John returns to the fold and is top Mann in Devon win
DEVON had the best possible start to their 2018-19 British Inter County Championship campaign when they won their opening match against visitors Notttinghamshire.
Relegated from the top-flight last season, Devon are hoping to return at the first time of asking and this victory was a good fillip for continued progress.
They had the perfect start when a strong Devon Ladies’ B side won their encounter 6-0.
Cat Callard (18.90), Jodie Hawton (20.67) and Sarah Brown (18.18) lost the first leg of their matches, but all won 3-1 before Lisa Hughes (19.27) emerged a 3-0 winner.
TOP AVERAGE: John Mann's average of 31.31 was not bettered by any other player in division one of the British Inter County Championships.
Tracy Ware (14.29) and Karen Matthews (17.56) were both taken the full- distance but both won the decisive fifth leg to complete the rout.
That wonderful start was unfortunately undone however, when the Men’s B team crashed to a 9-3 defeat.
Scott Hutchinson (25.40) impressed when grinding out a 4-3 victory while the only other winners were Mike Pearce (21.78) and Thom Humphrey (24.44) who both emerged 3-0 winners.
The two teams began the second day of competition all square at 9-9 but it was the Devon ladies again who were prominent when they won their A match encounter 5-1.
Karen Gabriel (19.03) and Hayley Brant (17.28) clinched the first two points without dropping a leg followed by two 3-2 successes from Anna Johnson (19.33) and lady of the match Merryl Dennis (22.13) before Chrissie Kinnaird (18.71) triumphed 3-1.
With Devon leading 14-10, Paul Milford (27.09) opened the Men's A encounter with a 4-2 win and although the visitors levelled, Ben Chamberlain (25.77) also won 4-2 before Glyn Wells (30.83) emerged a 4-1 winner, claiming all four legs in16 darts.
The one leg that eluded him was won in 15 by his opponent Paul Harvey who finished with an outshot of 106.
Devon then lost their way when they were defeated in three of the next four but John Mann (31.31), back in the fold after several seasons with cross-Tamar rivals Cornwall, did not disappoint.
He won 4-0 in 15, 15, 17 and 17 and not only did his performance win him the man of the match award, his average was the highest from all the division one matches on the day.
Mann’s victory ensured that Devon got at least a draw, but they did better than that and ran out 20-16 winners after Dave Witt (24.21) and Keelan Kay (26.72), who was making his A team debut at just 16-years of age, won 4-1 and 4-0 respectively.
This was a very encouraging opening victory and Devon will be hoping to replicate that form in just over a week’s time when they play away at Hertfordshire, who also won their first match when defeating London 24-15.