Top Team, match report.
The British Isles Top Team Championships took place over the weekend of the 6th and 7th December. This year was England’s turn to host the event, so ICC champions Cheshire chose Lowton High school as the venue, which is the same venue used three years ago when Cheshire triumphed in this event. The opposition this time around was Oriel from Ireland and Pembrokeshire from Wales. Pembrokeshire are a side Cheshire have faced a few times in recent years, however Oriel were a team that we had not come up against previously. They proved to be tough opposition……..
Day one started with the usual formalities, and in attendance were the Deputy Mayor and local MP Andy Burnham who both took time out of their busy schedules to open the event. Once the competition started it was Cheshire who came out of the blocks on good form, taking the first session of individuals 12 points to 4 against Pembroke. This session comprised two singles, two pairs and so on. Session two, again individuals, saw Cheshire take on Oriel for the first time. Once again a good performance from Cheshire, as the session ended with the points shared at 8 apiece. Session three was Pembroke v Oriel and this finished 10-6 to the team from Ireland. So after the first round of games the teams were very closely matched.
Next up came the Rinks sessions. First was Cheshire versus Pembroke. This proved to be a tough session for Cheshire as Pembroke made a very strong start and by the half-way point in the games they held an aggregate lead of 22 shots. Cheshire never clawed this deficit back and the Welsh team managed to close out the session taking five of the six rinks, meaning a session victory by 11 points to 1. Oriel then took on Pembroke in the next rinks session. This was a more closely fought affair, but Oriel finished strongly to take the session 9-3. This meant that overnight Oriel held a slender lead going into day two.
Day two started with the final rinks session between Cheshire and Oriel. Cheshire changed all but one of the rinks and for a while this seemed to work, Cheshire putting up a much stronger challenge. However the games got away from us again and the session ended 10.5-1.5 to Oriel. It was a long way back now!
The final round of individuals once again saw Oriel beat Pembroke, then Cheshire replicated the result from day one beating the Welsh side 12-4. The final match of the weekend was between Cheshire and Oriel. Cheshire again had a strong session, taking it 9-7. All this meant that Oriel were champions, Cheshire second and Pembroke third. Cheshire finished the weekend winning three from four individuals and drawing one. The rinks proved costly!
Overall a fantastic weekend of competition between three great teams, and Oriel proved to be worthy winners. The event was played in great spirit and the venue was superb as usual. Thanks must go to Lowton High School for their fantastic hospitality over the weekend, we hope to be back there in three years time!