Warwickshire had reason to be grateful to the rulebook in their latest National League Premier Division encounter.
Whereby the majority of teams were playing fixture number nine in the Premier Division of the UKDA National League, Warwickshire were playing game number eight as they had a rearranged fixture with Glamorgan still to play.
Playing at home Warwickshire were taking on Hampshire who were five places below them, had played one game more than them and were eighteen points behind them so with the hosts enjoying a very successful season so far a win was most definitely on the cards.
Hampshire were given a fantastic start to the ladies ‘B’ game as their Laura Turner turned in a terrific display beating Denise Keyte 3-0 in 18,19 and 18 darts giving her a 27.33 average plus her team’s match award. The visitors lead didn’t last long as Melanie Jones cancelled it out with her 3-1 success over Susan Power and with a lady of the match performance from Wendy Adams Warwickshire were 2-1 up. Wendy had a somewhat slow start but got better and better as the game went on winning in 30,27 and 21 darts for a 19.27 average and a 3-0 success over Karen Webber.
A draw for the home team was assured as early as the fourth game as Nina Bolt beat Dawn Simmonds 3-0 but it was at this point that the tide began to turn. Abi Jurd won 3-0 against Marian Conway to take the outcome to the final game between Caroline Pike (Warwickshire) and Corrine Hammond. Corrine went 2-0 up in 17 and 23 darts only to see Caroline respond with winning legs of 21 and 19 darts to take the game to a decider. Despite top scores of 100 and 180, plus throws at a finishing double Caroline Pike lost the leg as Corrine Hammond won it in 23 darts, the game 3-2 and at the same time earned her team a share of the points in a 3-3 draw.
Karl Reynolds (Warwickshire) came from 1-0 down against Will Buckman to take a 2-1 lead but it was Buckman who went on to win the game 4-2. Lee Miller was quick to restore parity as he accounted for Andy Mitchell with a similar 4-2 scoreline, however it was Hampshire who took the lead for a second time as Adrian Wright won 4-1 against Dave Honey. The game continued to go with the darts advantage as Martin Tonks squared the match once again when he beat Lionel Webster 4-1.
Game number five saw the sequence break as Mark Strong gave Warwickshire the lead for the first time in the game when he won 4-1 against Frankie Howard but at the halfway point it was all level with Aaron Turner adding his fantastic 4-0 win over Scott Hope to Hampshire’s tally, Turner winning in 12,15,17 and 12 darts to take the visitors men’s ‘B’ match award with a tremendous 35.79 average.
Steve Musson (Hampshire) was pushed all the way for his 4-3 win in the second half opener by Mark Carter, but the scores were level yet again in the eighth when Will Naylor won 4-2 against Dave Bonnett.
With the running score at 4-4 the visitors then opened up a 6-4 lead as Sam Dyke beat Adam Hancock 4-1 and Graham Chalk won 4-2 against Mark Tomlinson. It took a man of the match performance from Dave Hill to keep Warwickshire in the game, Hill winning 4-1 against Andy Jurd in 17,16,24 and 14 darts giving him a 26.19 average.
Mark Martin looked as though he would earn the home team a share of the points as he took the first leg against Adam Lipscombe in 16 darts, but with a 104 game shot Lipscombe levelled and then with two 17 darts legs went 3-1 up. Martin won the fifth in 18 dart s but with a 15 darts leg and another creditable Hampshire average of 29.23 Lipscombe won 4-2 to give his ‘B’ team mates a 7-5 victory.
The away team got the better start in the ladies ‘A’ match when Jane Monaghan (19.52) won 3-0 against Sue Gulliver and Tracy North beat Chloe McKivett 3-1. Angela Jones stopped the Hampshire charge when she won 3-1 against Joanne Senior and with a straight 3-0 win for Natalie Gilbert over Pennie Lewis it was all square at 2-2.
Hampshire got their noses in front once again when Corrine Hammond won 3-0 against Donna Pinch, but the game finished at 3-3 when Tammy Montgomery won the final game against Sue Lowther 3-2, Tammy collecting her teams match award for her 21.72 average.
A win was now required from the men’s ‘A’ for just a share of the spoils and they began well as Gareth Braham after losing the first leg to Gary Stafford levelled with a 104 outshot and then took the following three legs for a 4-1 win. Steve Giddings made it 2-0 when he handed out a 4-0 whitewash to Kev Woodward. Moving the score along to 3-0 was Matty Washbrooke who went 1-0 up against Mike Symes then 2-1 down, but with wins in the next three legs got the 4-2 result before Wayne Mynard made it 4-0 with his 4-3 success over Mike Gillet, Mynard taking the lead no fewer than three times before sealing his victory.
Kevin Dowling began well with an 18 darts leg including a 112 finish followed by a 20 darts leg to go two up against Darren Barnes. Barnes then won the next three legs in 18,18 and 19 darts to go 3-2 up . Dowling won the penultimate leg but it was Barnes who got the 4-3 win when he won the decider in 21 darts.
At the midway stage Warwickshire had opened up a commanding 5-1 lead after Jack Wareing added his 4-2 win over James Nicholson to their account.
The second half was not so fruitful as the first for the hosts as Hampshire rattled off four straight wins, Luke Getty beat Ian Shaw 4-1, Richard North won 4-0 against Prakash Jiwa, Tom Martin lost 4-3 to Justin Bradshaw and Chas Barstow beat Ian McFarlane 4-1 to level the game at five each.
The penultimate encounter produced Warwickshire’s man of the match in the form of Noel Grant. Grant lost the first leg to Lee Ward but then turned the screw as he went out in 13,14,20 and 14 darts to win 4-1 with a superb 31.23 average.
The result was now hinging on the final game between Steve Hine (Warwickshire) and Scott Walters. Hine powered home to a straight 4-0 win to give the home side’s men’s ‘A’ a 7-5 victory.
The game had now effectively finished all square with an overall score of 18-18 however that was not the end of the story as it was discovered that Hampshire had fallen foul of the UKDA’s rule 15.03 which states:
“15.03 OTHER RELEVANT CRITERIA a. A player winning a Match in the ‘A’ Team cannot be selected for the ‘B’ Team in the following Match in the current season. b. A player losing a Match in the ‘A’ Team can be selected for the ‘B’ Team in the following Match in the current season but cannot also play in the ‘A’ Team of that Match. c. If an ‘A’ Team player is absent from a match for whatever reason then that player is eligible for selection into the ‘B’ Team in the Match following the one in which he/she was absent but cannot also play in the ‘A’ Team of that Match. d. Once having played in the ‘B’ Team then the terms of Rule 14.01 continue to apply”.
As a result of this fault Warwickshire ladies ‘A’ had their 3-3 draw turned into a 4-2 win and the overall result for the weekend converted from an 18-18 draw into a 19-17 win for Warwickshire leaving them with three more games to play. At this point Warwickshire are 37 points adrift of leaders Lancashire, 14 behind second-placed Yorkshire but the two teams above them only have two more games to play and a top-two finish is well and truly on the cards for the Bears.
More good news followed for the Bears:
Congratulations to Warwickshire County Darts women’s ‘A’ player Natalie Gilbert who has been selected to play for England. Natalie will join Claire Brookin (Cambridgeshire), Beau Greaves (Yorkshire), Deta Hedman – Captain (Oxfordshire), Jane Monaghan (Hampshire) and Lorraine Winstanley.
Words: Alan Towe (With Red Dragon)