Devon remain in the BICC promotion mix, but it's close

IT’S going to be a close finish to their British Inter County Championship campaign, but Devon are still in the mix, with two matches remaining, after a win by the narrowest of margins away at Cambridgeshire.

Devon Ladies B showed once again why they top their table with a resounding 5-1 victory, which began with a 3-2 win for Cat Callarrd (19.10), and included a 15-darter that she finished with a kill of 130.

Sarah Brown (17.68), Hayley Brant (13.66) and Karen Matthews (17.48) all won in three straight legs before Kelly-Marie Gabriel (18.90) triumphed 3-1 to lay down a solid foundation.

There were only two Devon wins from the first six sets of the Men’s B fixture as Cambridgeshire drew level at 6-6.

Kieran Burns (27.21) emerged a 4-1 winner, aided by a 15-darter which he finished with a checkout of 146 before Liam Goyne (25.86) secured a similar winning scoreline, taking the final leg in 15 having hit a brace of maximums, before Antony Moss (23.59) halted the slide.

He was pushed the full distance but took the decisive seventh leg in 17 for a comprehensive victory before another non-productive lull saw Devon lose three on the bounce.

Some pride was restored though when Neil White (22.48) won the penultimate set 4-1, taking the fifth leg in 15, before Lee Hellings (20.24) won in four straight legs which included an 18-darter which he finished with a kill of 110.

Those last two points, enabled Devon to finish the first day 10-8 in front before the Ladies’ A side picked up the gauntlet and defeated their rivals 4-2, despite losing the first two sets.

With the overall score at 10-10, Jodie Hawton (18.24) edged Devon back in front with a 3-1 success before Maria O’Brien (23.81) won by the same scoreline, having taken the decisive fourth leg in 15.

Lisa Hughes (18.65) was taken the full distance but won 3-2 before Merryl Dennis (24.25) produced a lady-of-the-match performance, coming from a leg down to win 3-1, clinching the fourth in 18 when finishing at the first time of asking from 113.

Devon now boasted a 14-10 advantage but that scoreline disappointingly moved on to 16-16 when the visitors could muster only two points from the first eight of the Men’s A fixture.

Keelan Kay (23.51), at 17 years of age, held his nerve to deliver a 4-1 victory and Dave Matthews (23.62) was also prominent despite having to go the full distance.

All square with four to play, Danny Allen (26.29) (pictured) gave his side the fillip they needed when he emerged a 4-2 winner, which began with him winning the first in 14, before checking out from 103 to edge 2-1 in front.

Mark Shears (23.65) followed by churning out a gutsy 4-3 performance before the winning point was attained by Paul Milford (24.92).

It was not his best victory of the season, but it was a very important victory, as Devon lost the last point, but a 19-17 win had been sealed.

Devon are now in fourth spot, eight points behind leaders Cornwall but only two points behind Dorset who currently hold the second promotion spot.

Devon’s next fixture, which will be played over the weekend of March 30/31, will see them entertain Gwent, a side who are trying to stave off the threat of relegation.

A big win is a must in order to keep their promotion hopes alive before they face table-toppers Cornwall in the last fixture of the campaign.

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