Towe The Line – December Preview

BDO Inter County Championships Premier Division:

Cornwall v Warwickshire

Not since the 2012-2013 season has Warwickshire County Darts Organisation lost the opening two fixtures in the Premier Division of the BDO Inter County Championships and in that season they actually lost the first three to Yorkshire, Oxfordshire and Cheshire, they then went on to finish sixth in the table with three wins from their final six games.

After the opening day defeat to Yorkshire, Warwickshire’s next encounter saw them take a trip down to St Austell where they took on the local county, Cornwall. The Ladies ‘B’ side got off to a great start as Chloe McKivett gave them a 3-2 win in the first game against Hayley Kellow and taking the score to 2-0 was Kat Spanswick who won 3-1 against Pauline Mead.

Cornwall got their first win in the third when Becky Curnow beat Helen Rigg 3-1 but a 3-2 win from Nina Bolt guaranteed Warwickshire at the worst a share of the points. Nina after going 1-0 up then trailed 2-1 to Tyrian Jesse but went on to seal her win with wins in the fourth and fifth legs.

The home side’s award winner Catherine Rashleigh was their second winner as in the penultimate game she won 3-2 against Marian Conway after Conway had gone 1-0 and 2-1 up.

The outcome now rested on the final game between Courtney Hancock and Melanie Jones which went the full five legs distance. Despite leads of 1-0 and 2-1 Jones was pegged back to level terms on both occasions, however with her opponent still requiring 77 she checked out on 80 to clinch her 3-2 win and give her teammates their first win of the season, 4-2.

The men’s ‘B’ were hoping to put the 11-1 crushing defeat by Yorkshire behind them but it was not to be as for the second fixture they lost 11-1, yet again with more than a sprinkling of missed doubles.

The home side had a clean sweep in the first half all begun by Kev Thompson who came from 1-0 and 2-1 down to Wayne Mynard to win 4-2. Rich Slater made it 2-0 with his 4-3 win over Mark Carter, Slater going 3-0 up then being pegged back to three each before winning the deciding leg. Two 4-0 win in a row from Neil Dudbridge and Jonny Westren over respective opponents Tom McGlone and James Hykin took Cornwall’s lead to 4-0 before another seven legs affair in which Richard Craddock (Cornwall) went 2-0 up against Tom Ryan then Ryan reduced the arrears in the third before Craddock made it 3-1 in the fourth. Ryan then won the following two legs to square the game at 3-3 but it was those finishing doubles that saw Craddock win the seventh and final leg for a very close 4-3 victory.

It was 6-0 at the midway point with Shaun Burden adding his 4-1 win over Tom Martin.

Gareth Braham looked to be on his way to securing Warwickshire’s first win as he opened up a 2-0 lead over Carl Jeffery but despite having attempts at doubles in the next four legs he went down 4-2. Jack Wareing (Warwickshire) began well taking a 1-0 lead with a 114 game shot against Martin Smith and although Smith levelled in the second it was Wareing with another fine 121 finish who went 2-1 up. Smith won the next two legs and with a win for Wareing in the sixth it was another one leg decider which once again went to the Cornwall player.

Man of the match against Yorkshire Karl Reynolds was on at number nine, he won the first leg against David Mills in 18 darts. Mills then reversed the lead with wins in the following two legs only to see Reynolds level in the fourth. The fifth leg could have gone to either player as they both struggled on their doubles but it was Cornwall’s Mills that won it and with a win in the sixth he secured his 4-2 win.

Chris Eustice (Cornwall) won the opening leg against Carl Green only to see Green then go 2-1 up. Winning legs of 17 and 18 darts restored the lead for Eustice and although Green took him to a decider it was the home player that got the 4-3 verdict.

Dave Hill was on for Warwickshire in the penultimate game playing against Andy Dunstan. Hill won the first in 21 darts and Dunstan the second in 25. Hill then romped to a 4-1 victory with winning legs of 20,22 and 20 darts to give him the team’s match award for his average of 23.11.

The final 11-1 result was rounded off with a 4-2 win for Joshua Symons as he beat Warwickshire’s Mark Strong 4-2, Strong winning the second and fifth legs.

Natalie Gilbert (Warwickshire) followed up her opening day lady of the match performance with a 3-1 win over Tracey Hancock in the opening game of the of the ladies ‘A’ match, however the visitors lead didn’t last long as Sarah Gill beat, Donna Pinch 3-0 and Teresa Brookshaw won 3-1 against Caroline Pike.

Parity was restored in the fourth when Sue Gulliver, not only won 3-1 against Sue Shepherd but in the process took the match award for her average of 20.96 in which she had winning legs of 18,26 and 30 darts.

The hosts went ahead again in the fifth when Nikki Furse won 3-1 against Wendy Adams and with a final 3-0 win for Jacqui Champion over Angela Jones Cornwall sealed a 4-2 win.

There was a cracking start for Warwickshire’s men’s ‘A’ side as Jamie Hughes kicked off with a man of the match performance against Dennis Bryant, although Jamie didn’t have it all his own way as he lost the first leg then went 2-1 up in 18 and 16 darts. He lost the fourth in 15 darts but then levelled with a superb 12 darts leg hitting 99,177,140 and finishing on 85 to go 3-2 up. The sixth leg went to Bryant in 16 darts but it was Hughes with a 15 darts deciding leg in which he checked out on 100 leaving his opponent way back on 173 that won the game 4-3. Jamie’s average a tremendous 30.33.

Kevin Dowling despite going 1-0 and 2-1 down to Gareth Griffiths went on to win the tie 4-2 with a 116 game shot in the second giving the away team a 2-0 lead.

Neil Meneer reduced the arrears for the home team as he beat Charlie Symons 4-2 and with a similar 4-2 win for Mike Jones over Antony Allen the score was level at two each.

Noel Grant was pegged back to level terms twice after leading 2-0 and 3-2 against Kevin Bray and although both players had throws at a finishing double in the decider it was Grant who got the all-important double for a 4-3 win.

As the game went into the break the running score was squared at 3-3 with Kevin Dunstan adding his 4-1 win over Dave Atkins to Cornwall’s tally.

As did the first the second half began well for Warwickshire and it was another Jamie who began the half, this time Jamie Atkins who handed out a straight 4-0 defeat to Mike Beard, then with a second in a row 4-0 result Steve Giddings accounted for Greg Hambly to give Warwickshire a 5-3 lead.

Simon Knowles (Cornwall) saw Steve Hine peg him back twice to level terms before he went on to win 4-2 and with a 4-1 win for Jez Campe over Colin Laffar the home side had levelled the game at 5-5.

Rob Comben looked all set to put the win beyond Cornwall’s reach when he opened up a 2-0 lead over Matt Knowles but he then had to win the fourth leg to get back on level terms and despite having chances in the last two legs it was Knowles who won the tie 4-3 to leave the result hinging on the final game of the weekend.

Anchorman for Warwickshire was Dean Stewart and for Cornwall Steven Thomas. Nerves got the better of both players in the first leg but it was Stewart who won it in 23 darts. Thomas won the second in 19 darts only to see Dean Stewart go ahead again in the third when he checked out in 18 darts. For a second time, Thomas drew level, this time in 16 darts but he was unable to reach a double in the next two legs as Dean Stewart wrapped up a 4-2 win in 15 and 20 darts to put the final score at 6-6.

The men’s draw took the overall result to 23-13 to Cornwall, Warwickshire’s second successive such defeat.


Warwickshire v Devon

Following their two 23-13 defeats to Yorkshire and Cornwall, Warwickshire’s third fixture was a home tie against newly promoted Devon. Saturday’s ladies ‘B’ game began with a win for the home team’s Courtney Hine as she won 3-1 against Sarah Brown. The lead didn’t last long as Hayley Brant and Tracy Ware, in turn, won 3-0 against Denise Keyte and Nina Bolt to give Devon a 2-1 lead.

The away team’s advantage was taken to 3-1 when Cat Callard beat Kat Spanswick 3-1, their win confirmed in the fifth when Michelle Andrews defeated Melanie Jones 3-0 the third such win for the visitors.

For the home team, it was a case of keeping the best till last as Chloe McKivett went 1-0 up against Anna Johnson then trailed 2-1, she then went on to win 3-2 and in the process earn the match award for her 18.04 average. The final score 4-2 to Devon

The men’s ‘B’ were hoping to put behind them their previous two 11-1 defeats and first on for them was Tom Martin. Martin lost the first leg to Neil White and then in 15 and 25 darts went 2-1 up. White came back with winning legs of 19 and 21 darts and although Martin levelled the game in the sixth in 17 darts it was Neil White who put Devon one up with a deciding 15 darts leg.

Carl Green (Warwickshire) was made to fight all the way for his 4-3 victory as he opened up a 2-0 lead over Anthony Moss, was then pegged back to 2-2, went 3-2 up, 3-3 and won the final leg in 18 darts to square the game.

Mark Carter lost his opener to Adrian Watts but won the next four legs to put Warwickshire in front for the first time in the game. Carter’s leveller in the second was a 17 darts leg, he then won the next three in 18,20 and 16 darts giving him an award-winning average of 28.94. Rob Comben trailed 1-0 and 2-1 to Daniel Belsten but went on to win 4-3 sealing his win with a tremendous 161 game shot in a 15 darts decider to extend the home team’s lead.

Matty Washbrooke handed out a straight 4-0 defeat to Dean Angel before James Hykin took the hosts to lead to 5-1 at the break when he came from two down to beat David Matthews 4-2.

As the second half got underway Dave Hill took the home team’s lead to 6-1, assuring them of at least a draw when he handed out a 4-0 whitewash to Danny Bull.

Devon got their second winner in the eighth game when Steve Colbourne came from 1-0 down against Karl Reynolds to win 4-1, but then it was back to winning ways for the home side as Mark Strong after losing the first and fourth legs to Phillip Ward won the tie 4-2 and guaranteed a first win for his team, then with a similar result to Strong, Wayne Mynard had a 4-2 win over Fred Goldsmith to make it 8-2.

Tommy Ryan lost the first leg to Kieran Burns but then went 3-1 up in 19,15 and 21 darts, unfortunately, he then went down 4-3 after missing out on his finishing doubles.

The final score was taken to 9-3 for Warwickshire as anchorman Gareth Braham accounted for Scott Hutchinson with a straight 4-0 result.

There was somewhat of a surprise in the opening game of the ladies ‘A’ as opener Natalie Gilbert after going 2-0 up against Maria O’Brien lost 3-2, a rare defeat for Natalie especially after such a commanding lead.

Caroline Pike had her lead reversed as she went one up then trailed 2-1 to Kelly-Marie Gabriel. Nevertheless, Caroline with a superb 138 outshot squared the game and then went on to win it 3-2.

Warwickshire went ahead for the first time after game number three as Angela Jones won 3-1 against Chrissie Kinnaird and with a similar result for Sue Gulliver over Karen Matthews the hosts were 3-1 up, Sue for the second consecutive fixture named the lady of the match with a 21.47 average.

The win was achieved in the penultimate encounter when Wendy Adams beat Jodie Hawton 3-1 and the final score was taken to 4-2 when Lisa Hughes won the final game for Devon as she beat Donna Pinch 3-0.

In the opening two fixtures Warwickshire’s men’s ‘A’ have been the most consistent with one win and one draw, they got their game against Devon off to a fine start as Jamie Atkins and Antony Allen in turn both won 4-1 against John Burton and Lewis Dare.

Glyn Wells was Devon’s first winner when he won 4-1 against Dean Stewart but with Nigel Heydon coming from 1-0 down against Mark Shears to win 4-1 Warwickshire’s two games advantage was restored.

By the halfway point of the match a 4-2 success for Ian Shaw over Lee Hellings and a 4-3 win for Tom Aldridge over Mark Turner gave the home side a somewhat comfortable 5-1 lead.

Mark Vellacott (Devon) had his lead cancelled out no fewer than three times by Ian McFarlane who with two superb finishing legs of 14 and 12 darts won the tie 4-3. McFarlane rounded off his fantastic win with scores of 140,140 and 122 and then wrapped up the leg and the game with a 99 checkout.

With the score standing at 6-1 to the home team the win was put up in style as Prakash Jiwa despite having his lead wiped out three times by John Mann went on to not only win the tie 4-3, put the result at 7-1 and beyond Devon’s reach but also won the man of the match award for his 29.78 average.

The score moved nicely along to 8-1 with a 4-0 win from Noel Grant over Mike Pearce and although Steve Giddings had his 3-0 lead wiped out by Thom Humphrey he won the tie 4-3.

In the penultimate game, Steve Hine made it 10-1 when he beat Ben Chamberlain 4-2, then in the last game of the day and weekend, Kevin Dowling came from 1-0 down against Paul Milford to lead 3-1 and then lost 4-3to give a final score of 10-2 to Warwickshire.

The overall score for the weekend was a 25-11 win for Warwickshire which saw them move off the foot of the table into a more relaxing sixth place in the table.

Alan Towe contributes to Darts World Magazine, and at Red Dragon Darts.