Somerset Short Mat Bowls
Essex A were denied a place in the Inter County Rinks final, after they went out on the head-to-head rule at the round robin stage at Daventry Indoor Bowls Club.
Essex won their first two games against Dorset and Surrey before they were narrowly beaten by Somerset who progressed.
Essex kicked off the rinks finals against Dorset with Eileen Smith-Allan, Shirely Banner, David Chittock and Phil Banner who took a 9-7 victory.
Josie Robinson, Bob Taylor, Alan High and Pat Goodchild heaped the pressure on Dorset, as they came through 15-5 winners.
Essex then game managed the rest of the tie, as Pat High, Brenda Crowe, Roger Dover and Peter Debenham were narrowly defeated 10-9.
Kay Debenham, Carol Taylor, Paul Glenister and Pauline Child were also edged out 8-7 but won the overall contest for Essex by 10 shots.
Essex then went on to face Surrey where they continued their momentum as Robinson, Taylor, High and Goodchild won handy 15-7.
High, Crowe, Dover and Debenham pressed Surrey to increase their overall lead with a 12-7 victory.
Essex extended their advantage as Debenham, Taylor, Glenister and Childs won 15-9 – to give Essex a 19 shot lead.
The final four were the only defeat in the session for Essex as Smith-Allan, Banner, Chittock and Banner went down 11-6 which concluded another comfortable victory by 14 shots.
In the deciding match after lunch, Essex faced Somerset and needed to avoid defeat to progress.
Smith-Allan, Banner, Chittock and Banner took a narrow 15-13 victory. Somerset then hit back as Robinson, Taylor, High and Goodchild were edged out by the same scoreline 15-13 to leave the scores all level.
Nothing separated the two sides even after Essex’s third rink had finished as High, Crowe, Dover and Debenham drew 10-10 with the Somerset four.
The tie went down to the wire with, Debenham, Taylor, Glenister and Child unfortunately were beaten 14-7 to lose out by seven shots.
Essex despite a strong shot difference were knocked out on the head-to-head rule which saw Somerset progress to the final to face eventual winners Devon.
Essex now look ahead to the weekend where they go into ICC action in the last-16 where they will face Stockport alongside the Premier team.
The finals of the new Premier Inter County (ICC) Rinks competition will take place on Saturday 5th March at Daventry Indoor Bowls Centre.
With the groups now drawn for the final, this years ICC finalists Essex have been placed in group two joined by West Sussex, Dorset and Somerset.
Somerset Premier will be looking to do the double in this new tournament by the English Short Mat Bowls Association, as their “A” team won the rinks event back in January.
Essex will go into the finals full of confidence, after they breezed through their qualifiers and secured a spot in the ICC final where they will battle it out with Norfolk on Sunday 6th March.
Somerset will go in favourites prior to start of play, with the highest qualification score but face a tough test in their group with a strong Essex side.
In group one, is Devon who will meet Surrey, Kent and Cornwall. All potential dark horses in the competition and will battle it out to get through into the knockout stages.
Kent and Devon were runaway winners in both their qualifiers and will want to carry on where they left off, despite facing each other in an interesting matchup ahead of the day.
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