, Alan Dunkley, Phil Reeve 19-9 M Brown

Agg: 33-16

Abington A vs Abington C

Alan Coleman, Terry Brown, Tony O'Leary, John Freeman 15-14 Colin Barnes, Rob Archer, Alan Dunkley, Phil Reeve
Alan Mann, Pat McAlwane, Chris Beck, Peter Milburn (capt.) 14-18 Adam Brown, Dave Vernon, Stuart Johnston, Jonathan Brown (capt.)

Agg: 29-32