WILTSHIRE men have qualified for the semi-finals of the inter-county championship for the Middleton Cup with a brilliant eight-shots win last Saturday over last season’s losing finalists Devon.

It is the second time in three seasons that the county have reached the last four and they will be looking to go one better than in 2012 when they lost in the final to Norfolk by four shots.

The Moonrakers booked a semi-final tie against Hampshire at Bowls England Headquarters at Royal Leamington Spa on August 2 after an outstanding 117-109 quarter-final victory over Devon on the neutral green at West Backwell Bowls Club, Somerset.

Moonrakers were 27-26 up across the board at five ends but 61-54 down at 10. However, they hit back to lead 86-81 at 15 and still held a narrow three shot advantage, leading 100-97 at 18.

A strong finish saw them extend the winning margin to 117-109.

Wiltshire edged the rink honours 3-2 with game drawn.

Ben Gadd’s rink recorded a big 30-14 victory and Russell Francis’s four produced a late flourish to turn his match around and snatch a fourshots win.

The other winning skip was Wootton Bassett’s Neil Smith, who edged home by two shots in a very close game, while Graham Shadwell’s rink were pegged back at the finish and drew 19-19.

The only losses were suffered by Mike Jackson’s all-Westlecot rink (nine shots) and Mel Biggs’s quartet (five shots).

An elated Wiltshire team manager Dave Snell said: “We put in another fantastic performance against a very strong Devon side today to creep over the line and book a semi-final place at Leamington.

“It was another great team performance and as usual was combined with a superb team spirit.”

Rink 1: Paul Kistle, Mike Richards, Ian Jefferies & Mike Jackson (all Westlecot) lost to Griff Sanders 12-21.

Rink 2: Kyle Anderson (Wootton Bassett), Justin Davis (Holt), Graham Hatherall & Mel Biggs (both West) lost to Rob Paxton 20-25.

Rink 3: Wayne Simmonds (Holt), Chris Cheesley, Dave Godwin (both WB) & Russell Francis (Spencer Moulton) beat Ian Lesley 20-16.

Rink 4: Gary Jackson (West), Craig Doughty (Holt), Steve Snell (WB) & Graham Shadwell (S Moulton) drew with Ian Bond 19-19.

Rink 5: Kevin Embling (West), Keith Bailey (Holt), Gary Morphet & Neil Smith (both WB) beat James Webber 16-14.

Rink 6: Tom Warner, Nick Revell (both Amesbury), Wayne Snook & Ben Gadd (both Holt) beat Kevin Phillips 30-14.

Score: Wiltshire beat Devon 117-109

  • DAVE SNELL has qualified for the senior singles championship at Leamington next month.

The county men’s Middleton Cup team manager and reigning national over 55s pairs champion with Mel Biggs clinched his place in the over 55s singles competition at Leamington with a 21-8 victory over Nick Grenfell (Box) in the area final on Tuesday evening.