CALLUM Wraight came out on top in a real thriller to win the annual Railway Classic.

The Shrewsbury bowler, regarded as one of the best in the country, got his hands on the specially made ‘match stick’ trophy after defeating Dave Walker 21-20 in the Blackburn competition.

In a final that could have gone either way, Wraight and Whitworth’s Walker went toe to toe as they thrilled the crowd at the Pleasington pub before Wraight fought back from 20-17 down to win.

Wraight was playing in his first Railway Classic and still suffering from having had his bowls’ split in two the week before while Walker was making his second appearance on finals day.

Both players adopted different tactics, Wraight playing for ‘short’ marks with Walker going for the corners.

It was Walker who played the better bowls but it was the points that counted and needing just one more to win the title, he could not close the game out.

Wraight showed his class when, with Walker lying game with his first wood, he struck to stay in the match. His wood was bang on target and the game, in a flash, swung back to Wraight who then went on to seal a 21-20 victory.

Wraight was certainly made to work for his title as he was pushed all the way by Accrington’s Mick Opie in the semi final with the Shrewsbury man holding off a late challenge to win 21-19.

In the opening round, he came out on top in an all-Shrewsbury affair, beating Clay Flattley 21-10.

And he booked his place in the semi final with a win 21-13 win over Wigan’s John Crossley.

On the other side of the draw, Walker proved to be too strong for Hoghton’s Andrew Fleming as he stormed to a 21-4 victory in his opening match.

But the Whitworth bowler was given sterner tests on his route to the final.

In the quarter finals, he beat home bowler Craig Bibby 21-16 before seeing off the challenge of Steve Morrey from Northwich in the semi finals, eventually winning 21-18.

Despite the title heading for Shropshire, there was plenty of local interest in the competition.

In the Pleasington derby in the opening round, Railway’s Bibby beat Butler Arms’ James Melia 21-15 before Walker ended his interest in the competition.

Another Railway bowler, Craig Ramell, fell at the first hurdle, losing 21-10 to Crossley - one of two first round matches that went all the way to a decider. The other was Opie’s win over Darwen’s Rick Riley.

Crown green legend Brian Duncan presented the trophy along with Railway Bowling Club president, Alan Cottam.

Organiser Reg Horman said: “Our intention was to bring first class bowling to East Lancashire and, in so doing, encourage local players to experience and play in bigger and better competitions.

“I am delighted with our progress and I can say that without doubt we have put The Railway at Pleasington on the bowling map.

“It is great to see the best players on our green and in our area.

“We will continue to grow, innovate and create a tournament that holds its own across the UK.”

Horman thanked The Pexion Group and all the other sponsors for their on-going support and added: “Thanks to Brian Duncan and Railway Bowling Club President, Alan Cottam, for making the presentations.”

There were big changes for this year’s competition and Horman expects next year’s event to be even bigger.

He said: “This year was a consolidation year at the Railway.

“The new scoring systems was a huge success and the online dynamic programme was a first in providing real-time programme and scoring app on iPhone and Android devices.

“The plan is to go even bigger and better in 2019. We are looking to increase entries to 128 and double the prize fund, making the Railway Classic a candidate for an Order of Merit reserve competition.”

The total prize fund was £2,260 with Wraight winning the £500 first place prize with £250 going to Walker who also won the highest break (15) of final day.

n Results

First round: Ross Hatzer 19-21 Adam Penlington, Steve Mottley 21-16 Ian Armstrong, Craig Bibby 21-15 James Melia, Andrew Fleming 4-21 Dave Walker, Jack Hargreaves 13-21 Phil Cookson, Mick Opie 21-20 Rick Riley, Craig Ramall 20-21 John Crossley, Clay Flattley 10-21 Callum Wraight.

Quarter finals: Adam Penlington 10-21, Craig Bibby 16-21 Dave Walker, Phil Cookson 15-21 Mick Opie, John Crossley 13-21 Callum Wraight.

Semi finals: Steve Morrey 18-21 Dave Walker, Mick Opie 19-21 Callum Wraight.

Final: Callum Wraight 21-20 Dave Walker.