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

Fine performances from Norfolk pairs in Nationals

After a disappointing first day of the National Championships for Norfolk in the singles it was the turn of the four qualifying Norfolk pairs to take to the mats seeking National success. Chris Mann of Wymondham and Laura Hawksworth of Deaf Sports were playing as Norfolk 1, Morgan Warnes of Horsford BC and Gary Best of Bob Carter as Norfolk 2, Simon Warnes of Horsford BC and Keith Cooke of Halvergate as Norfolk 3 and Kerry Greenacre, individually registered, and David Blundell of Wortwell as Norfolk 4. Norfolk Pairs Champions Chris Mann & Laura Hawksworth reeled off three straight wins to finish top of Group 5. They beat Suffolk’s Bob Cousins & Colin Sharpe 9-7, Devon’s John & Shirley Parnell by 13-8 and Brian McGiven & Alan Spicer of Hertfordshire by 12-6 to reach the first knock-out round. Morgan Warnes & Gary Best were drawn in Group 1 and suffered an early set-back losing 12-3 to Paul Clegg & Matty Worden of Cheshire. They recovered well though beating Glenn Broderick & David Gulver of Essex by 16-3 and Lyn Woodsford & Carol Nethercott of Wiltshire by 11-5 to finish in the second qualifying spot in their group. The news was less good from the other groups which included Norfolk pairs. Simon Warnes & Keith Cooke beat Fred Pearson & Ed Sawbridge of Northants 13-2 but lost by 9-8 to Gareth Davies & Roger Wiggins of Oxfordshire and by 9-6 to Robert Edwards & Terry Osgood of Surrey and were eliminated. It was worse news from Group 7 where Kerry Greenacre & David Blundell went down by 14-8 against Chris Page & Charlotte Rollings of West Sussex in their first game. That was followed by a 16-2 loss to Lee Toleman & Lawrence Moffat of North Yorks and a 10-5 defeat against Nigel Froud & John Loran of East Sussex which left them at the foot of their group. In the first knock-out round for the thirty-two surviving pairs, Chris Mann & Laura Hawksworth found themselves up against the West Mids pairing of Callum Mitchell & Liam Lowery. A good performance saw the Norfolk pair win 10-8 and earn a place in the last 16. They were joined by the pair they beat in the final of the Norfolk County Pairs, Morgan Warnes & Gary Best, who enjoyed an excellent 18-4 win against Paul Bax & Dave Woods of Essex. Both Norfolk pairs found themselves facing stiff competition in the next round. Chris Mann & Laura Hawksworth were up against Gareth Davies & Roger Wiggins of Oxfordshire. Davies & Wiggins were part of the Oxfordshire triple that lifted the National Triples title in 2015 and Roger Wiggins was National Singles champion in 2014 and National Fours champ in 2011. Morgan Warnes & Gary Best’s next opponents were Ryan Knight & Ollie Hipkiss of Gloucestershire. Ryan Knight was National Singles champion in 2015 and also won the National Triples title last season. But both Norfolk pairs were now on a roll and determined to reach the quarter-finals and reach them they did as Mann & Hawksworth beat the Oxfordshire pair by 10-7 and Warnes & Best beat the Gloucestershire pairing by 11-5. Next in the sights of Chris Mann & Laura Hawksworth were Paul Clegg & Matty Worden of Cheshire while Morgan Warnes & Gary Best were playing Alex Kley & Tom Perris of Dorset. Also raised now was the possibility of an all Norfolk final as if both pairs won they would avoid each other in the semi-finals. Unfortunately though it was not to be as the quarter-finals would signal the exit of both Norfolk pairs. Chris Mann & Laura Hawksworth’s great run came to an end against the Cheshire pair who beat them by 11-4 and Morgan Warnes & Gary Best also saw their hopes of a National pairs title fade as they lost by just 7-5 to the Dorset pairing. Never-the-less both pairs can be pleased with their performances on the day although naturally disappointed after getting so close. The eventual winners were Paul Clegg & Matty Worden of Cheshire who beat Nigel Nicholls & James Smith of Cornwall 11-6 in the final.