England lose a shoot-out
THE FINE margin between winning and losing was painfully clear for three Bideford bowlers making their England debuts at the weekend, writes Mark Jenkin.
Steve Bonetta, Neil Popham and Darren James, of Bideford Bowling Club, were honoured to represent their country at the British Isles Championships in Wales.
But despite an excellent performance in the semi-final against Ireland at Llandrindod Wells, they lost by a single shot after an extra end.
Bonetta, the skipper, said: "Darren played superbly. He outbowled their lead and Neil had a fantastic game.
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"We all played to the best of our ability. I doubt you could have asked for anything else.
"We had a bit of a laugh and a joke about the luck of the Irish.
"They had a bit of luck through the game where they turned a few shots."
With a 15-12 lead going into the final end, the England triple held a one-shot advantage when Bonetta delivered his final wood.
"My last wood, I drew up to try and get in behind," he said. "It literally stopped on the edge of the ditch, fell over on the green, then rolled back over itself and went into the ditch.
"If it had stayed there, I think we would have won the game."
Ireland, including the British Isles singles champion, pulled level at 15-15, forcing the match to the pressure situation of an extra end.
"The worst thing is going to bowl with two shots in your head," said Bonetta.
"You should have one shot and stick to it. I think I was about 75 for one shot and 25 for a different shot."
Although Ireland clinched the win, their skipper went to hospital feeling unwell, only to discharge himself in time for the final, which they lost 18-15 to Scotland.
Bideford were representing England having won the Bowls England PFL National Triples Championships in Worthing last year. Backed by about 25 supporters who made the journey up from North Devon, they relished the occasion.
"We would like to say a big thank you to all the followers," said Bonetta. "They might be a small crowd but they have got big voices."
Bonetta and James must put the disappointment aside for another big game this weekend when they represent Devon against Cornwall in the Middleton Cup.
The winners of the match in Exeter will finish top of the group and progress to the quarter-finals of the national competition.
James is in outstanding form having beaten Michael Coombes, of Shaldon, in the national under-25 singles at Bitton Park, Teignmouth, on Sunday.