Suffolk assert their authority and look favourites to retain their titles
Suffolk won the English Bowling Federation two most prestigious outdoor county titles in 2018 - the Adams and Newton Trophies for first and second string outfits - and, after Saturday's displays against Northants, look determined to retain them.
They picked up all but three of the 22 points available in the Adams clash at Blackstones' well-manicured green in Stamford and conceded only one point in the Newton clash at City of Peterborough.
In the early stages at Blackstones, Northants - featuring players who compete in the Stamford and Peterborough Leagues - were only 11 shots adrift after five ends and pulled back the deficit to just nine with 10 of the 31 ends played.
But, by the 20-end stage, the visitors began to assert their authority and stretched their lead to 122-93.
Typical of the Suffolk resurgence was the shortened jacks demanded by Marcus Payne's rink which overturned an 8-16 deficit against Paul Buckley into a 25-17 lead before the Northants rink switched positions, as the rules allow.
Stretching the jack length, they scored 11 shots in five ends to take a two-shot lead into the final end only to have to share the points and 60 shots!
On the adjoining rink Steve Roden, Tom Fielding and Lee Welsford played positively against Mark Cole to stroll into a 27-8 lead and finally triumph 28-18.
Elsewhere Brian Martin, Stephen Harris and Martyn Dolby held a 16-8 lead against the experienced Dave Cattermole but conceded 15 shots in the later stages, losing 24-32.
Adam Warrington won the last five ends but still went down 20-32, while against Rob Felgate, Martin Welsford lost 21-36.
Northants captain Jon Earl also tried every combination of position before losing 23-32 to Colin Chick.
The match was attended by EBF National President Mick Rayson, a native of Easton-on-the Hill, who now lives Sawtry and is chairman of the Hunts Federation and a qualified bowls umpire.
In the Newton match, a blend of youth and experience proved vital for Suffolk, who pulled away in the last eight ends with a burst of heavy scoring to run out winners by 50 shots.
Only the rinks of Richard Allam, Martin Stokes and Malcolm Squires emerged with a point, sharing 52 shots over 31 ends.
On Saturday, Northants' Adams team are at Burton House, Boston against Lincs, while the Newton team play at Grantham Bowls Club.
Result (Northants names only): Adams Trophy (at Blackstones) - Northants 146 (3pts) Suffolk 180 (19): Trevor Smith, Ally McNaughton, Jon Earl lost 23-32; John Holroyd, Graham Agger, Martin Welsford lost 21-36; Bob Warters, Mick Humphreys, Paul Buckley drew 30-30; Steve Roden, Tom Fielding, Lee Welsford won 28-18; Brian Martin,Stephen Harris,Martyn Dolby lost 24-32; Howard Shipp, Paul Bailey, Adam Warrington lost 20-32.
Newton Trophy (at City of Peterborough BC) - Northants 135 (1) Suffolk 185 (21): Les Sharp, Mick Greaves and Alec Emery lost 25-28; Andy Dyer, Tony Kemp and Brian Bassam lost 18-32; Dave Roberts, Mick Linnell and Cliff Watson lost 23-36; Richard Allam, Martin Stokes and Malcolm Squires drew 26-26; Jeff Clipston, Peter Jessup and F.Richardson lost 27-29; Dave Corney, Zac Brown and DickNoble lost 16-34.