Title race could go to the wire
Four teams crossed the finishing line over a very dramatic weekend in the Manx Petroleum sponsored Outdoor Winter Bowling League, as first the title destination swung one way, then it swung back, but now with a familiar third party in the reckoning.
Things began on Saturday in arctic-like conditions with current champions Unstopabowls down in third spot and having an outside chance of retaining their title to make it eight wins in the past nine years.
They sat out the opener, in which Parkers notched up their first maximum of the campaign against a Castletown Cannons side whose cause was not helped by being a player down.
Cannons did fare better in the next encounter when they took a game off the champions, who themselves only dropped two points.
This ahead of a clash in which the victors Unstopabowls inflicted the heaviest defeat of the season on Parkers and in turn kept up their own little run of being the only team to have scored over 100 points in each of their fixtures.
So with a total of 120 to add to the earlier 124, Unstopabowls took their points tally overall to 2092 with two fixtures in hand on the leading pair.
This left 273 to make up, so they needed the leaders to drop at least 21 chalks the following day to give them a mathematical chance of achieving a great comeback.
Results for Saturday, February 11: Parkers 126 (6), Castletown Cannons 72 (0); Castletown Cannons 80 (1), Unstopabowls 124 (5); Unstopabowls 120 (5), Parkers 85 (1).
In a nutshell on Sunday afternoon, Mooragh Lakers who were top and second-placed Seven-Up, struggled against Outsiders, who unfortunately for them also had a player missing, so things could have been even worse for them both.
Lakers lost for only the second time and with their lowest total, as the fourth placed outfit were well up for spoiling the party when they battled out a 92-99 scoreline.
Also in action were Seven-Up and they started with a fairly comfortable victory over Bowl Rollers, which in turn swung a 16-point deficit into an advantage of 12, both contenders with one fixture left to play as they then swapped opponents.
Looking at Outsiders versus Seven-up clash first, it couldn’t have ended much closer, when Seven-Up made that extra player count and took the spoils by a margin of just two, even though their challengers won 4-2 on games.
Match details (Outsiders first): Tony Dugdale 21, Kevin Quirk 16; Lyn Bolton 21, Peter Hughes 16; Sid Bolton 13, Alison Keggen 21; Frank Watson 21, Derek Clarke 13; Dido Kelly 21, Nigel Thomas 18; Steve Cook 6, Jordan Cain and Paula Firth 21. Outsiders 103 (4), Seven-Up 105 (2).
As you can see the card showed a score of 103 to 105, so this left Seven-Up with an advantage of 117 over Lakers who were still on the green competing against the Rollers.
They had won the first four games, were ahead in another, but trailing well behind in the sixth on a score that left them in second place.
However they took a fifth win and showed their battling qualities in the remaining game, that ended in 19-21 defeat; which in turn gave them enough points to go back to top of the table by a gap of just seven.
All this let Unstopabowls back into the reckoning, but could drop no more than 14 points themselves over their remaining four fixtures, so it is possible we will have to wait until the last day of the season to find out who will be champions.
Remaining results for Sunday, February 12: Mooragh Lakers 92 (3), Outsiders 99 (3); Seven-Up 120 (4), Bowl Rollers 86 (2); Bowl Rollers 93 (1), Mooragh Lakers 124 (5).
Some consolation for the Seven-Up captain, Jordan Cain, was that he has won the Derek Killey merit award ahead of ladies winner Jenny Moore (Mooragh Lakers) who retains the Geoff Osborn memorial trophy.
Both have finished on the same points total, a target, which could be equalled by Glynn Hargraves from Unstopabowls also, but Jordan has the lowest points against total.