The South Yorkshire senior team played their first county championship match of 2014 against Merseyside with a generally anaemic performance at Meersbrook Park.
Chris Hill appeared to be giving South Yorkshire the perfect start as he won the first seven points and led 10-4.
But the 2012 BCGBA Champion of Champions John Finch strung together a tremendous 16 break to spoil the party, eventually winning 21-14 and taking the overall man of the match award.
Peter Worfolk played well and was disappointed in the end to only win 21-11, but several others struggled for consistency.
Joe Thorpe won 21-18, Chris Kelly 21-20 and Andy Turner 21-18, but after sharing the first eight jacks the score was 151-142 to Merseyside.
Good news was filtering through from St Helens where Merseyside fielded no less than nine ex-homesters, as the away squad was sweeping all before them, with seven of the first eight cards winning ones.
Joe Westell on his debut upset the odds beating the supposed home banker Danny Barwise 21-18, and was joined on the winners’ bench by Ross Meese 21-18, Chris Brown 21-14, Matt Beever 21-11, Danny Sillitoe 21-20, Paul Bailey 21-16 and Kevin Nixon 21-17 for a 25 point advantage 160-135.
The prospects back at Meersbrook Park were looking bleak as all the back four were losing at the same time but Glyn Davies scrambled a 21-17 win, and Gary Ainley used his green knowledge to win comfortably 21-11 when it looked highly unlikely.
The last game on the green saw little Nick Burridge race into a 15-2 lead only for Richard Jackson to transform what started as a damage limitation exercise into a 20-19 advantage, only to lose a pair at the last end.
This meant a final home deficit of 215-221, and despite Neil Fletcher being the only additional winner in St Helens the away team won 233-214 for an overall match victory of 448-435.
South Yorkshire’s June opponent Cheshire lost by 15 points to Shropshire, Derbyshire beat Greater Manchester both home and away, with wins for Brian Hill 21-13, Lee Davies 21-14 and Andy Spragg 21-20 at Crompton near Oldham, and Yorkshire won both legs against Wales.
* Holder Chris Hill triumphed in the gents event at the May Day Sheffield Parks Champion of Champions tournament for the third time in four years.
He beat Phil Walworth 21-15 in the final at Wadsley House. Kerry Brown won the Ladies title for the fourth time, and Nathan O’Brien won the Juniors for the second time, 21-20 in the final over the holder Harry Slack.
Scores: Chris Hill (Bradfield) 21 Steve Marshall (Millhouses) 17, Peter Worfolk (Bradfield) 21 Derek Billard (Bradfield) 12, David Hallam (Millhouses) 21 John Gamban (Hollinsend) 15, Phil Walworth (Millhouses) 21 Paul Drabble (Meersbrook BC) 10. Semi-finals: Hill 21 Worfolk 10, Walworth 21 Hallam 20.
Ladies: Kerry Brown (Meersbrook BC) 21 Jenny Wilby (Richmond) 11. Semi-finals: Brown 21 Janet Bisatt 12, Barbara Baxter (Meersbrook Park) 21 Jeanette Tizard (Clifton) 17. Final: Brown 21 Baxter 13.
Juniors: Harry Slack (Meersbrook Park) 21 Danny Fowler (Hillsborough) 18. Semi-finals: Harry Slack 21 Harris Kipling (Meersbrook Park) 16, Nathan O’Brien (Millhouses) 21 Eleasha Cound (Meersbrook Park) 18.