"I am a Norfolk man and Glory in being so." Horatio Nelson

Josh & Cookie on another level

The Finals Night of the Bure Pairs Championships were hosted by Windows and the evening turned out to be the Josh & Cookie Show as the Halvergate pair put on a superb display of short mat bowls to lift the title. Keith Cooke has been one of Norfolk’s most successful skips in recent years and his unflappable nature and sheer consistency made life difficult for his opponents throughout the evening. Certainly having Josh Baxter as lead gave him a huge advantage over the other pairs on the night. A wasted wood was as rare as hens teeth when Josh Baxter was on the mat and all that spectators could do was marvel at the sheer talent that this young man possessors. It is a crying shame that for various reasons the Norfolk County Team have been deprived of his breath taking talent, it is almost like Josh Baxter was born to be a short mat bowler. Whether he was drawing to the jack, putting in a positional wood or sinking the jack into the ditch he never looked as though he would fail to produce the perfect bowl. One can only hope that the day will come soon when he again makes himself available for Norfolk duty. As in the previous night’s Bure Triples event it was once again an all Halvergate final with Josh Baxter & Keith Cooke facing Jason Woods and David Lamb with David having just arrived back from representing England in the World Championships in Sweden. The first end was decided by the last bowl of the end played by Keith Cooke who took shot for a 1-0 lead. On the second end Jason Woods was forced into attack mood and ditched the jack but the bowl and jack went in different directions. This gave Cooke the opportunity to draw two perfect bowls to the ditch line. David Lamb attacked Cooke’s bowls but was only able to remove one and Baxter & Cooke moved 2-0 up. Josh Baxter put Jason Woods under pressure yet again on the third end with three superbly drawn bowls. Woods responded well though but Keith Cooke’s first bowl gave the advantage back to his pairing. David Lamb then attacked and put the jack off the mat. A tight replayed end saw Baxter & Cooke take another single to move 3-0 up. The fourth end followed the now familiar pattern of Baxter drawing in with machine like accuracy forcing Jason Woods to attack with varying degrees of success. When David Lamb stepped up to play his first bowl of the end he was three shots down but he saved the day with two super woods to cut the deficit to 3-2. The roles were reversed on the fifth end as Jason Woods drew in three excellent woods and it was Keith Cooke under pressure for once. Cooke retrieved the situation with a brilliant last wood to move 4-2 up. The sixth end saw Jason Woods kill the end once again under pressure from Josh Baxter. On the replayed end Baxter & Cooke took another shot as Lamb failed to retrieve the situation with a heavy last bowl. The following end saw Woods & Lamb forced to attack yet again and the unfortunate result was another killed end costing them three shots. With the end now in sight there was to be no way back for them as Josh Baxter & Keith Cooke became the new Bure Pairs Champions. In the semi-finals Baxter & Cooke had beaten Hevingham’s David Sharpe & Steve Hall 6-5 in a tight game that had seen the Hevingham pair 2-0 up after two ends. The Hevingham pair missed a couple of opportunities during the game that could have seen them spring a surprise and they will know that this was a game they could have won. In the other semi-final Jason Woods & David Lamb cruised to a 15-2 win against Woodbastwick’s Derek Sheldrake & David Brawn. The quarter-finals saw Baxter & Cooke beat fellow Halvergate players David Knights & Simon Warnes by 10-1 wrecking Warnes’ hopes of adding the pairs title to the triples he had won the night before. Jason Woods & David Lamb had looked to be on their way out in the quarter-finals trailing 5-0 against East Tuddenham’s Elaine & Simon Willies after three ends but recovered to snatch a 7-6 win with a single on the last end. The other quarter-final results saw David Sharpe & Steve Hall beat Thorpe Marriott’s Kath Frost & Richard Perkins 7-4 and Woodbastwick’s David Brawn & Derek Sheldrake beat Thorpe Marriott’s Mandy Marshall & Ted Redwood 7-6 after trailing 6-1 with three ends to go.      

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