SWAN Studley Skittles League representative team Renegades produced a superb recovery to qualify for the British Skittles Championships.
Renegades had won only one of their first three group games – all at home – to put at risk their chances of progressing to the finals of the 2019 event in Torquay.
With the top two teams qualifying from four teams, it meant Renegades needed to win at least two of their three away games and even then they were reliant on results elsewhere.
First up was the trip to Gloucester to play Matson Wolfhounds. The first leg was halved before Renegades took a four-pin lead after the second leg which they extended to 15 with two legs to play.
Matson’s Ryan Smith’s 13-stack in the penultimate leg threatened to get his team back in the game but Renegades rose to the challenge with good bowling to maintain the 15-pin advantage.
Although Renegades’ last leg score was poor, it would have been much worse but for an 11-stack from Craig Sears. However, it was enough to win the game after a brief scare when Matson’s Mark Dix set up the chance of a big score by taking all nine pins with his first two balls.
However, he managed only one more from the restacked pins and Maston’s hopes of winning both the game and reaching the finals evaporated.
Top-scoring for Renegades were Mark Ganderton with 49 pins and Tim Jones and Glyn Morley with 42 each. Best for Matson, also with 42 pins, were Dan Herd, Joe Stokes, and Mark Dix.
In the next game against Spitfires of Coventry, both teams knew defeat could be catastrophic as each had to still play their final games against odds-on group favourites Raspberry Ripples in Worcester.
In a tense game, Spitfires won each of the first two legs to hold a narrow three-pin lead. Renegades, though, won the next two legs, thanks largely to a 15-stack by Alan Cummings to hold an overall lead of just a single pin.
Renegades then stretched their lead to five pins after the penultimate leg before also taking leg six for a nine-pin winning margin. Alan Cummings top-scored for Renegades with 56 pins and Mac Eaton made 49.
Spitfires’ best were James Salmon and Chris Gentry with 52 and 47 respectively.
Against Raspberry Ripples, Renegades took a first leg four-pin lead, only for their opponents to win each of the next three legs to build a ten-pin advantage.
Renegades recovered to win leg five and reduce their deficit to only four pins and were still very much in with a chance of winning the game and qualifying for the finals without reliance on other results.
However, Raspberry Ripples made a massive 80 pins in their last leg to put the game well out of Renegades’ reach. There were six stacks in the game by Raspberry Ripples players including three (16, 13 and 11) from Lee Wilks in a total of 61 pins, while team-mate Phil Laurence made 51 (16-stack).
Renegades replied with three stacks including a 15 by Andy Clewlow in a total of 51 and a 13 by Alan Cummings with 41 pins.
Whilst that result ensured Raspberry Ripples’ qualification for Torquay, Renegades would only join them if Spitfires lost to Raspberry Ripples a few days later. After an anxious wait and despite Spitfires making an excellent 380, Raspberry Ripples were again in good form with 391 pins and Renegades were again qualifiers.
Team scores: Maston Wolfhounds 329 Renegades 336; Spitfires 353 Renegades 364; Raspberry Ripples 384 Renegades 362.