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Gritty win keeps Larne in hunt

By David Mason

Published 06/07/2015

Rub of green: action from the NIBA match between Willowfield and Pickie at Gibson Park, Belfast
Rub of green: action from the NIBA match between Willowfield and Pickie at Gibson Park, Belfast

Battling Larne are determined to hold on to the tails of runaway Private Greens League Division One leaders Old Bleach.

Even though the Randalstown boys stretched their lead at the top of the table to three-and-a-half points going into the summer break, Larne fought out an epic encounter at home to Belmont at the weekend to keep them in the hunt for the big prize.

The teams finished level (79-79), but crucially, Larne pocketed four-and-a-half points - a result that has perhaps killed off Belmont's lingering hopes of lifting the title for the first time since 2003 as they are now 10 points adrift.

"It keeps us in a good position," said Larne's Paul Robinson. "Old Bleach are obviously they form team. They are unbeaten in the league so far.

"But we are tucked in nicely behind them. We have a couple of big games coming up. All we can do is take one game at a time."

The East Antrim lads held their nerve when it mattered over the latter stages with Andy Kyle edging a tense 20-18 win against Terry Crawford. David McRandal and Michael Murphy also made a significant contribution by beating Roy Battersby (25-24) and Robin Horner (18-16).

The Belmont duo, of course, were were part of the side that won the British Isles Senior Fours Championship in Scotland last weekend. The visitors' replied through Stuart Bennett, who registered a 21-16 win against Alan McLean.

But there is just no stopping the in-form Bleach Boys at the minute. Ulster Transport became the latest team to buckle under their charge with James Talbot, Johnny Millar and Neil Booth all racking up rink wins to guarantee another haul of points.

It could have been even better only for Mark Trew's impressive 28-16 success against Michael Nutt. Former international Booth was the home team's top performer. He skipped his rink to a whopping 41-10 win against Rodney Fiddis.

Miller wasn't far behind as he demolished Billy Johnston 32-12, while Talbot defeated Billy Faulkner 21-16.

Results, NI Private Greens League Division One: Larne 79 (4.5) Belmont 79 (4.5), Willowfield 60 (1.5) Pickie 80 (5.5), Ards 72 (2) Dunbarton 86 (5), Old Bleach 106 (6) Ulster Transport 66 (1), Ewarts 75 (1) Ballymena 82 (6).

Northern Ireland Bowling Association Division One: Divis 74 (7) Lurgan 62 (0), Bangor 91 (6) Balmoral 65 (1), Lisnagarvey 54 (0.5) Whitehead 73 (6.5), Carrick 72 (2.5) Banbridge 79 (4.5), Portadown 70 (5) Dundonald 68 (2).

NI Provincial Bowling Association Senior League: Letterkenny 56 (1) Cookstown 102 (6), Dunluce 92 (7) Limavady 67 (0), Portrush 128 (7) Ballycastle 37 (0), Ballymoney 103 (7) Portglenone 37 (0), City of Derry 52 (0) Coleraine 96 (7).

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