Spalding IBC duo Ruby and Chelsea impress as England retain their title

Spalding Indoor Bowls Club’s Ruby Hill and Chelsea Tomlin both played a big part as England retained the Clara Johns Trophy over the weekend.

Between Friday and Sunday, the Spalding duo represented England in the senior international series, which took place at Falcon Indoor Bowls Club in Chelmsford.

Hill was selected at lead with Laura Holden, Stefanie Branfield (both Clevedon) and Michelle Coleman (St. Neots), while Tomlin was picked at number two with Susan Kearsley (Blackpool), Katy Baxter and Danielle Martinson (both Hornsea).

The first game for England saw them face arguably the weakest of the four countries, Ireland on the Friday afternoon.

Scotland already had beaten 140-107 Wales in the morning game, so – as the host country – England were hoping to stamp their authority early in the series which they did emphatically.

They were in control throughout, winning on all six rinks and by an incredible 120 shots (179-59).

Hill’s rink won 22-13 against Ireland’s highly rated Chloe Watson whilst Tomlin’s rink won 17-14 against a rink skipped by Dessa Baird.

The next game of the series saw England face what would undoubtedly be a tougher test against Wales on the Saturday morning.

Wales, attempting to bounce back after their defeat against Scotland, were certainly out to try and cause an upset but England finished the stronger of the two countries to win 117-106.

Hill’s rink lost a close encounter 17-18 against a set skipped by Kelly Packwood, while Tomlin’s rink came up against an in-form Welsh outfit skipped by Denise Molan, eventually losing 11-25.

The damage for England was caused by the rink skipped by Lorraine Kuhler, who won their rink 30-8.

In the afternoon game, Scotland had just as an emphatic a victory against Ireland, winning 177-49.

That set up a winner-takes-all clash on the Sunday afternoon between auld enemies England and Scotland.

Changes to the England team saw both a change of personnel and formation in Tomlin’s rink.

HONOUR: Colin Wilson.

Blackpool’s Kearsley and Hornsea’s Baxter were left out of the team for the Scotland game to allow room for reserves, current national under-25 singles champion Devon

Cooper (from Riverain) in at lead and current national mixed pairs and mixed fours champion Harriett Stevens (from Exonia) in at number two. Tomlin was promoted to play number three to Martinson.

The warm up game for the spectators saw Wales defeat Ireland 149-102 before England and Scotland took to the green for the series decider in the afternoon.

In a match where the momentum was going to swing one way and then the other, Scotland started the stronger but the England girls soon bounced back and raced into a big lead by the half way stage.

And, despite a slight comeback by the spirited Scotland side, England eventually won 121-102.

Hill’s rink lost 14-21 against an in-form set skipped by Scotland’s Lorraine Craig.

However, Tomlin’s new look team secured top winning rink on the day, beating Scotland’s former world mixed pairs champion Claire Johnston, 24-11, to help clinch the win.

Some further Lincolnshire interest saw Lincoln’s Penny Strong win the title of player of the series. Congratulations also go to Spalding’s Colin Wilson, who umpired the series for the first time.

Next up at Falcon IBC is the British Isles Championships which involves Spalding IBC’s Matt Whyers, Graham Smith, Martin Spencer and Mathew Orrey in the men’s fours along with Hill and Tomlin in the ladies’ pairs.

On conclusion of the championships, the men’s England team take to the green for the senior international series.

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