A GOOD DAY FOR RBBG AT GRAVESHAM 2018

We all arrived in good time on what would clearly be a blisteringly hot day to find the green in really good condition. Credit to the greenkeeper, it looked good, and it proved very fast!
Geoff was a little unfortunate, firstly to be drawn against John, who went on to the final, and secondly to play half his second match – leading 9-3, as it happens – when the match was stopped and declared void as the two people on the green should not have been playing each other! Geoff took it all very calmly but when he returned against the right player he was unable to make such a good start; he made a good comeback but lost by just two shots.

Our other four representatives all won their opening matches to make up four of the eight quarter finalists. Alison, on her debut, had beaten Richard, a previous cup winner who went on to win the afternoon’s Plate competition. Never behind in the match, she conceded three shots in the penultimate end to enable Richard to square the match. Alison has competitive experience in other sports - she held her nerve and took shot with her second wood in the extra end. Richard could not pull back this time and Alison went on to play John, the eventual finalist. There was never much between them but a single shot to John in the penultimate end gave him the lead at 8-6. In the final end Alison was holding one shot but a lack of familiarity with matchplay saw her hold back her final wood rather than risk disturbing her shot wood. She needed to go for it, and just another three inches would have been enough. No matter, a great start to tournament play.

Hans won the Cup a couple of years back, and his experience served him well in his first match. Trailing Alex as he played the last end, he took the shots to win 12-11. He then took control of his quarter final against Christine , leading 10-5 after seven ends, but he then lost his length a little and Christine came right back to take the lead for the first time at 12-11 in the penultimate end. Hans needed shot to tie, and held two to win outright as Christine played her last wood, and took shot. Hans knew he could still take the match if he moved that wood far enough, but trying for the extra weight he lost the line he needed – but yet another great, tight match that went to the wire.

Penny has to be counted unlucky Her first round was a tight match against Betty from Bexley, with Betty taking a shot in the first end, but Penny took two in the second and held the lead until Betty tied the match at 7-7 in the tenth end. .Betty set a long jack and held three until Penny’s last wood took second and she was just one down. Penny almost won it in the final regulation end as she held one to tie the match but her final wood, perfect line and length, promoted Betty into second instead, so a sudden death end, which Penny took 3-0. A thrilling match, taking her into a quarter final with Maurice, just as last year she played Marian at this stage and lost.

We talk of tight matches but this one saw just one shot taken in every end as the score moved to 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, then 5-5 after ten ends, two to go. Penny held shot in the eleventh and her final wood, the final wood of the end, was again on line and length, until she caught her own short wood side on, so deviating but not promoting her earlier wood. So just one shot, again, instead of two. Maurice needed a shot to go into the extra end, he held it and with the final wood of the match he took second as well, the first time a margin of more than one wood, and enough to go through to the semi final by 7-6.

We know nothing of Maurice’s first match, against James of Enfield, a very good player with whom Marian, especially, has had a few tussles over the years. Maurice won, that is fact, but he has no idea of the score and none was recorded on the organiser’s sheets! But we do know about the later matches, where it was left to Maurice to carry the RBBG flag and his next step was against Alf in the semi-final. And at 7-1 after five ends he was well on top, but Alf chipped back to 7-6 before Maurice scored again, taking three shots in the ninth to, we thought, regain clear control. But Alf, a previous winner, was not done and in the final regulation end he squared the match at 10-10. Another match needing an extra end, which Maurice took to go through to the final.

John had beaten two of our players and took two shots in the first end.. Maurice took two in the second to level at 2-32, then all three, on a measure in the third to lead 5-2. The next eight ends were another tight sequence of single shot wins, and although Maurice had the better of the scoring, there were several ends where one or other saved shots with a good final wood. At 10-5 with eleven of the fourteen ends final played, Maurice was in a strong position. End twelve was impressive, all six woods within a yard of the jack. Maurice held two shots, both within a foot, with John’s second failing by a fraction to run the jack away as he finished two and a half feet past. Maurice added a third, eighteen in front of the jack, and John’s final wood of the end was good, but could only nudge Maurice closer to the jack. With three shots to 13-5 up, and only two ends to be played, Maurice could not be caught and he had regained the Gravesham Cup for RBBG, their third win in six years.

Credit to Penny, Alison, Hans and Geoff who narrowly missed out on making their semi-finals, to Maurice for his splendid victory, and huge thanks to Geoff Dutton and a very big team – the greenkeeper, the markers, and those running the kitchen and bar to enable very necessary liquid refreshment throughout a brutally hot day. A well-run operation –years of practice! – to give a great day to all the bowlers.