KIRK WRIGHT was all smiles after an impressive triumph on White Hart Bowling Club’s Autumn League Finals day.
Held on a fine sunny morning the day before the four-week national lockdown began, it was the finale to a good tournament which had been staged over the previous six weeks and featured 16 members.
Two groups of eight were played out to provide four semi finalists – the winner and runner-up of both sections.
Neil Laxton had won Group A by a single point from Mike Estell who just pipped Tom Hawkes to a semi-final place.
Group B was won by Wright by one point from Ray Richards who, with two final group wins, edged out Tim Hollingshead for second place.
All four semi-finalists had won titles during White Hart’s 2020 tournament programme.
Estell had won the Club Championship and the Summer Handicap, Richards’ success came in the Summer League after finishing runner-up in those two events, Laxton had taken the Tony Sugden Handicap and Wright (along with John Meredith) had won the Needles Doubles in September.
Therefore, it was no surprise both semi finals provided close and well-fought matches.
Laxton and Richards swapped single shots over the first four ends but at 4-4 it was the latter who took the next seven shots and it was only when he was 16-9 down that Laxton began to claw back the deficit.
Laxton then took ten of the next 12 winning shots to lead 19-18 before Richards took two from the 32nd end, but he could not find a winning bowl afterwards and Laxton took full advantage to edge the match 21-20.
Wright and Estell also swapped early leads in their semi-final before Wright went 11-7 ahead at the halfway stage.
Estell then found some good lead bowls to take 11 of the next 13 shots and an 18-13 advantage.
Wright also improved on his leads and follow-up bowls to get back into the match and level at 19-19. His deliveries in the 27th end of the match were beatable but Estell’s shots were both well short of the jack and Wright took the game 21-19.
In the final it was Laxton who won seven of the first nine ends to take an 8-3 lead, before Wright found better accuracy to win six ends in a row at one stage to stride into a 16-11 advantage.
Laxton then took three shots but Wright bounced back to take the next three to lead 19-14.
He then put two bowls very close to the jack, tempting Laxton to fire his second bowl at them. Laxton had shown accuracy when firing in previous matches, but was narrowly wide of the mark this time and Wright took the title 21-14 in the 24th end.