It was definitely a case of ‘thunderbolt and lightning’ at the Welsh Junior Merit at Benllech on Sunday 27th May.
Deputy President, Dave Mathias was our host with Referees DT Evans, Arthur Peake and Alan Davies.
This year we had a smaller number of entries than previous occasions with a field of 24 players from across North Wales.
The weather was blustery with light rain as the games got underway in the preliminary round. As the rain eased and everyone settled down for the competition, the following names went through to the last 16 – Ben Hewitt, Ieuan Pugh, Harry Lawton, James Todd, Nathan Lacey, Mathew Worden, C Parry and Zack Hayward. These would be joined by Sam Williams, J Hall, Finley Hornbury, Jo Hayes, Jess Lacey, Hedd Owen, Keira Edwards and Cody Edwards.
In round two, Ben Hewitt met Ieuan Pugh. Ieuan set up a good lead of 13-8 before Ben regained the jack to pick up a few more points. Ieuan was not going to give up his lead and won the game 21-18.
One of the closest games was Jess Lacey against Hedd Owen. Both players played the green well and Jess began to nudge ahead 14-12. She stretched her lead to 18-15 before Hedd pulled level at 20 across. It was going to be heart breaking for one of them as the final end had to be a measure. Hedd was just in.
Also squaring up were two seasoned players, Harry Lawton and James Todd. Some highly accurate striking in the early part of the game by James kept the lid on Harry’s skills. At the mid stage of the game, it was very close.
At this point, Mother Nature decided to intervene with a thunderstorm. After only a few minutes, the green was pooled in places. Lightning forced the players and everyone else to take shelter. The down pour eased slightly, and it was hoped that play could be resumed. Club groundsmen, members and spectators helped to disperse water from the green, but it was only a lull before more thunder and lightning. After almost an hour it looked no better and news reached Benllech that there was more heading our way. Reluctantly a joined decision by players, parents, officials and green keepers meant the 2018 Junior merit would need to be abandoned at this stage.
On July 1st, the remaining competitors from this abandoned championship gathered together at Benllech to resume play. The weather couldn’t have been more different from that at the start of the tournament five weeks ago.
There were three games to finish from last time. James Todd and Harry Lawton’s game had finished 18-14 to James. Play resumed, and Harry edged back to 18-17 before James tied the game up with a 21-17 win. Ieuan Pugh was already through. Cerys Parry met Zac Heywood, both of them finding the dry fast conditions a challenge. Zac won the game 21-14. Matty Worden faced Nathan Lacey and won his game 21-12.
In the next round, Sam Williams stormed away to win his match 21-4 leaving Finley Hornbury and the rest of us dazed.
The remaining girl in the competition, Keira Edwards had an excellent game with Hedd and beat him 21-10. This brought her the Wales Junior Ladies title for 2018 and qualifies her to represent Wales at the British Junior Ladies competition next month.
James Todd met Ieuan Pugh. James was down at the start but managed to edge his way back to win the game 21-17. Matty Worden took a commanding lead over Zac Heywood right from the start and won his game 21-3. Keira played Sam Williams in an excellent game. Sam managed to stay ahead, but only just, and won the game 21-16. Sam was through to another final.
Matty Worden met James Todd in the second semi final. Both managed to keep the other from getting too far ahead with some excellent bowling. Matty playing some really tricky marks just to the crown and over. When James got the block, he pushed his opponent into the corners. Matty eventually won 21-16.
The final between Sam and Matty treated the spectators to some brilliant bowling. This is only Matty’s second appearance in the Welsh Junior Merit. Sam, who looked as though he meant business all day, was looking for his third title. Both players had mastered the green well and there was little in it at the start. Each player changing the length as he took control of the jack. Sam, however stayed just in the lead all the way, and gained his hat trick of three successive wins 21-16.
Wales Junior Ladies Winner, Keira Edwards
Winner Sam Williams and VP Dave Mathias