WILTSHIRE men saw their hopes of success in two national team competitions this season come to an end last weekend.

Despite winning on more of the rinks, they lost on overall shots in their crucial West group match decider to Cornwall in the Middleton Cup and, the following day, went out to Devon in the re-arranged regional final of the Balcomb Trophy.

Wiltshire lost their crucial inter-county top-of-the-table clash with Cornwall 115-109 at North Petherton (Somerset) despite winning on three of the six rinks.

Alas, Cornwall had only needed an overall shots win to pip Wiltshire for top spot and a quarter-final place.

They gained 10 points for the overall shots win and five points from rink successes, while Wiltshire gained seven points from their rink wins.

This saw the table finish with Cornwall on 75 points ahead of Wiltshire on 62.

The game between the pair was a closely-fought affair.

Overall, Wiltshire were 31-30 down after five ends and 59-56 down at 10. They fought back to cut the gap to 80-79 at 15 ends and were only 99-95 adrift at 18 but could not close the gap further and finally lost 115-109.

One of Wiltshire’s three rink victories came from the one skipped by Spencer Moulton’s Graham Shadwell, who became only the sixth Wiltshire player to reach 100 Middleton Cup appearances.

Shadwell’s win was hard fought, coming from 9-0 down after five ends to win 18-17 and make it a personal day to remember.

In the Balcomb Trophy, Wiltshire exited the competition after a 35-31 defeat in the regional final to Devon.

Neil Collett’s rink of Gary Jackson, Wayne Snook and Graham Shadwell won 19-16, but Steve Snell’s rink of Kyle Anderson, Mike Snell and Dave Godwin went down 19-12.

Wiltshire player-manager Mike Jackson said: “The Middleton Cup game against Cornwall was tight all the way through, with neither team ever more than single figures up.

“The team showed the fighting spirit that has epitomised our season and levelled the game with five ends to go but, unfortunately, we couldn’t quite get over the line.

“It was very pleasing to see Graham Shadwell make a great comeback to win. A fitting way to celebrate his 100th cap, which is a fantastic achievement and well deserved by one of this county’s best-ever players.”

“The Balcomb Trophy game against Devon saw us up against a very strong team boosting five current internationals.

“We were about 10 shots down after five ends, the team fought resolutely but were still 14 down at 15 ends.

“The guys rallied and reduced the arrears to be only six down with four ends to play but despite their best efforts they couldn’t quite overturn the deficit.

“As in Saturday’s Middleton defeat, there were fine margins involved in winning and losing and, unfortunately, we came out on the wrong side of the result.”

FIVE teams, headed by Westlecot and Royal Wootton Bassett, are leading the way in the northern area of the county to earn a top-four finish in the Wiltshire men’s four rink league and qualify for the play-offs.

Westlecot stand on 145 points from 11 matches while champions Royal Wootton Bassett are second on 130 points from 10 games.

Both sides are unbeaten and look certainties to reach the play-offs.

They are both well clear of their nearest challengers Highworth (117 points from 11 games) Purton (82 from nine) and Rodbourne Cheney (79 from 10).

All teams play 14 matches in the initial stages of the league competition.