On Saturday 13th February 14 players from the Northern Zone played in the Junior Inter-Zone Bowls Competition at Shaw’s Bridge.
Six of the players were participating in this competition for the first time.
The players looked very well in their new team tops, which had been kindly sponsored by Kenny Bradley of “Kenny’s” and Hugh Wade, Funeral Director.
The competition was played in a round-robin format, with five points available for each match. There was a total of 14 teams and Northern were drawn in the group with South Tyrone, North-West Blues and West-Down.
First up was South Tyrone. Northern got off to a good start, but South Tyrone started to claw back in the second half. It all came down to the last end and the opposition managed to lift the two shots which they needed to secure a win. However they still gained two valuable points, so it was still all to play for. Next game was against North-West Blues who had reached the final last year. All three rinks produced some excellent play to lift the maximum five points.
The scene was all set now for the last round of games, with it possible for any one of the four teams to qualify. Northern needed three points to be sure of winning their group. Things started off badly for them and they went 10 shots down and their dream of a semi-final place was quickly fading. However in the last two ends the Northern players suddenly turned things around. Shea Martin’s rink was first to finish but they were still trailing by three shots over all.
Matthew Williamson then lifted a 3 to square the match. At this stage Adam Stratton was lying one shot and as the opposition had no more bowls to play, Adam did not play his last bowl and so Northern won by the narrowest of margins, thus gaining four points and a place in the semi-final.
In the semi-final Mid-Tyrone provided the opposition. This was another very closely contested game in which first one team was in the lead and then the other. The last end was very tense but with 2 rinks finished Northern was 3 shots down and the last rink could only manage to score one more shot to be beaten 23-21.
Chris Jones, team coach congratulated the team on their outstanding performance and said that it was a great achievement to reach the semi-final of the Junior Inter-Zone Championships.