Oxfordshire made a winning start to their Middleton Cup Group 3B campaign with a nail-biting 127-119 victory over Hampshire at Atherley.

The match was all-square with six ends to play, with skips Greg Moon, Baden Sparkes and Howard Watts having finished on their rinks.

But Mark Sykes’s side picked up six shots without reply on the last two ends, while Alan Prew’s four produced a three on the last end to snatch a one-shot victory.

And Ian Snowdon played two superb bowls on the 20th end when four down to help secure Oxon’s victory.

The visitors won on three of the six rinks, with captain Moon’s four of John Philpott, Barry Lambourne and Rich-ard Redford leading the way with a 32-20 victory over skip Peter Ward.

They were never in danger after racing into an 11-0 lead after five ends.

Sykes’s four of AJ Docherty, Jason King and the recalled Mark Charlett also posted a 12-shot success with a 27-15 win over skip Chris Daniels.

They were all-square at 11-11 after ten ends, before pulling away to take victory.

Prew’s side of debutant Chris Miles, Paul Sharman and Stuart Richens came from behind to post Oxon’s third winning rink with that three on the last end securing a 19-18 victory.

Watts’s quartet of the recalled Lee Young, Nathan Lewis and debutant Craig Nicoll staged a valiant fightback against Paul May only to go down by one shot.

Trailing 14-4 after ten ends, they rallied well before being being edged out 18-17.

Sparkes’s four of Mike Petersen, George Moon and Robbie Clanfield were blown away by Gary Starks’s storming finish to lose 25-18.

They led 14-12 after 15 ends, but were then swept aside by their Hampshire opponents.

Snowdon’s side of Keith Holloway, the recalled Ian Henwood and Nick Rae-Welsh suffered a similar fate against Richard Shelley.

They were level at 13-13 after 15 ends, but then picked up just one more shot in losing 23-14.

Manager Calvin Carpenter has named an unchanged line-up for Oxon’s next encounter against Surrey – who beat Middlesex 20-2 – at Banbury Central on Saturday, June 19.

Hampshire 119 (6pts), Oxon 127 (16)

(Hants rinks first)

Rink 1: M Hutley, C Paterson, A Geary, C Daniels 15; AJ Docherty, J King, M Charlett, M Sykes 27.

Rink 2: J Leggett, I Bundy, C Thresher, R Shelley 23; K Holloway, I Henwood, N Rae-Welsh, I Snowdon 14.

Rink 3: K Phillips, T Bailey, J Marsland, L May 18; C Miles, P Sharman, S Richens, A Prew 19.

Rink 4: K Downes, D Morgan, D Clark, G Starks 25; M Petersen, Ge Moon, Ro Clanfield, B Sparkes 18.

Rink 5: T Bishop, A Anderson, M Hammond, P May 18; L Young, N Lewis, C Nicoll, H Watts 17.

Rink 6: J Bright, B Starks, C Bailey, P Ward 20; J Philpott, B Lambourne, R Redford, Gr Moon 32.