WILTSHIRE men saw their hopes of success in inter-county national team competitions this season suffer a double blow last weekend.

They lost their crucial final West group match decider against Cornwall in the Middleton Cup and, 24 hours later, went out in the re-arranged regional final of the Balcomb Trophy to Devon.

Wiltshire men lost their vital top-of-the-table clash with Cornwall and failed to wrestle pole position in West group B.

Moonrakers were beaten 115-109 at North Petherton (Somerset) but took the honours on three of the six rinks and drew on another, with Cornwall having only needed an overall shots win to pip Wiltshire for top spot and a quarter-final place.

Cornwall took 10 points for the overall shots win and five points from rink successes, while Wiltshire only gained seven points from the rink wins.

This saw the table end with Cornwall on 75 points, Wiltshire on 62 with Somerset third way back on 46 points.

The game between Wiltshire and Cornwall was closely fought. Overall, Wiltshire were 31-30 down at five ends and 59-56 down at 10.

They fought back to cut the gap to only 80-79 at 15 ends and were only 99-95 adrift at 18 but could not close the gap further and finally lost overall 115-109.

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

Shadwell’s win was hard fought, coming from 9-0 down after five ends and 12-5 adrift at 10 before drawing level 15-15 at 18 and taking the last-end decider to win 18-17.

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 earned a 19-16 success but Steve Snell's rink of Kyle Anderson, Mike Snell and Dave Godwin went down 19-12.

Wiltshire men’s player/manager Mike Jackson (Westlecot) said: “Sadly, our Middleton Cup campaign came to an end as we suffered a six-shot defeat to Cornwall.

“Played on a tricky neutral green at North Petherton, the game was tight all the way through with neither team ever being more than single-figures up on the game.

“Despite holding a narrow lead early on, Cornwall fought back well to take a slender lead into the closing stages.

“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 manage to get over the line.

“It was very pleasing to see Graham Shadwell make a great comeback to win by one shot, 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.

“There are many positives to take from this season, with a number of players grasping the opportunities we gave them and this bodes well for 2020.

“I'd like to thank all the players, reserves and selection team for their efforts this season, this isn't the end, it's just the beginning.”

  • SIX teams, headed by holders Chippenham Town and Holt, are leading the way in the southern area of the county to earn a top-four finish and qualify for the quarter-finals of the Wiltshire men’s four-rink league and be joined by four clubs from the northern section.

Both sides are both unbeaten to date in the southern section, as Town lead on 140 points from 11 games with Holt on 130 from 10.

Unless there are any big surprises, both looked nailed on to claim places in the end-of-season play-offs.

The final two spots looks to be a battle between Salisbury (108 points), Bradford-on-Avon’s Spencer Moulton (98), Spencer Melksham (97) and fellow Melksham side Avon (92).

Salisbury have only played nine matches but the other three have all played 10.

All teams play 14 matches in the initial stages of the county men’s four rink league competition.

In the north section, Swindon Westlecot and Royal Wootton Bassett are both well clear of their nearest challengers.