WILTSHIRE ladies return to competitive action early next week as they begin the defence of their South West Counties League title.

They travel to Devon on Tuesday to the neutral venue of Tiverton West End Bowls Club to face Cornwall.

Six players from this readership area are included in the 24-strong six rinks team for the opening SWCL match of 2019.

Those players are Jean Collier (Box), Ann Roberts-Phare and Fizz Mace (North Wilts, Chippenham), Dawn Edwards (Avon, Melksham), Jenny Couch (Spencers, Melksham) and Viv Baskerville (Chippenham Town).

Mace will skip a rink that also includes Robert-Phare (lead) and Edwards at number two.

Baskerville and Collier are both named as threes to Babs Salter and Margaret Annetts respectively, while Couch will lead for the Janet Willis’ rink.

Prior to this SWCL match at Tiverton, the county ladies stage their second and final Johns Trophy trial this Saturday at Wroughton (2pm).

Last season, Wiltshire reached the national inter-county championship final for only the second time in their history but lost to Surrey.

They will be hoping to go one better this season and lift the trophy for only the second time since 1995.

In the Wroughton Johns Trophy trial, 16 of the 40 players chosen hail from seven local clubs.

The players selected are Kathryn Yeoman, Jean Collier, Karen Funnell, Debbie Shadwell, Carol Grenfell, Sue Cooke and Alex Jacobs (all Box), Charlie Godwin and Yvette Maxwell – Darkes (RWB), Fizz Mace and Anne Roberts-Phare (North Wilts), Marcia Hartley and Georgina Newman (Avon), Bev Lilley (Devizes), Viv Baskerville (Chippenham Town) and Delia Godwin (Spencers Melksham).

NATIONAL championship qualifying events commenced last Friday in the county ladies fours competition, which lead to Royal Leamington Spa in August for two teams from Wiltshire.

The competition is already down to the last eight in both the northern and southern sections of the draw.

The last 16 ties will be played on Friday, with the four winners from the north and south sections progressing to the quarter-finals due to be staged at Amesbury on Saturday May 18.

WILTSHIRE men’s top county team competition, four rink league, which began in 1920, will be divided into two sections only for the second year running – northern and southern regions.

Each of the two sections will comprise of 15 clubs, with the M4 motorway being the rough dividing line between them.

The southern section will feature Amesbury, Avon (Melksham), Box, Chippenham Park, Chippenham Town, Corsham, Devizes, Holt, Pewsey Vale, Spencers Melksham, Spencer Moulton (Bradford-on-Avon), Salisbury, Trowbridge Westbourne, Warminster and Winsley.

Each of the southern clubs will play each other once during the 2019 season, with two points being awarded for each winning rink out of the four and one point for a drawn rink.

Six points are also awarded to the club who wins on total aggregate scores. Should these be drawn, the points will be shared.

A maximum of 14 points is available in every match contested.

The top four teams on points in the south will progress to the quarter-final play-offs along with the top four in the northern section.

The play-off for the overall title, which Chippenham Town won last year for the first time in 21 years, will be played at Devizes on September 8, along with all of the other Bowls Wiltshire competition finals.

First and second round games in the past fortnight have been played in the south, with holders Chippenham Town, Avon (twice), Amesbury, Salisbury, and Holt all recording 14-point maximum hauls.