Oxfordshire kept their Middleton Cup hopes alive with a 121-110 win over the Isle of Wight at Shanklin.
The 15-7 points victory means that Oxon are still in with an outside chance of qualifying from South Group Section B.
But, with Hampshire, who Oxfordshire entertain at Oxford City & County on Saturday, running riot with a 60-shot win over Kent, the south coast are hot favourites for top spot.
At five ends, Oxon led by 20 shots, with four rinks opening up leads.
By ten ends the Islanders had closed to 12, but with Ian Snowdon’s rink dominating play and the fours of Mark Sykes and Alan Prew also leading, Oxfordshire still looked in a comfortable position.
However, a mixture of good play and good fortune saw the Isle of Wight push Oxon all the way with five of the six rinks settled by two shots or less.
Oxon’s Paul Sharman led early on, but his opposite number, John Crews, came back to win by 17-16.
Mark Charlett and Baden Sparkes’s rinks rallied well to draw 17-17 and lose 18-17 respectively, having held ‘game’ before the final bowls.
A seven and four picked up on consecutive ends saw Darren Griffith overtake Prew, who went down 22-20.
On the end rink, Snowdon’s four were pegged back and went into the last end a shot behind, but a great opening bowl from Dean May and a drawn second shot from the Oxon skip with the game’s final bowl secured a 24-23 victory.
Sykes’s rink of AJ Docherty, George Schwab and Richard Redford stayed in front throughout to win 27-13. Captain Alan Prew is unavailable for Saturday’s clash with Hampshire, so vice-captain Keith Holloway leads the team.
Calvin Carpenter skips in place of Prew, and Carterton’s Stuart Richens plays at No 3 in his first Middleton Cup game since 2011.
Witney Mills’s Chris Weller makes his debut at No 2 on Sparkes’s rink, replacing Remy Clanfield.
Isle of Wight 110 (7pts), Oxon 121 (15)
(Isle of Wight rinks first)
Rink 1: B Davies, R Smith, M Butchers, J Crews 17, L Young, S Cooper, B Lambourne, P Sharman 16.
Rink 2: J Wilkins, B Price, P Furmidge, D Griffith 22, K Holloway, I Henwood, C Carpenter, A Prew 20.
Rink 3: S New, P Knight, J Pearce, A Cawdell 18, R Pink, Re Clanfield, C Whitehead, B Sparkes 17.
Rink 4: R Hayes, J Marsh, T Lloyd, T Meller 17, S Watts, G May, J King, M Charlett 17.
Rink 5: M Cox, C New, S Hamblin, K Beckett 13, AJ Docherty, G Schwab, R Redford, M Sykes 27.
Rink 6: B Bridgeman, G Day, D Gustar, A Best 23, D May, K Alder, N Lewis, I Snowdon 24.
2:00pm Friday 27th February 2015
While Gary Waddock’s time in charge at Oxford United was brief, it produced one clear benefit which has helped the side this season.
1:00pm Friday 27th February 2015
NO further contract talks are expected at Oxford United until the club’s Football League status is secured.
12:04pm Friday 27th February 2015
Oxfordshire trainers Charlie Longsdon and Lawney Hill are among the panel at a Cheltenham Festival preview evening at Middleton Cheney Sports & Social Club next Thursday (7pm).
12:00pm Friday 27th February 2015
Oxford United travel to Portsmouth today - catch up on all our preview stories and video of the first league meeting between the sides
11:00am Friday 27th February 2015
GARY Waddock says he feels no bitterness towards Oxford United as he prepares to face the club for the first time since being sacked last summer.
10:52am Friday 27th February 2015
Lonodon Welsh's New Zealand World Cup winning scrum half Piri Weepu has quit London Welsh to join Aviva Premiership rivals Wasps until the end of the season.
9:20am Friday 27th February 2015
MICHAEL Appleton says there is no better place for Oxford United to win this season than Fratton Park – and it has nothing to do with his links to Portsmouth.
9:00am Friday 27th February 2015
Director of rugby Matt Williams is regretting an oversight that has cost Chinnor a place in the Oxfordshire Cup final.
9:00am Friday 27th February 2015
THERE have been plenty of changes at Oxford United since they visited Fratton Park last season, but few players have undergone a more dramatic change of status in the 18-month gap than Callum O’Dowda.
8:10am Friday 27th February 2015
DANNY Hylton says he has found a system this season which is helping him take penalties with confidence.