Inter-County Bowls Challenge Trophy
DORSET 42 DEVON 38
DORSET Under-25s gained a memorable victory in the first round of the Inter-County Challenge Trophy against reigning champions Devon.
Both Dorset fours got off to flyers, with the home rink of Marcus Smith (Moonfleet), Chris Cook (Moonfleet), Ryan Stone (Wellworthy) and skip Martin Puckett (Moonfleet) taking command of the early exchanges with Dom Tuckett, Matt Bass, and the international double-header back-end combina-tion of Louis Rideout and Sammy Tolchard.
The hosts scored on each of the opening five ends and posted an early 8-0 lead, which was matched by the travelling Dorset and all-Dorchester quartet of Robbie Ward, George Spracklen, Dean Curtis and skip Nick Voss, who kept a clean sheet with a 7-0 opening four-end tally.
At Moonfleet, Dorset continued to take the game to their illustrious opponents, with all four players taking turns to deliver telling bowls.
Puckett in particular produced some bowls of international quality, which augers well for his forthcoming trial for the full England team, and he was constantly thwarting the efforts of the Devon rink to get back into the game.
The opposition continued to battle, but with just three ends to go Dorset held what appeared to be a match-winning lead of 22-12.
But drama was to be played out over the final crucial ends as the visitors collected consecutive scores of three and then a five to go just two shots behind at 22-20. With the away leg at Exmouth also close, Puckett and co were hoping to stem the onrush of the Devon comeback but finally had to concede a further two shots on the final end, for Devon to force an unexpected draw.
Voss and co had also seen their early lead disappear at Exmouth as Devon chipped away at the 7-0 deficit to good effect and eventually took the lead for the first time at 11-10.
The game then became a struggle for supremacy as Dorset strained to stay in touch. To their credit, they traded shot for shot and also reached a level position at 16-16 with just two of their ends remaining.
The home leg had finished and the aggregate score was tied at 38-38, so it was all down to the county town quartet to bring home the proverbial bacon and cause a big upset. Dorset gained a two-shot advantage on the penultimate end and when holding shots on the final end the Devon skip killed the end and forced a replay.
Amid great tension – at both venues – news finally came through that Dorset had collected another two shots to dump the champions out of the competition.
The Voss rink returned to the county town 20-16 winners, having successfully complimented the all-round home performance of the Puckett rink, which held such reputable bowlers at bay.
Dorset now move into the second round where they will face Somerset on November 4.