GLOUCESTERSHIRE women champions of the Middle England Bowls League had the stuffing knocked out of them in their opening fixture by Oxfordshire at Banbury when they lost by 32 shots.
Oxfordshire also beat them last year, which was their only defeat as they went onto win the title with six straight wins.
This time around they suffered three heavy defeats whilst winning the other three rinks.
The best came from Val Webb (Victory Park), Trish Nunn (Ardagh), Val Major (Churchdown) and Gill Fry (Gloucester Spa) who, up against Carol Penson, led by a slender shot at halfway, 8-7, before trailing behind 12-11 and 14-13 with three ends to play.
A purple patch gave them eight shots in the final run-in without reply to win 21-14.
The other two rinks both won 21-17 with Jenny Westlake (Arrow), Elaine Lewis (Redland Green), Barbara Brown and Jackie Ind (both Arrow) coming from 7-2 down after five ends to lead Wendy Cross 10-9 after 10 ends.
Two shots ahead going into the last three ends, they doubled their lead to pick up the win.
Jan Hunt (Ardagh), Di Wilson (Olveston), Jeanette Scott (Cheltenham) and Lyn Hamer (Ardagh), up against Caroline Campion, were well in command, leading 16-9 before being caught with three ends left.
Digging deep, they edged their opponents out, scoring five shots to one to win 21-17.
The three losing rinks saw Janet Lee-Cooper (Yate), Jean Crook (Stroud), Pam Salvage and Sue Osborne (both Kingswood & Hanham) suffer a 28-10 defeat to Sylvia Rogers.
Jan Bishop (Tewkesbury), Veronica Richie (Olveston), Ann White (Arrow) and Sue Blackwell (Falcon) were only 17-16 down to Brenda Howard before only picking up one shot in six ends to crash to a 27-17 defeat.
Val Ayres (Lydney), Sandra Bailey (Churchdown), Pat MacGregor (Arrow) and Jacky Howes (Stroud) ended up on the wrong end of a 30-11 defeat to Kathy Hawes.