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The week of 23rd to 27th June 2014 saw us making our eighth visit to Hayling Island.

Once again we were incredibly lucky with the weather, it was sunshine all the way until the very moment the final was over on Thursday afternoon, at which point the heavens opened!

Monday night's first pair of games saw the Masters/Wellington/Banthorp and Hume/Staines as the only teams win both matches.

Tuesday night's games would determine the top 4 for Wednesday's final session and with plenty of quality teams lagging behind there was still time for them to catch up.

But of course there is no danger of being caught up if you win all your games. And so it was that the Masters/Wellington/Banthorp team made it 4 wins out of 4 and since they were playing their closest opposition, they managed to take out at least one team who had been in contention.

They were the only team to win all their games. The next best were the Game/Drane/Tilbrook/Vaughan team who had been mid-table overnight with just one win and whose two wins on Tuesday had rocketed them up to second place.

The Gypps/Sainsbury team also had just 2 points overnight and might not have thought that a win a draw on Tuesday would be enough, but it was, as others fell away. And luckier still were the Humes/Staines team who only managed one point on Tuesday, but again that was enough to make it through to the last four.

The Hume/Staines team started well and with 2 ends to go were 5-3 ahead of the Masters/Wellington/Banthorp team. But four shots on the penultimate end saw the score swing in the opposite direction. However, having got in front the team who had won all their Round Robin games suffered a 3 shot loss on the last end and it was Hume/Staines who took the win.

The Gypps/Sainsbury team never had a look-in as the Game/Drane/Tilbrook/Vaughan raced away to an 8-1 lead after 4 ends. After that it was just a matter of managing the game and limiting any losses. By the end the result was back to 8-5, making it look more respectable.

Once again the Game/Drane/Tilbrook/Vaughan team took control fairly early on, although they were 2-1 down after 2 ends, it was only that second end which they lost.

They were ahead on the third end and crept away bit by bit. By the sixth end they were 9-2 in front and the Hume/Staines team had an impossible task on their hands.

With a tied last end the game finished 9-2, it was a convincing and well-deserved win for Ken Drane, Valerie Game, Shirley Tilbrook and Sylvia Vaughan.

This year saw a small change in format, with everyone getting 3 games a day instead on just 2. That would mean 9 round robin games, so plenty of time to recover from a slow start, and just as much time to muck up after a good one.

In any case with nearly half the field qualifying for Thursday afternoon's knockout stages the high fliers were going to be jockeying for position. The round robin games would serve as a method of seeding the teams a la Wimbledon, so the higher the finish the better.

Round 2 (Tuesday)
As might be expected, just under half the field won their first games (there was one drawn match), but only eight of those were able to repeat their success in Round 2. And just for the record they were Joyce Dodge & Sylvia Vaughan, Margaret & Jim Southgate, Colin Lord & Rita Daniels, Betty Johnson & Paul Daniels, Patricia & Harold Ball, Maxine Poulter & Chris Clark, David & Linda Williams and Valerie Game & Ken Drane.

Round 3 (Tuesday)
Tuesday's closing games showed that it was going to be quite a feat to get through the week's games undefeated, let alone taking a clean sweep.

Only 3 teams could make it 3 wins out of 3 and they were Valerie Game & Ken Drane, Maxine Poulter & Chris Clark and Colin Lord & Rita Daniels. Also undefeated, but having dropped a point each were Keith & Prim Hume and Betty Johnson & Paul Daniels.

Round 4 (Wednesday)
Maxine Poulter & Chris Clark and Valerie Game & Ken Drane both registered their fourth wins on Wednesday morning, but other than Keith & Prim Hume who had dropped just a single point, everyone else had lost at least once.

Anyone who finished the week with an average of more than one point per game was going to be in with a chance of qualifying, so the real interest would be down in the midfield, with 23 teams now on 4 points or better.

Round 5 (Wednesday)
Just crossing the halfway point of the round robin games and the top two still had their 100% records intact. However with Keith & Prim Hume having recorded their first loss, there was now a 2 point gap to the next best teams.

Sylvia Cox & Annette Iskett, Colin Lord & Rita Daniels and Margaret & Jim Southgate all had 8 points and were themselves a point better than anyone else.

Most importantly for Maxine & Chris and Val & Ken, up at the top, they had now broken the double figure points mark and as a result there was a good chance that they had already done enough to be playing on Thursday afternoon.

Round 6 (Wednesday)
As Wednesday came to a close so it was that everyone in one way or another made some kind of slip-up. Maxine & Chris lost and if it had not been for a miraculous 5 shot haul on the last end Ken & Val they would have suffered the same fate. As it was they scrambled a draw to at least stay unbeaten.

So Ken and Val stayed top but were now just a point ahead of Margaret & Jim Southgate, Max and Chris and Colin Lord & Rita Daniels. All four of these teams were on ten points or better.

Only 13 teams were doing better than a point a game so it was still looking like 10 points across 9 games would do the job.

Round 7 (Thursday)
And so on to the final morning session. Three more games to play and a lot to play for, and every chance that there would be a lot which would not be settled until the very end.

The leaders recorded their first loss which meant that Maxine Poulter & Chris Clark were back at the top, having taken their sixth win.

After them, 1 point behind, there was a pack of 6 teams, all on 11 points. And then 3 more teams who were on 10. In all that made 10 teams with 10 points or better, all of whom might have done enough, but none of whom who definitely had.

Round 8 (Thursday)
The penultimate round finally gave us the first teams to secure their top 16 spots.

Max and Chris stayed top with another win, taking them on to 14 points and confirming their qualification.

Joan Clark & Don Poulter, Sylvia Cox & Annette Iskett, Ken Drane & Valerie Game and Betty Johnson & Paul Daniels were through having moved on to 13 points. Colin Lord & Rita Daniels and Kay and Peter Masters were all through with 12 points.

The 9 remaining spots would be taken from the 12 teams that were left in contention.

Round 9 (Thursday)
With the final set of games completed top of the standings were the teams of Joan Clark & Don Poulter and Betty Johnson & Paul Daniels, both of whom finished on 15 points.

The final qualifiers were Keith & Prim Hume, Margaret & Jim Southgate, Patricia & Harold Ball, Barbara Head & Rosemary Coe, Preston & Jo Gypps, Robin & Heather Brown, David & Linda Williams, Peter & Doris Frost and Jane Evans & Mike Walker.

Knockout Round 1
There were comfortable wins for Betty Johnson & Paul Daniels over Peter & Doris Frost, Joan Clark & Don Poulter over Jane Evans & Mike Walker and Keith & Prim Hume over Barbara Head & Rosemary Coe.

Maxine Poulter & Chris Clark cruised home against David & Linda Williams, largely due to a six on the second end. Margaret & Jim Southgate came home 8-5 winners over Val Game & Ken Drane, after gaining a decent foothold halfway through the game.

Robin & Heather Brown came back from being three down with 2 ends to go, to beat Colin Lord & Rita Daniels 7-6 and it was a similar story as Peter & Kay Masters recovered to beat Preston & Jo Gypps 5-4 on the last end.

But the closest and most topsy-turvey game was between Patricia & Harold Ball and Sylvia Cox & Annette Iskett. The Balls looked good with 4 on the first end, but 3 ends later they were trailing 8-4. Three ends later, at the end of full time it was all even and an extra end was required, which, carrying their momentum through went to the Balls.

Quarter Finals
Joan Clark & Don Poulter took a comfortable win over Margaret & Jim Southgate. And Peter & Kay Masters and Maxine Poulter & Chris Clark both had 9-3 wins over Robin & Heather Brown and Keith & Prim Hume respectively.

Closest of the games was a mostly Bedfordshire affair between Betty Johnson & Paul Daniels and Patricia & Harold Ball. There was never much in it and it took two flukey wicks from the skip on each of the last two ends to rob Pat and Harold and send Betty and Paul through.

Semi Finals
After losing the first two ends Betty & Paul drew level with Maxine & Chris 2 ends later to make it 3-3. In a tightly fought game on a mat on which there was little draw on either hand, the most important thing was to get those early woods in and it was Maxine who was just edging Betty out. Her woods were the ones that counted as the game wound down. She and Chris took the next two ends, taking a 6-3 advantage into the final end. And while Betty & Paul won that end they were restricted to just the single shot, taking Maxine & Chris through.

Joan & Don were off to a slow start as Peter & Kay took 3 on the first end and were 4-2 up after 3 ends. But it was the fourth end which was the turning point and which in hindsight settled the game. Joan & Don took full advantage of some wayward bowls to take 5 shots and turn the game on it's head. They edged a further shot ahead to lead 8-4 with 2 ends to go. The next end saw Joan & Don holding the advantage and the jack pushed to the back of the mat we saw a great interchange between Peter and Don. It was an end on which the whole game would hinge and it went to Don, as did the final end as Joan & Don came home 10-4 winners.

The seedings from the Round Robin stages had proved to be fairly accurate as the final came down to a match between the wife/husband swapping quartet usually known as MADJAC.

The first and third seeded teams of Maxine Poulter & Chris Clark and Joan Clark & Don Poulter, would play one another. Four very good players, two evenly matched teams and one very good final in prospect.

The opening fray made it look like the game was going very much in one direction. Joan & Don took a single on the first end, two on the second and another single on the third. Nearly at the halfway point and a 4-0 lead. But the fightback wasn't far away. Three to Maxine & Chris had them back to within a shat, although Joan & Don won the next and were now 5-3 up with two ends to go.

Not all over yet, and so it proved. Maxine & Chris took a single to bring the gap down to just one and then the epic last end.

This one swung back and forth, match winning advantages were held at one time or another by both sides, blocks were tried and gaps were found. Some great shots on both sides had the win going first one way then the next.

With the final wood to be played it looked as if Maxine & Chris had it, but somehow Don found a way in to move the jack just enough to reduce the count against to just one, tying the game and sending it into an extra end, and fittingly so.

This time the advantage went with Maxine and Chris and despite the best efforts of their respective spouses they couldn't get it back.

Maxine & Chris took the win, denying Joan & Don a repeat of their 2012 win. A terrific end to the week and a fittingly close affair from the two best teams of the week.

You can find all the week's results here.

Our final note is one of thanks to all who helped us to add another £176 to our tally of funds raised for the East Anglia Air Ambulance.

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27th June 2014