Joan enjoys a successful week at ladies’ open tournament

Ladies open tournament winners.

Ladies open tournament winners. - Credit: Archant

Ashcombe bowler Joan McInally enjoyed a successful week at the Weston Ladies’ Open Bowls tournament by winning the singles championship.

ASHCOMBE player Joan McInally capped a very successful week by winning the singles championship for the first time in the 62nd Weston Ladies’ Open Bowls tournament, sponsored by local opticians Optika.

McInally ended the double hopes of Stoneleigh Ladies’ pairs winner Pat Bax (Rugby), beating her 21-19 in a tense final, Bax’s fourth match of a day during which she played around 80 ends of bowls almost continuously.

Bax took the early lead, then McInally settled and, after 19 ends, led 20-14, needing only one shot for victory. However, then Bax’s spectacular-looking Aero woods kept getting in and, at 20-19, both were on the brink of victory. It was McInally who took it, on end 23, to win the £150 first prize and Gaze Cup.

The tall, imposing Ashcombe player has had Johns Trophy trials for Somerset, but has never made the team. Perhaps the selectors will take note of this triumph.

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McInally also skipped clubmates Jill Wilkinson and Mavis Main to a great victory in the ladies’ triples. Very much the underdogs, they were inspired by some superb play from McInally as they beat Bath’s Johns Trophy trio Judith Staunton, Cate Ball and Jane Walmsley (a county selector) 16-5 in the final.

There was a hat-trick of titles for Ashcombe, because their 16-year-old county junior Fraser Ham won the mixed Australian pairs, partnered by Imogen Cracknell (St Andrews), who began her bowls at Ashcombe.

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The youngsters – Cracknell is just 13 and also a Somerset junior – stormed through their group, winning all three matches with a shot-difference of 33, which included a hot-shot eight.

Their final opponents were the vastly-experienced Barrie Forse (St Andrews) and Pat Bax, who was bidding to retain the title she won with Andy McMillan last year. Although it was soon 7-0 to the young duo, Forse and Bax battled back to trail 7-8 playing the last end. Forse put one right on the jack, Cracknell matched it and the measure went the youngsters’ way as they picked up the £120 first prize and Alpha Cup.

Pat Bax, who has been a regular winner of prizes at the tournament, had been hoping to take over from her pal Maureen Edwards as singles champion after Edwards had lost at the quarter-final stage to Victoria’s Ros Cleeves.

However, the Stoneleigh Ladies’ pairs title was some consolation for Bax, a Warwickshire Johns Trophy player, as she and Judy Forse (St Andrews) just edged home 18-16 against Val Peckham and Cynthia Burgess (West Backwell), the scores having been tied after 14 of the 16 ends.

Judy Forse was one of the most successful local players, also having won the mixed fours. Partnered by her husband Barrie, their St Andrews clubmate Andy McMillan and Clarence Ladies’ Pam Barnbrook, they were comfortable final winners over a quartet skipped by Wiltshire Middleton Cup player Nick Grenfell.

Ros Cleeves, a member of the winning Sunday triples team, and semi-finalist in the singles, won the Ron Swain Trophy for the North Somerset lady best non-winner in the singles.

Players from the host clubs to do well included: Pam Turner and Barbara Jones (Wessex), semi-finalists in the ladies’ pairs and – with Ann Fewings – ladies’ triples; Clarence husbands and wives Jo and Tony Mannion/Carol and Mick Edlin, who finished fourth in the mixed fours; and tournament registrar David Stott (Clarence), third in the mixed pairs with Pencoed’s Beryl Halligey.

Rain, which plagued the first few days of the tournament, relented later in the week. At the prize presentation, David Stott said that the future of the ladies’ tournament had been in doubt because of falling entry numbers, but these had picked up and it would definitely continue next year.

Results - ladies’ singles – semi-finals: P Bax (Rugby) 21, R Cleeves (Victoria) 12; J McInally (Ashcombe) 21, J Butler (Barbourne) 16. Final: McInally 21, Bax 19.

Stoneleigh Ladies’ pairs – semi-finals: J Forse (St Andrews)/P Bax (Rugby) 21, S Keal/D Bloxham (Snitterfield) 9; V Peckham/C Burgess (West Backwell) 20, P Turner/B Jones (Wessex) 6. Final: Forse/Bax 18, Peckham/Burgess 16.

Ladies’ triples - first-place final: M Main, J Wilkinson, J McInally (Ashcombe) 16, J Staunton, C Ball, J Walmsley (Bath) 5. Third-place final: M Edwards (Thornfield), P Bax (Rugby), P Barnbrook (Clarence) 10, P Turner, B Jones, A Fewings (Wessex) 9.

Mixed Australian pairs - First-place final: I Cracknell (St Andrews)/F Ham (Ashcombe) 9, P Bax (Rugby)/B Forse (St Andrews) 7. Third-place final: B Halligey (Pencoed)/D Stott (Clarence) 11, J McInally/M West (Ashcombe) 10.

Mixed fours - first-place final: P Barnbrook (Clarence), J Forse, A McMillan, B Forse (St Andrews) 17, D Harding (Clevedon), P Fowler (Clarence), C Grenfell (Box), N Grenfell (Spencer Moulton) 5. Third-place final: J Ratcliffe, J Ashmore, C Burgess, J Couch (West Backwell) 15, J Mannion, T Mannion, M Edlin, C Edlin (Clarence) 6.

Sunday triples – first-place final: R Cleeves (Victoria), B Rossiter, D Towie (Clarence) 6, R Wilkes, B Clarke, D Bennetts (Gloucester City) 3. Third-place final: R McMillan, A McMillan (St Andrews), M Edwards (Thornfield) 9, F Waters, P Leadbeater (Victoria), B Mumford (Bidford) 3.

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