WESSEX Firsts clinched the Wiltshire title in the final match of the post-Christmas season, overhauling a 10-point deficit on league leaders Cricklade with a 3-2 win over Defence Academy.
Young talent Todd Bennett got Wessex off to a strong start against DA’s Darren O’Sullivan, taking the first leg. O’Sullivan came storming back to take the next two, however, and pipped Bennett to the finishing line in a tight final leg.
Anthony Dennington squared the match up with a swift 3-0 win over Neville Buckle, including an opening win to love in the first leg.
Things were not looking good for Wessex when top string James Roue lost out to Nigel Rowe.
Despite pushing hard, Roue was unable to get a leg over the line as Rowe won 3-0.
Justin Cox needed a win over Brian Bell at fifth string to keep Wessex’s match and title hopes alive.
Cox managed to keep Bell behind him, taking the first two games.
However, Bell kept returning the ball and putting pressure on Cox to finish the rallies.
Cox got a case of the yips and lost the third leg and the fourth almost went the same way, but Cox finally managed to finish off his hard-working opponent.
This left John Pierce with the chance to take the glory for Wessex against Dave Ridgeway.
Pierce cruised to a five-point lead in the opening leg, only to lose without scoring another point.
In the second Ridgeway got ahead but Pierce was able to replicate the story of the first leg to get a turnaround win. Pierce started to alter the angle of attack and changed pace in the third leg to avoid trading with Ridgeway’s power game. The tactic worked and Pierce took the leg 9-1.
Ridgeway countered in the fourth game and, with honours even towards the tail, it was Pierce who made fewer errors and took the leg, the game, the match and ultimately the title for Wessex.
Wessex will now take on and Marlborough A, the pre-Christmas league winner, to decide the ultimate champion of the 2013-14 season.
Elsewhere, Despite fielding their strongest team so far this season, Wessex thirds struggled to match their local rivals from the Oasis and were well beaten 4-1.
Dave Hutton and Howard Wilson failed to compete in their first games against Edward Glennie and Dave Burns respectively and, with both losing 3-0, Wessex were two matches down early on.
Josh Watkins put up a spirited display against Tom Morris but Watkins lost a decisive third game after being 6-2 ahead which meant Morris had secured the match points for the Oasis.
Paul Maddison was able to give Wessex thirds a consolation win against Dan Burns. In the final tie Ian Thompson looked like staging a comeback from 2-0 against Gareth Hopes but Hopes had other ideas and fought back to take the match 3-1.