JOHN Gurney almost achieved what he had set out on finals day at the British Senior Individual Merit on Saturday.

The Northwich bowler wanted to reach the last 16 for the first time on his sixth appearance at the annual showpiece – referred to by bowlers as the ‘All England’ championships.

And he was on course to do exactly that after establishing a 9-4 lead against Simon Coupe (North Lancs & Fylde) in their second-round encounter at Grange Sports and Social Club in Warrington.

However a break of six from his opponent, a runner-up in this competition in 2007, prompted a decisive shift in momentum.

Gurney, a regular for Castle in the Mid-Cheshire Bowling Association, remained in contention at 12-across before Coupe scored another four chalks without reply.

He went on to progress after a 21-16 win.

Gurney had begun the day in impressive fashion on a number two green left heavy by a torrential downpour that prompted a delayed start.

He was always in control against Ross Dunkley (Warwick & Worcester) and treated a large crowd to a stylish finish when he threaded his second wood through the smallest of gaps before it stopped closest to the jack – securing a comfortable 21-12 victory.

It meant he was the only Cheshire representative to reach the last 32 after Gerald Merry and Tommy Johnstone, who won the county merit last month, suffered defeats to Dan Varcoe (Cumbria) and Ryan Clark (South Yorkshire) respectively.

Johnstone, who lifted the trophy back in 2002, had been rated an 8/1 shot to match that feat beforehand.

Chris Mordue used a victory against 2009 winner Callum Wraight in his opener as the catalyst for a run that ended with a 21-14 success against Wayne Ditchfield (North Lancs & Fylde) in the final.

The Yorkshire ace also took the scalps of Merseyside Merit winner Danny Barwise and Coupe, Gurney’s conqueror, along the way.

Results (selected)

British Senior Individual Merit

Saturday, July 28

At Grange Sports and Social Club

Last 64

John Gurney (Cheshire, Castle) 21-12 Ross Dunkley (Warwick & Worcester)

Tommy Johnstone (Cheshire, Houldsworth WMC) 17-21 Ryan Clark (South Yorkshire)

Gerald Merry (Cheshire, Delamere) 13-21 Dan Varcoe (Cumbria)

Last 32

John Gurney (Cheshire, Castle) 16-21 Simon Coupe (North Lancs & Fylde)

To see all the results from Saturday in full, click here