BOWLS - Ray Barnett claims White Hart Autumn League trophy - The Redditch Standard

BOWLS - Ray Barnett claims White Hart Autumn League trophy

RAY Barnett won this year’s White Hart Autumn League trophy in a dramatic final against Mike Estell last weekend.


Barnett, aged 78, secured a narrow 21-20 success against Estell, aged 79, as the two bowlers rolled back the years to produce a memorable final.


Earlier in the day – Barnett eased past club Chairman Kirk Wright 21-11 in the first semi-final before Estell defeated Neil Laxton 21-18 to set up a showdown with Barnett in the final.


Wright would go on to secure third place in the tournament with a thrilling 21-19 victory over Laxton before Barnett and Estell played out a fitting showpiece much to the delight of White Hart’s supporters.


And tournament organiser Wright insists the competition is here to stay having originally taken place due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.


Wright said: “I organised this tournament as an intended one off event last year because we had been starved of league bowling due to the pandemic, but it has proved so popular that we will now be including it annually in the White Hart club tournament calendar.”


Defending champion Wright stormed into a 7-1 lead against Barnett in their semi-final before delivery problems allowed Barnett back into the game.


Eventually, Wright went long with both of his bowls to hand Barnett an impressive 21-11 victory and a place in the final despite the damp conditions.


And Estell joined Barnett in the final after he raced into an early 10-2 lead against last year’s losing finalist Laxton who managed to reduce the deficit to 12-10.


The pair swapped shots over the next seven ends before Estell pulled clear to eventually win 21-18 after a valiant effort to save the match by Laxton.


And Laxton looked certain to take third place when he led Wright 19-14 only for the former champion to produce a stunning comeback and win 21-19 after bowling the jack on his favourite mark.


That left Barnett and Estell to save the best until last as the two experienced bowlers defied their age in a high-quality final.


The match was a close affair throughout – as the pair swapped shots end after end – before Barnett snatched a 20-19 lead whilst holding match bowl only for Estell to level with a game-saving bowl.


However, Estell delivered an unconvincing bowl with his next-end lead which allowed Barnett to get closer to the jack and – despite being more than a yard away – find the match winning bowl to secure the trophy.

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