Battling Wales fall just short
THE Welsh Men's Under-25 team performed admirably at Newport in the Junior Home International Series but finished in third place after narrow defeats to Scotland and England.
Wales started well against Scotland to lead by four shots after the opening quarter but by halfway Scotland had taken a 12-shot lead before going on to win 82-63.
Wales returned one winning rink when Gareth Rees (Swansea), Dale McCarthy (Port Talbot), Jarrad Breen (Rhondda) and Paul Taylor (Ogwr) edged out Brian Irvine 21-20.
The other two Welsh rinks skipped by Mark Thomas and Ross Owen struggled and were beaten by Colin Taggart and Callum Logan.
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Wales went into their second match against Ireland knowing that nothing less than a handsome victory would suffice if they were to challenge for the title and all was going well when they led by 13 shots after the opening quarter and then 15 shots at halfway.
Wales still looked on course for a comfortable win when they increased their advantage to 17 shots at the 15-end mark before Ireland got back to within four shots.
But Wales held on for an 84-76 victory.
The Wales rink of Tom Jones (Islwyn), Nicky Collins (Port Talbot), Dan Salmon (Cardiff) and Mark Thomas (Rhondda) top-scored with a 30-10 win against Gary Kelly and Taylor's four won their second match of the series with a 22-14 win against Andrew Coleman.
The rink of Damien Doubler were edged out by a shot against Simon Colvin. Ross Owen's four were beaten 30-11 by Andrew Duncan.
The final session saw Wales take on England and in a very entertaining game, England came back from a six-shot deficit after 19 ends to win a thrilling contest 71-70.
The Wales quartet of Joe Mower, Joe Dennis, Nicky Collins and Ross Owen were in inspired form as they defeated Wayne Willgress 26-10, but although the remaining rinks battled gamely they all just fell short as England secured their seventh title.
Scotland finished in second place after beating Ireland 89-76.
England's Under-25 ladies' team made it a double success when they won the triangular event at Bromsgrove.
England defeated Wales 92-51 and Wales were found wanting in their second match as Scotland beat them 86-46.
The final match of the series was a real thriller with England scoring seven shots without reply across the green on the final end to take the title with a 67-63 victory against Scotland.
Swansea's second string were involved in a top-of-the-table Merit Table match against Merthyr at Beaufort Road, and the home side came out on top with a 138-87 victory.
Swansea started the better to lead by 11 shots after the opening quarter and they were 17 shots to the good at halfway, before dominating the second half of the contest.
The Swansea quartet of Ivor Morgan, Paul Demery, Roy Noel and Steve Norwood were in fine form as they top-scored with a 29-7 win against Brian Taylor and the home side secured four further successes skipped by Phill Abbott, Clive Davies, Arnie James and Allan Dempster.
Merthyr responded with a 17-16 win for Paul Davies against Mike Pearce but it was Swansea who took the honours to go back to the top of the table.