The 2024 Welsh Individual Senior Merit competition took place on Sunday 23rd June. This year it was held at Coedpoeth BC, our President’s Club, and their Centenary year.

President, Pauline Lindley hosted the day with other members of the WCGBA. The guests included the BCGBA President Frank James.

The weather was perfect and we all looked forward to some great matches. We were not disappointed. At least half the field were past Welsh Junior squad players and five previous winners of the Gwyn Morris Trophy, as the competition is also called.

Round one, and most of the games were evenly matched, with no clear advantage to any of the pairings. Francis Penlington was first off the green winning 21-16 against Chris Slater. Other good results included those of Jason Jones, Nathan Lacey, Joe Pritchard and John Bailey. The best wins of the round were Barry Harris’s 21-5 against Geraint Jones and 21-11 to Steffan Williams and Matty Worden.

In the second round we had Chris Charlton with a 21-9 win, John Bailey 21-13 and Francis 21-14. Other matches had much closer outcomes with Joe Pritchard’s win  of 21-20 over Nick Jones, a particularly good game to watch. Matty Worden also had a close call but finally beat Andy Riley 21=19.

In the Quarter finals, there seemed to be no halting Francis as he went on to win 21-8 against Bryn Hughes. Barry Harris and Joe had a closer game with Barry coming out on top 21-19. Robin Bennett, in his match with John Bailey, played some of the best bowls of the day. He beat John 21-15. Chris Charlton also qualified for the Semi finals.

In his match with Barry Harris, Francis didn’t get off to a great start and was 11-5 down. Robin also struggled against Chris Charlton who soon went 12-2 up. Eventually, Francis recalled his earlier form and went onto win 21-18. Robin was not so lucky and Chris qualified for the final with a 21-10 win.

In the final, Francis won the toss to lead away. At no time did he allow Chris to take the lead. Chris pulled back to go level at 7 across, and 18 across. This was everything a final should be and at 20 across it was anybody’s guess. With an outward calm, Francis was not inclined to let go and won 21-20. Having recently won the WCGBA Vet’s Merit, he is going to need a bigger mantelpiece.

Our five qualifiers for the BCGBA Merit Final will be Francis, Chris, Robin, Barry and Bryn Hughes.