Winter League leaders Boroughbridge were looking to extend their lead at the summit to four points this evening when they faced Collingham. This was the last fixture before the Christmas break and once again the table toppers arrived with a very strong quartet. Bridge captain Charlie Grasby rested himself with Simon Robinson making his first Winter League start of the campaign. He paired up with Nicola Scott whilst regulars Chantal Lancaster and Jamie Jarman were once again on show. With four members of the promotion winning Bridge team that will be looking forward to gracing Harrogate Division One next season it was going to take a high effort from Collingham . They had regulars Tony Cutler, Sally Johnson and Liz Douthwaite on duty whilst Wetherby second team men’s player Sam Moore, who resides in Collingham, kindly stepped in to make up the team this evening.
The forecast had looked grim but an upturn in conditions meant that despite temperatures falling the weather was dry and ensured the contest could proceed. Sam Moore and Sally Johnson teamed up at seed one for Collingham and faced Bridge top dogs Nicola Scott and Simon Robinson. Robinson had looked confident in the warm up and was soon translating that as the rubber began as his big hitting from deep and excellent short game meant he would be extremely difficult to beat. With Scott the ever consistent and providing excellent support the Boro duo were playing some eye catching tennis and showing why they had been so successful during the summer. Sally Johnson is a real battler on court however and as usual was giving her all to the cause. Moore was enjoying his hard hitting mini battle with Robinson and ensuring the visitors could never rest on their laurels. However true to form it was Boroughbridge who carried too much weaponry and ran out cosy 3-9 winners.
Chantel Lancaster had proudly topped the Boroughbridge summer league player standings and alongside the excellent left hander Jamie Jarman looked another strong partnership. Collingham captain Tony Cutler was joined by Liz Douthwaite and once again they provided dogged opponents. The ability to bamboozle their higher rated adversaries with some unorthodox play was certainly a useful tool but once the Bridge duo hit stride they began to show their class. Jarman was enjoying the freedom to express himself and with some lovely groundstroke play was able to build some lovely rallies which Lancaster was often able to deliver the finally killer blow. A good encounter with the visitors running out 3-9 winners which left them 6-18 ahead going into round two.
Moore and Cutler knew they would have their work cut out to keep Robinson and Jarman at bay but were certainly not going to surrender without a fight. Moore was matching the big hitting opponents and with Cutler proving difficult to read the Collingham men were giving everything. However a three division summer league gap was ultimately going to prove too hard to bridge and the visitors ran out 2-10 winners.
Sally Johnson and Liz Douthwaite have long been playing partners and would use their experience to good effect in the ladies rubber. This proved to be the highlight of the evening for Collingham and left Chantal Lancaster and Nicola Scott mightily relieved after an epic encounter. The Collingham girls were on fire as they defended with gusto and attacked with determination which left the visitors having to find extra reserves to combat. Eventually the extra consistency of the Boro ladies was to prove the difference as they managed to secure a 5-7 victory.
With the final round starting and the visitors ahead 13-35 it was just realistically pride left for the hosts. However with the cold beginning to increase Boroughbridge looked determined to close out victory and mindful of points difference were eager to turn the screw.
Johnson and Moore were able to build on their earlier debut with another promising performance against Lancaster and Jarman. They began to gain a good understanding and were rewarded with another three games as they went down 3-9. However this was an encouraging effort and against lower ranked opposition they would be a match for anyone. Fair play once more however to the Boro duo who made it often look effortless as they patiently picked off the Collingham pair with some impressive tennis.
Tony Cutler and Liz Douthwaite were also up against it as they faced Simon Robinson and Nicola Scott. Robinson was certainly enjoying his first Winter League game of the season and like a fine wine was maturing as the evening advanced. With Scott continuing to play at a high level the pair were irrestitable and with the Collingham duo running on empty the visitors showed no mercy to run out winners 1-11.
Thanks to all players this evening for braving the cold conditions and some entertaining tennis was reward for a considerable effort. Boroughbridge now extend their advantage to four points after this 17-55 success and are looking the team to catch although champions Rufforth are the only team to lower their colours and still unbeaten, remain favourites to retain their crown.
Matches resume on January 16th when Starbeck play Boston Spa in a real eye catcher with Spa looking to close the gap on the leaders although Starbeck with games in hand, will feel they are still in the hunt. Only Rufforth remain unbeaten so we can expect some more competitive action in the New Year.
Happy Christmas to everyone and see you in 2018.
Tonights winning Boroughbridge quartet were – Simon Robinson, Jamie Jarman, Chantal Lancaster and Nicola Scott.
Gallant runners up Sam Moore, Sally Johnson, Tony Cutler and Liz Douthwaite.