DEVON produced an emphatic showing when they entertained Northamptonshire in the British Inter County Championships at the Heavitree Social Club, Exeter, over the weekend and in producing one of their highest ever victories, have climbed out of the relegation zone of the premier division to fifth place, just three points behind third placed Glamorgan.
The two B teams produced one of their best ever performances, if not the best, and finished the opening day 15-3 in front and the selectors must have also been elated with the style of victory, notably in the Men’s success when five of the players won with an average greater than 25.15.
The ladies laid down the foundations with a 5-1 victory and had Tracy Ware (18.93) putting the first point on the board when winning 3-1, aided by a leg in 17.
Sarah Brown (15.47) also won 3-1 while there were 3-0 victories for both Cat Callard (14.05) and Anna Johnson (17.89), either side of a lady-of-the-match performance from Hayley Brant (19.38) who emerged a 3-2 winner, aided by two 19 darters.
The visitors took the opening point of the Men’s B fixture, but it wasn’t until the 10th set that they got another.
Anthony Moss (26.50) went 3-0 up, only to be pegged back to 3-3 before winning the seventh and decisive leg in 18 and Martyn Bevan (25.16) followed with a 4-1 success before Danny Bull (24.93) came from 2-0 down to win 4-3.
Steve Colbourne (22.77) won 4-0 followed by a 4-3 victory for Adrian Watts (26.68) whose best legs were won in 15 and 16.
Kieran Burns (19.27) won without dropping a leg while Daniel Belsten (24.69) emerged a 4-2 winner, claiming the final leg in 14.
Fred Goldsmith (23.93) was taken the full distance before he checked out from 100 in two darts followed by a man-of-the-match performance from Ben Chamberlain (28.63) who won 4-0 in 19, 17, 19 and 15.
Northamptonshire won the penultimate point even though Phil Ward returned a 27.04 average before Dave Matthews (27.08) emerged a 4-0 winner with his best games being taken in 15 and 13.
Could that form be maintained? Well the Ladies A team answered that question with a brilliant 6-0 win, all players with an average above 19.00 and for the first time in their history, Devon won the match when Kelly-Marie Gabriel (21.46) secured the 19th point with two more ladies singles and the Men’s A team still to play.
Maria O’Brien (24.64) started the second day with a lady-of-the-match performance, winning 3-0 in 22, 19 and 20 followed by another win in three straight legs from Karen Matthews (19.03).
Jodie Hawton (19.50) emerged a 3-1 winner, aided by an 18-darter which she finished with a kill of 134 before Chrissie Kinnaird (19.27) and Lisa Hughes (19.41) made it a clean sweep when winning 3-0 and 3-1 respectively.
Devon were now leading 21-3 and Neil White (25.01) added to that terrific scoreline when he won the opener of the Men’s A fixture 4-1.
The visitors then got a point on the board before Mark Vellacott (23.33) came from 2-1 down to win 4-2.
Credit must go to Northamptonshire who were still rallying, and they won four of the next five, divided by a 4-1 win from John Mann (27.24) in 17, 18, 17 and 19.
With Devon leading 24-8, Mike Pearce (22.95) put in a determined effort from 3-1 down to win 4-3 followed by an excellent performance from Thom Humphrey (28.88) (pictured) who won 4-2 in 19, 13, 18 and 14 on what was his 75th appearance in a county shirt.
Paul Milford (30.83) put in another solid showing to claim the man-of-the-match award when winning 4-0 in 16, 16, 14 and 19 before Lewis Dare (23.72) came from a 2-0 deficit to win 4-2 claiming an overall 28-8 Devon victory.
This was an excellent showing by the entire squad and hopefully they will be able to build on this when they travel to Hampshire over the weekend of January 18/19.