Two Barnstaple skittles teams reached the finals of the British Skittles Championships for the first time this year.

The Lions team from Lovacott Village Hall were runners up in the British Skittles Mixed team Championships 2019. Picture: contributedThe Lions team from Lovacott Village Hall were runners up in the British Skittles Mixed team Championships 2019. Picture: contributed

The Lions mixed team of Lovacott Village Hall and Granny Cornish's Shorts men's team from Barnstaple Liberal Club were both crowned runners-up in their respective categories.

Granny Cornish's Shorts (GCS for short) stormed their way to the finals, winning their initial group round earlier on the day.

They then faced Weston St John from Weston-Super-Mare in the quarter finals. A tough match followed with GCS winning by just one pin on 283.

The semis saw them facing three times-champions the Highwaymen from Worcester. Undeterred, they dismissed them by 308 to 292.

Captain Jason Smith told the huge crowd before the final that they were absolutely stunned and delighted to have got so far in only their third year of competing in the championships.

The men's final turned out to be a roller coaster as they were pitted against the Rattler Boyz from Worcester.

The Barnstaple boys were overawed to start with but made a heroic comeback. Sadly it wasn't quite enough, and the Rattlers lifted the winner's trophy with 362 points, just one pin ahead.

Afterwards championship referee Rachel Hosking said it was the closest finals match ever in the 16 year history of the championships.

The other Barnstaple team in the spotlight were the Lions mixed team.

Their journey to the final was equally exciting. Having won their group round earlier in the day, they faced former champions the High Flyers from Totnes, who won the mixed title in 2017 and were runners up the previous year.

The Lions kept their cool and overcame the more experienced side by 286 points to 235.

Sadly the other finalists, the Gladrags from Gloucester proved too much for the plucky Barnstaple side. The Gladrags who won the title in 2016 and were runners in 2013, finished off the night with a score of 407. The Lions could only muster 340.

Devon was fielding its largest ever contingent in the finals this year with 17 teams.

Barnstaple too had its largest ever army with five teams in that number, competing in the finals.

Around 150 teams entered the competition which began in April with a series of regional group rounds. Sixty-four teams then qualified for the grand finals in Torquay at the weekend.