Victoria well represented in open tournament finals

Mens singles winner.

Mens singles winner. - Credit: Archant

Victoria Bowls Club members got through to all four of the main finals of the 95th Weston Men’s Open Bowls Tournament.

Players from local club Victoria got through to all four of the main finals in the 95th Weston Men’s Open Bowls Tournament, sponsored by Optika, but finished with only one title.

That was the triples championship, in which Pete Wyatt, Tony Bray and Paul Leadbeater, beat clubmates Paul Coumis, Colin Gazzard and Mike Cooper by one shot, having trailed for much of a high-quality match.

Barring the way to possible success for Victoria in two other finals was the diminutive figure of Adie Burbridge, who was attempting to win the singles for a record ninth time and also to retain the men’s pairs title.

He succeeded in both. Firstly, he and Mike Ricketts (Ledbury), the 2015 champions, disposed of Victoria’s Colin Gazzard and Mike Cooper by 30 shots to 12 in a repeat of last year’s men’s pairs final. They never looked like losing, having scored two fives in the first four ends. Ricketts has now won the pairs three times.

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Then the perky Burbridge and energetic Gazzard did battle in the singles final. It was close to start with, but a hat-trick of successive threes put the champion in the driving seat and he won eventually by 10 shots. In doing so, he avenged the defeat of his son Gareth by Gazzard in the 2014 singles final.

Although Burbridge, now aged 66, plays very little bowls these days because of dodgy knees, he can always switch on top form at Weston. Before going home to Droitwich, he promised to defend his titles next year.

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The mixed pairs title went over the bridge to Wales for the second year running, with Philip and Mary Brown, from Llanbradach, Caerphilly, repeating the victory they achieved in their maiden visit to the tournament last year.

Philip, a former Welsh international, and his wife, both skips for their club, were given their hardest game in the semi-final by locals Audrey Powell and Barrie Forse, from St Andrews. However, they squeezed through by one shot to meet Victoria duo Annie Holland and Lee Stocker in the final.

With Holland leading very well, the Welsh duo were up against it early on, but Philip’s skill with weight helped earn them a four on the 10th end to put them 13-10 ahead and they ran out winners by nine shots.

Remarkably, Victoria players filled 14 of the semi-final spots in the four main events, a tribute to their current strength as a club. Even the Vic’s Belinda Cardwell, a bowler for only a few weeks, won a prize, for third place in the Gala Fours.

That event was a fillip for hosts Clarence, as the scratch team of club captain Mick Edlin, Chris Tippett, a limping John Atkins and skip Roger Burrough won the final. The runners-up, mainly from Warwickshire, included Verlie Edwards, from Clarence-based Wessex.

Results - singles final: A Burbridge (St Dunstan’s, Worcester) 21, C Gazzard (Victoria, Weston) 11. Losing semi-finalists: J Ashmore (Portishead RBL), B Lindon (Barbourne, Worcester).

Men’s pairs final: A Burbridge (St Dunstan’s, Worcester)/M Ricketts (Ledbury) 30, C Gazzard/M Cooper (Victoria, Weston) 12. Losing semi-finalists: T Bray/W Harrison (Victoria, Weston), N Sell/G Webber (St Andrews, Weston).

Mixed pairs final: P & M Brown (Llanbradach, Caerphilly) 23, A Holland/L Stocker (Victoria, Weston) 14. Losing semi-finalists: A Powell/B Forse (St Andrews, Weston), M & C Edlin (Clarence).

Triples final: P Wyatt, T Bray, P Leadbeater (Victoria, Weston) 13, P Coumis, A Yates/C Gazzard, M Cooper (Victoria, Weston) 12. Losing semi-finalists: T Mangan (Olveston), B Forse (St Andrews, Weston), S Davies (Victoria, Weston) and M Ricketts (Ledbury), E Payne (Isle of Wedmore), P Smith (Llanbradach, Caerphilly)/A Burbridge (St Dunstan’s, Worcester).

Gala fours final: M Edlin/A Cord, C Tippett, J Atkins, R Burrough (Clarence) 22, R & C Povey (Kineton, Warwicks), T Farmer (Avenue Leamington Spa), V Edwards (Wessex, Weston) 14. Third-place final: M Campbell/A Yates, B Cardwell, R Bromet, D Fairhurst (Victoria, Weston) 31, R Francombe, C Hooper, S Searle, V Jones (Clarence Ladies) 10.

Sunday mixed triples – winners: L Stocker, A Yates, M Stocker (Victoria, Weston); runners-up R Akhurst (Southampton), G Barlow, R Crawford (Clarence); 3, L & R Smith, D Johnston (Banwell); 4, P Wyatt, D Fairhurst, P Leadbeater (Victoria, Weston).

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