JACK Bushell fell short in an attempt to claim a national title on Saturday, but still rated it as his favourite afternoon playing the sport.

The Mere Parish Club member reached the final of the British Junior Individual Merit, only to finish as runner-up to Lucas Hall after a 21-12 defeat at Wigan Subscription Bowling Club.

He had reached the last eight 12 months earlier.

“I felt a bit of everything afterwards,” said the 18-year-old.

“If you’d said beforehand that I’d get that far, then I’d have been happy.

“But I was really gutted to miss out in the end.”

In June, he became the first teenager to win three successive Cheshire Junior Merit titles.

A debut at the All England Championships – as it is affectionately referred to by bowlers – in 2015 ended in a first-round exit.

But Bushell, who tried bowls for the first time after following his dad to the Knutsford club as a small boy, has improved on each appearance since.

He said: “The experience of previous years definitely helps; you know what to expect and how to cope with playing a number of games in a short space of time.

“I felt I played really well day, but just ran out of steam in the final.

“I let Lucas get too far in front at the start, and left myself with too much to do to catch him.”

Bushell, who plays in both the Knutsford Bowling League and the Knutsford Friday League for Mere, had seen off three county champions before facing Hall, of Warwick & Worcester.

A 21-8 success against Shropshire Junior Merit winner Harry Church was followed by others against North Midlands number one George Chapman (21-11) and Merseyside’s best junior Ryan Walters (21-14).

In between, he had seen off Matthew Bell from Yorkshire.

“I tried not to think too far ahead,” said Bushell.

“That’s not so easy though, and I knew if I could beat Ryan in the semi-finals then I’d have a great chance of winning it.

“It was a big crowd and the weather was in and out, so there was a lot to think about.

“I really loved it though.”

He will be too old to try again next year, and will attempt to make an impression in the Cheshire Senior Merit instead.

Mark, his younger brother, is still eligible to compete as a junior.

“I can’t wait to have a go against the older guys,” said Jack.

“It would be great to break into the county senior team, and that’s my next aim.

“Bowls is so competitive, which is what I like most about it, and that makes me more determined.

“It’s nice to win trophies, and a bit of money too, of course!”