(Dorset 10pts Devon 7pts)

IN A match producing yet another agonising last-end decider, it was Dorset Ladies who took the South West Counties Champion-ship for the third year in a row.

Dorset began the day two points behind the visitors – Devon.

In this final game of the group, the target for the championship was a win on three or more of the six rinks.

Mathematically a win on two rinks and a draw on a third would give Dorset a three-point (10-7) outcome and the title by a single point – and this narrowest of margins win, eventually proved to be the final outcome.

In another nail-biting finish for Dorset it was suggested by a supporter that the county’s ladies’ team should carry a government health warning!

After a sluggish start, Dorset eased into a 27-20 advantage after completing five ends – winning on three rinks and behind on three.

The lead extended to 56-45 with winning scores on four rinks suggesting that the current champions were comfortably on course for their hat-trick of championships.

With the overall score continuing to mount the number of winning rinks fell back to three at the 15 end points, and then just two at 18 ends.

Although 108-86 ahead and the match points assured, it was essential that a win or a draw on a third rink was achieved.

Frances Hewett, Pat Cornick, Janet Emerson and Val Farrant – skipping a South West Counties rink for the first time this season – stormed to blistering top-rink performance against Devon’s Carol Binmore to finish 30-13.

An equally impressive performance came from Margaret Hooper, June Searle, Lyn Howard and skip Jill Bryant who also hit the high-water 30-mark, winning 31-16 against the Devon skip Eileen Rich.

With her usual rink not available, Kath Desmond who has had a very successful season so far, was disappointed not to get a result.

The Dorset skip was ably supported by Val Baxter, Sandi Smith and Edna Cumberland and only trailed by four shots (16-12) with four ends remaining, but had to settle for well fought 22-15 loss against the Hillary Avent rink.

The remaining three rinks were in with a shout for a win, which would seal Devon’s fate, but two foursomes fell agonisingly short.

Sally Williams, Ann Chislett, Wendy Brown and skip Sue Dadson slipped from 11-4 up to go under against Mavis Wellington and co by just four shots (22-18).

An even closer result ensued on rink one where Jan Cherry, Sally Rowe, Linda Johnson and Joan Halliwell had a battle royale against Devon international Barbara Bellamy, coming from 11-2 down to drop a two on the final end when ahead and eventually losing 21-20.

All Dorset’s hopes now depended on Julie Hudson, Margaret Clapp, Isabelle Addison and Freda Yates who led Val Lander and co 14-12 with two ends to play.

A dropped three left Dorset facing the possibility of losing their title as they went into the final end 15-14 in arrears.

A single count then gave Dorset the necessary draw at 15-15.