Welsh Club Championship (Carruthers Shield)
Tenby 93 – 50 Pontrydfen
After the successfully navigating past Caerleon and Morriston in the first and second round of the Carruthers Shield, the Tenby sponsored Layton and Co solicitors and Chandler Rogers Estate Agents team played at Sutton Street to face the most successful team in the History of the Carruthers Shield.
Pontrhydfen have won the title 7 times and have won the event 6 times since 1999 and lost by 1 shot in the 2007 final. Pontrhydfen is a small village in the Afan Valley, in Neath Port Talbot county borough and their side is littered with Welsh Internationals, World and Commonwealth Champions and Multiple Welsh and British Isles Champions. This game was the sternest test that the Tenby Club have faced in their entire history and Pontrhydfen went into the match as firm favourites to end Tenby’s tenure as Welsh Club Champions.
At 5 ends, Tenby were down by 6 shots (12-18) and the task facing them was beginning to show as Pontrhydfen started to settle into the match with their international players showing their skill by quickly adapted to the Tenby ‘green’. Tenby rallied superbly over the next 5 ends and led by 6 by the 10th end (35-9). From there, Tenby took control of the match by taking the challenge to the Afan Valley team and led at 15 ends by 28 shots (66-38). By the time the 18th end was recorded, the match as a contest was over as Tenby extended their lead to 36 shots and upon the conclusion, a victory of 43 was secured.
Rink 1, saw Phil Carpenter take on multiple commonwealth games medal winner David Wilkins. David was superb for the away team and showed just why he has attained over 120 welsh international caps. The match was close up until the 10th end at 8-8, but then the Tenby rink, with newly crowned Pembrokeshire Pairs Champion, Jonathan Webb in great form as was Tenby’s former Welsh International, Phil Carpenter, won the next 5 ends to lead 20-8. The final score of 22-14 could have been by a bigger margin if it was not for the skill of David Wilkins.
Pat Currie team up with Welsh International John Roberts, and at five ends they could not get on the score board and trailed 0-7 to another Welsh International, Barrie Evans. The rink rallied with Neil Dickinson having a superb game. Neil totally outplayed Ben Thomas (back to back indoor singles champion 2008 and 2009) to help the rink take a 8-7 lead by the 10th (end). A count of ‘5’ broke a close scoring match and after the 18th end, the Pontrhydfen team conceded defeat as the rain came in, 20-12.
Junior Internationals Luke and Craig Guymer formed, once again, a great ‘rink’ partnership with the excellent Luke Rees and Mike Jackson both in great form on Rink 3. They took on former World Champion, William Thomas and like the result on ‘rink 1’, the match was evenly poised at 10 ends, with the home rink behind 7-8. A strong finish from ends 13 to 21 saw them win 20-13.
Paul Diment played on Rink 4 against Welsh International, Jeff Wilkins and at 5 ends the strong combination of Diment and Pembrokeshire Singles Champion, (Peter) Day trailed by 3-5. A change in tactics which involved the front end of David Spencer and Joe Richards changing ‘hands’ (not literally!) reaped dividends and by the 10th end, they had built up a lead of 6 shots (12-6). David Spencer, in my opinion, played his best ever game for Tenby and was backed up by the excellent Joe Richards. The rink at 15 ends had now raced into a 23-6 lead and a count of ‘6’ on the 18th end saw a huge win of 31-11 being recorded.
In my opinion, this was the best ever performance by a Tenby team and could even rival the historic events of last August when the Welsh title was won for the first time. It is always hard to defend a title as teams will always be better prepared and determined to be the first to defeat the holders. Considering the strength of the opposition, the score line has no doubt sent a message to Welsh Bowls and after the result, Tenby have been installed as 6/4 favourites to retain their title. Next up will be another Afan Valley team, Glyncorrwg. Although they have not got the pedigree of Pontrhydfen, they are an extremely skilful side and Tenby have a hard task on their hands to progress to the semi-finals. Obviously home advantage is a great boost at this stage of the competition and with the match being held at Sutton Street I do not see anything but a win. However lessons have been learnt from our earlier defeat at home to Whitland and complacency will not be an issue for this match. I reported after the Whitland defeat that it could very well be a result which focused us and so far I have been proved, like selection, right(!).
Rink 1: G Hewitt, J Webb, A Muskett and P Carpenter 22-14 D Wilkins
Rink 2: N Dickinson, J Baggott, J Roberts and P Currie 20-12 B Evans
Rink 3: L Rees, M Jackson, L Guymer and C Guymer 20-13 W Thomas
Rink 4: D Spencer, J Richards, P Day and P Diment 31-11 J Wilkins