BOWLS: Smith bids to make it third time lucky on national stage

This Is Wiltshire: Neil Smith in action Neil Smith in action

NEIL Smith has booked his place in the latter stages of a third national indoor championship event this season.

The Westlecot indoor player has reached the last 32 in the national singles championship, which will be staged next month at Nottingham IBC.

Smith has already competed at the beginning of this month in the Champion of Champions competition at Hayling Island, going out in the last 16.

Then early last week at Northampton in the mixed pairs together with his eldest daughter Lucy, 17, they knocked out reigning champions Barwell before losing in the quarter-finals.

Smith qualified for the last 32 in the national singles at Nottingham with victory in the Area 10 singles championship, beating England junior international Ryan Atkins (Malvern Hills) 21-19 in the area final played at MidGlos (Brockworth).

Smith led teenager Atkins early on but found himself 19-13 down before staging a tremendous fightback to claim victory.

“It was nip and tuck in the early stages,” said Smith.

“We were tied 10-10 and I was holding three but he fired and took all my bowls out and moved the jack back to hold two. I missed with my last wood and he drew another to go 13-10 up.

“Then I had a real loose end and dropped another three - my one bad end of the match - and he went on to build a 19-13 lead.

“I was not going to give it up and got a run of one, two, one, one, one to draw level at 19-19.

“And on the last end I drew a front toucher, he was wide, and then I really made my second bowl count before he fired and took it out.

“But I drew another to hold game again, he fired again and clipped the shot bowl out. With my last bowl I drew another front toucher to lie game, he missed with his last giving me victory.

“It was one of the best singles matches I have been involved in and definitely one of my finest comebacks. Ironically it was the same score against his dad (Mark Atkins) in the champion of champions area final when I was 19-13 down but won 21-19.”

Smith misses this Sunday’s Wessex League match for Westlecot as he is competing in the Desborough (Maidenhead) Open which is part of the planetbowls.com open singles circuit.

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