WILTSHIRE women lost again in the national final of the Johns Trophy – the inter-county championship – to Surrey last Saturday at Victoria Park, Royal Leamington Spa.

After defeating Essex 117-114 in the morning semi-final, they went down heavily in the final a few hours later 142-91 to a strong Surrey side.

This was Surrey’s fourth win in the Johns in the past six seasons and Wiltshire’s second loss against this opposition in the final in successive seasons.

To reach Leamington in the top inter-county event, Wiltshire ladies had beaten Gloucestershire 121-105, Warwickshire 141-102 and Dorset 128-111 in the group matches and then Somerset 121-119 in the quarter-finals.

In the semi, against Essex, Wiltshire were 28-25 up overall after five ends and led 56-55 at 10.

They then pulled away to move 91-76 up after 15 ends and 111-93 ahead after 18 but were hauled back in the closing ends to only win 117-114.

The Moonrakers won four rinks and lost on two only, with top honours going to Carol Grenfell (Box), Viv Baskerville (Chippenham Town), Janet Willis (Stratton C) and skip Sue Bird (Warminster), who won 25-15.

Next best was the all Box rink of Debbie Shadwell, Kathryn Yeoman, Sue Cooke and ski Alex Jacobs who won 20-12.

Wiltshire opted for the same six rinks for the final against Surrey, with that team showing six changes to the side who lost 125-109 to the same opposition 12 months ago.

However, a similar fate was suffered again this season as Wiltshire went down 142-91.

They lost on all of the six rinks contested, with the foursome led by Supermarine’s Susan Griffiths that included Georgina Newman (Avon) going nearest to halting the whitewash, only losing 15-14.

Wiltshire held their own for the opening few ends overall and were only 35-34 down at six, but had slipped 64-47 adrift at 10.

The London county stepped on the power in the second half of the game, moving into a 101-71 lead at 15 ends and 121-82 ahead at 18 before finally winning 142-91 at 21 ends to retain their title.

Wiltshire ladies match secretary and Johns Trophy selector Mary Jones said: “It was disappointing to lose again but Surrey are a very strong county.

“However, it was wonderful to get to the final again after beating Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Dorset, Somerset and Essex – so the selectors must be doing something right.

“The whole team is a credit to Wiltshire, and we will see how we get on in the Walker Cup for the first time ever.”

n MOONRAKER players in other early competitions at Leamington over the weekend and Monday made swift exits.

Bev Lilley and Sheila Garlick (Devizes) went out in round one of the ladies’ senior pairs, losing to a Cornish duo.

Royal Wootton Bassett’s Charlotte Daniell won her first round junior singles tie 21-20 against Jazzmin Alder (West Witney) but went out in the second round 21-16 to Robyn Hall (Eaton Socon Ladies, Beds).

While Bassett father and son Dave and Michael Snell lost in the quarter-finals of the family pairs 17-21 to Tom and John McGuiness (Gerrards Cross, Bucks).

n QUALIFIERS for the quarter-finals in the Wiltshire men’s four-rink league were resolved last week.

In the south section, the top three’s finishing order was only decided in the final group matches.

Holders Chippenham Town beat Holt 93-67 to finish level on 166 points with Holt but with an inferior shots difference of 476 to Holt’s 513.

Salisbury were close behind in third on 162 after thumping Warminster 110-45.

Fourth spot was claimed by Spencer Moulton (Bradford on Avon), who wins over Box (98-61) and Chippenham Town (79-77).

Avon were fifth on 122 points and Spencer Melksham sixth on 117.

In the north section, Royal Wootton Bassett won their top-of-the-table clash against Westlecot 78-75 to finish unbeaten in their 14 games on 172 points, although that was only enough for runners-up spot behind Westlecot, who totalled 177.

Third place went to Purton on 134 points, who edged out Highworth on 133. Rodbourne Cheney were a distant fifth and Wroughton sixth.

The quarter-finals are scheduled for August 25. They are: Westlecot v Spencer Moulton, Chippenham Town v Purton, Royal Wootton Bassett v Salisbury, Holt v Highworth.

The semi-finals are planned for September 1, with the final to be played on county domestic finals day at Devizes on September 8.