Oxfordshire face an uphill task to progress in the Middleton Cup after losing their opening match 115-109 against Middlesex at Oxford City & County.
Too many of the Oxon team failed to show anywhere near their best form as they lost out on points 18-4 in the South Group Section B clash.
Captain Alan Prew and Carterton clubmate Paul Sharman guided their rinks to victory by 22 and four shots respectively over Phil Sutcliffe and Norman Worley.
However, Oxon’s four other rinks all lost. Despite being below par, Oxfordshire led 58-44 at ten ends with Prew, Sharman and the third Carterton skip, Baden Sparkes, all opening up leads.
But it was the third quarter of the game that made the difference with Middlesex picking up 41 shots to Oxon’s 18.
They dominated the home team in terms of general play, and with conversion shots all seemingly getting premium results, they went into the final ends with a lead that they held on to despite an Oxfordshire rally.
Sam Watts made a solid debut, but was unable to stop Oxon sliding to defeat
Sparkes was unlucky to lose 19-18 to Perry Cook, but the rinks of Mark Charlett, Ian Snowdon and Mark Sykes could not make an impression and all lost out by greater margins.
Sam Watts, of Watlington, making his debut at this level, had a good game at lead in Charlett’s four, who were beaten 24-12 by Ron Leleux.
And West Witney’s Kevin Alder, picking up his third game flash, also played well at No 2 in Snowdon’s side, who lost 19-12 to Paul Fuller.
Nevertheless, massive all-round improvement is needed if Oxfordshire are to match the last two years and qualify for the quarter-finals.
They now have away games to come at Isle of Wight and Kent, and just one at home against Hampshire.
Oxfordshire 109 (4pts), Middlesex 115 (18)
(Oxon rinks first)
Rink 1: K Holloway, I Henwood, C Carpenter, A Prew 32, P Reynolds, A Frankland, B Elbourn, P Sutcliffe 10.
Rink 2: S Watts, G May, J King, M Charlett 12, R Watkinson, M Larmon, P Cater, R Leleux 24.
Rink 3: L Young, S Cooper, B Lambourne, P Sharman 23, G Adams, J Carey, J Sweeney, N Worley 19.
Rink 4: R Pink, Re Clanfield, C Whitehead, B Sparkes 18, R Fortune, T Brooks, R Hackwell, P Cook 19.
Rink 5: D May, K Alder, N Lewis, I Snowdon 12, J Little, A Tanner, T Bracallello, P Fuller 19.
Rink 6: AJ Docherty, G Schwab, R Red-ford, M Sykes 12, C Cleaver, D Pitt, I Rudston, T Aller 24.
OXFORDSHIRE BA were pipped 128-126 by Somerset in a friendly at West Backwell BC, Bristol.
Oxon shared the rink wins, but Somerset edged home.
Somerset 128, Oxon 126 (Oxon rink scores): P Demczack, M Oliver, R Bull, A Ley won 22-19; M Jones, T Beaumont, D Wedge, I Whelpton won 27-16; S Tolhurst, P Brittin, H Franklin, J Lucas lost 18-13; B Jarvie, A Fleming, B Bloomfield, D Allin lost 27-22; M Cameron, A Melville, R Slater, J O’Shea lost 28-17; C Haley, P Monahan, B Willoughby, A Hall won 25-20.