Northants Bowling Federation's hopes of improving on their previous season in the inter-county southern division of the men's Adams Trophy were dashed when they were beaten 192-172 by local rivals Hunts at Brampton Institute.
In heat that at times rivalled that endured in the Brazil World Cup, they never fully recovered from a poor start on an immaculate surface and won narrowly on only two rinks and drew on another to claim only five of the 18 points they needed to challenge defending champions Lincolnshire for second place.
League leaders Suffolk now need only six points from bottom of the table North Essex to claim their place in the national final at Skegness against Durham.
Northants' second string Newton Trophy team, however, finished the season in better spirits, beating Hunts 17-5 with an emphatic 175-151 victory at Somersham.
Northants' women bowlers secured two welcome victories at North Essex but after, for some, a 14-hour round trip to Norwich in which their coach suffered a puncture, they returned with only a total of eight points to show from their two matches against Norfolk.
Results (Northants names only)
Adams Trophy (at Brampton Institute): Hunts 192 (17pts), Northants 175 (5). R Stevens, D Noble, M Welsford won 30-21; F Richardson, P Buckley, L Welsford won 37-35; N Wright, C Watson, J Harford drew 28-28; S Fenlon, B Warters, R Martin lost 30-32; S Roden, G Agger, P Brown lost 25-30; S Jinks, G Jinks, B Lawrence lost 22-46.
Newton Trophy (at Somersham): Hunts151 (5), Northants 175 (17) P Holmes, A Grief, F Addy won 33 – 14; J Corney, M Greaves, R Strong won 34 – 18; P Cox, R Montgomery, M Squires lost 34 – 37; J Ruddy, D Corney, P Jessop drew 30 – 30; J Clipston, H Shipp, R Maplethorpe lost 15 – 31; M Ramsden, L Sharp, M Linnell won 29 – 20.
Donald Steward Trophy ((at Haverhill): North Essex 120 (6) Northants 153 (16). K Martin, M Bussey, S Craig won 33-10; S Suffling, N Squires, L Darani lost 17 – 23; D Flowers, J Duffy, J Masters lost 22 – 30; G Edwards, F Thomas, P O'Brien lost 21 – 26; L Hext, J Ford, J Padley won 37 – 13; K Browning, S Moir, J Robinson won 23 – 18.
Silver Jubilee Vase (at West Hadingham): North Essex 127 (6), Northants 128 (16). J Needham, C Warters, A Cullingworth won 25 – 20; V Du'Kett, G King, M Linnell lost 14 – 28; S Green, V Hatch, L Toms won 26 – 17; M Randall, J Hill, W Harrold won 27 – 15; M Malton, W Stevens, P Collicott lost 19 – 26; A Hadley, R Collin, S Dale lost 17 – 21.
Donald Steward Trophy (at County Arts, Norwich). Norfolk 153 (16), Northants 130 (6) S Suffling, N Squires, L Darani won 25-22; D Flowers, J Duffy, J Masters lost 17-31; G Edwards, S Moir, P O'Brien lost 17-32; M Linnell, J Padley, J Ford won 22-20; K Martin, M Bussey, S Craig won 32-17; K Browning, H Bass, J Robinson lost 17-31
Silver Jubilee Vase (at Carters, Norwich). Norfolk 146 (20), Northants 110 (2). J Needham, C Warters, A Cullingworth lost 17-28; V Du'Kett, G King, A Cooper won 21-16; S Green, V Hatch, L Toms lost 15-24; M Malton, W Stevens, P collicott lostr 21-25; V Hempsell, J Hill, W Harrold lost 18-23; T Hanley, R Collin, S Dale lost 18-30.
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Ketton Bowls Club celebrated its 40th anniversary with a match between Peter Edwards' President's team against players from the Northants Men's and Women's Bowling Federations, to which the club is affiliated.
The visitors won a closely-fought match 124-103 and afterwards congratulated the club on its recent green refurbishments and Ketton Sports and Community Association on its efforts to establish a multi-sport centre of excellence for cricket, football, tennis and bowls.