Bowls aces capture national glory

Darby Thomas, Kira Donno, Jo Watt and Emma Cooper helped the Sussex under-31 women's team win a national title for the first time
Darby Thomas, Kira Donno, Jo Watt and Emma Cooper helped the Sussex under-31 women's team win a national title for the first time

Four local bowlers are celebrating winning a national title with the Sussex under-31 women’s team.

Darby Thomas (Polegrove), Kira Donno (Sidley Martlets), Jo Watt (Polegrove) and Emma Cooper (Battle) were part of the Sussex team which won the Bowls England Amy Rose Trophy, supported by the Friends of English Bowling.

Having only ever reached the final once before in 2004 when they were runners-up, Sussex defeated 2013 finalists Surrey in the final at Victoria Park, Royal Leamington Spa.

After receiving a bye in the first round, Sussex’s journey started with a really tough match against Somerset A in round two on Saturday morning which they narrowly won 44-42.

Leicestershire proved to be easier opponents in the quarter-finals later the same day and Sussex enjoyed a comfortable 48-11 win to put them into the last four.

In the semi-finals on Sunday morning, Sussex were up against Hertfordshire and a 40-30 victory set up the final against Surrey, who saw off Kent 43-22 in the other semi-final tie.

Despite going into the final as underdogs, the whole Sussex team played brilliantly. Led by the two skips, Worthing-based internationals Sian Honnor and Lorraine Kuhler, Sussex were inspired and never took their foot off the pedal. A very strong Surrey team conceded after 17 ends trailing 47-21.

Sussex - who are managed by Denise Hodd - reached the semi-finals last year before narrowly losing to eventual winners Devon.