FOR Dorchester’s 27-year-old Martin Puckett, the final event in the England Indoor Bowling Association programme, before the nationwide closedown, was a memorable occasion.

As a member of the England Senior Indoor Bowls team playing in the 76th Home International Series, he was a member of the rink skipped by Greg Harlow, with Mervyn King as lead and Mark Dawes at three. Puckett played at number two.

Over the years, the Hilton Trophy has been dominated by England, who had won on 39 occasions, ahead of arch-rivals Scotland with 32 wins, Wales trailing with just four, and Ireland yet to record victory.

England were out to make it number 40 in the tournament played at Llanelli Indoor Bowls Club.

They opened their programme against hosts Wales and, in a keen tussle with their top skip Jason Greenslade, Harlow and company were shaded 18-16 when Greenslade collected singles on the final two ends.

With the other five rinks winning, England posted a resounding 140-87 result to set the pace in the defence of their title, with Puckett giving a sound personal performance.

In a second-round encounter with Ireland, it was Harlow and company that proved to be the anchor rink, storming home to win 28-9.

Other England skips results in a 124-93 victory saw Nicky Brett win 20-16, Sam Tolchard 17-15, Jamie Chestney lost 21-17, Robert Paxton came home 21-11 and Jamie Walker secured a 21-21 draw.

With Scotland beating Wales 143-88 and Ireland 121-106, the final rubber was yet another showdown with the auld enemy England.

“This is the game we really look forward to,” said Puckett, “as the result usually decides the series winner.”

In an expected gritty battle, England were headed when Paxton went down 20-15, Brett lost narrowly 21-19 and Chestney scrambled a 16-16 draw.

Tolchard countered by winning 25-17 and the cause was further helped when Walker got home 26-21.

Harlow’s rink also got the better of their Scottish opponents and, thanks to a couple of five counts en route, ended 22-16 ahead, with Puckett again playing an influential role.

England were again able to repel the rugged Scots in a 123-111 outcome, which allowed them to retain the Hilton Trophy, making it six successive wins.

Wales finished third and Ireland again finished at the foot of the table.

For Puckett, it was his sixth Home International Series appearance and he has yet to be on a losing England side.

To cap the occasion, Puckett was chosen by team manager Andy Thomson as the England Player of the Series.


t: 01305 830955

e: sport

twitter: @Dorsetechosport