The 28th Celtic Challenge was held at Caerleon RFC Petanque Club, Wales, on 30th April and 1st May. Four triples teams from Scotland competed against teams from Ireland and Wales A and B squads.
The teams arrived on Friday evening and were treated to a sumptuous buffet, as well as having the opportunity to try out Caerleon’s new terrain. The surface was variable, with 4 of the 8 lanes playing fast, while the other 4 were challenging with large chips, which made for difficult pointing conditions.
After the formal welcome and announcements, play commenced with the Scots pitted against Ireland, while Wales A and B locked horns. Round 1 saw Scotland and Ireland share the spoils with 2 wins each. But as the rounds progressed, Scotland upped their game, taking three wins from rounds 2 and 3 and taking 4 wins in round 4. Meanwhile, Wales B emerged with 10 wins against Wales A’s 6.
After 4 rounds the standings were:
Scotland 12, Wales B 10, Wales A 6, Ireland 4
In rounds 5 – 8 Scotland would play Wales B while Ireland were up against Wales A. Scotland continued their strong performance without dropping a game at all in round 5 and 6. Meanwhile, Wales A tooks 6 wins to Ireland’s 2, meaning at the close of play on Saturday the standings were:
Scotland 20, Wales A 12, Wales B 10, Ireland 6
It looked like Scotland might run away with the victory. The Scottish performance had been truly excellent with Scotland 1 – 4 wins, Scotland 2 – 5 wins, Scotland 3 – 6 wins and Scotland 4 – 5 wins. On to Sunday – could Scotland continue to dominate?
In rounds 7 and 8, Scotland and Wales B shared 4 wins between them, while Wales A took 6 wins to Ireland’s 2. This meant Wales A had closed the gap, but were still 6 wins behind Scotland going into the final 4 rounds. The standings after 8 rounds were:
Scotland 24, Wales A 18, Wales B 14, Ireland 8
By this time it was pretty clear that Scotland would need to amass 30 wins to secure the trophy (although 29 might be enough with points difference looking very much in Scotland’s favour). All Scotland would need to do was hold their nerve…..
Round 9 saw Wales A win 3 games to Scotland’s 1 – they were slowly but surely catching us and nerves were beginning to show in all of the Scottish teams. Round 10 was tied with 2 wins each, meaning that Wales A remained 4 games adrift with 2 rounds to play.
Round 11 saw Wales A again take 3 wins to Scotland’s 1, meaning that, going into the last round Scotland had 28 wins and Wales A had 26. By this time is was clear that Scotland’s points difference meant that if the teams were tied on 29 wins, Scotland would win. Wales had to win all 4 games.
The first 2 results from round 12 were both wins for Wales A. The teams were tied on 28 wins each with 2 games to go. Thankfully, Scotland 3 held their nerve to win convincingly and secure the trophy for Scotland. This was followed shortly by a win for Scotland 2.
The final standings were:
Scotland 30, Wales A 28, Wales B 23, Ireland 15
Congratulations to all the players. A big thank you to our hosts, Caerleon RFC Petanque Club who really did put on a great weekend.
The final tally of wins for the Scottish teams were:
Scotland 1: Christine Thomson, Alison Swiffin, Ed Strachan – 4 wins
Scotland 2: Robbie Stronach, John Wilson, Derek Adam – 7 wins
Scotland 3: Lynn Jenkins, Shirley Legge, Richard Carter – 10 wins
Scotland 4: Emma Montgomery, Paul Fletcher, Kevin Johnstone – 9 wins