Defending Pairs Champions bow out of the Championships

15 January, 2017
The remaining two quarter final berths in the ‘JUST.’ World Indoor Pairs Championships at Potters Resort were decided earlier today with ranked players Mark Dawes and Jamie Chestney making their mark against winners of the Scottish qualifier Andy Barker and Mike Stepney from Elgin.
 
The English duo  led 7-1 but had to hold  off a late challenge in the first set from the North of Scotland pair to open the scoring at 7-6.  In the second, a double on the sixth end from Barker and Stepney once again threatened the outcome, but  that was quickly kicked into touch with Dawes and Chestney sealing the verdict with a single on the last for a straight sets victory.6-4. They now line up against Rob Paxton, who won the title in two years ago with Simon Skelton, however Skelton is no longer a top 16 ranked player and therefore unavailable for selection with Paxton now partnering Paisley’s Jonathan Ross.
 
The all-English partnership of Mark Royal and Andy Thomson were the first seeds to bow out of contention with Daniel Salmon and Damien Doubler winning by one a half sets to a half to complete  the quarter final line up tomorrow against top dogs Nicky Brett and Greg Harlow.
 
There were more dramas to follow in the ensuing afternoon semi-finals where holders Stewart Anderson and Darren Burnett from Scotland  lost a high quality exchange against the strong partnership of Mervyn King and David Gourlay,who were playing together for  a third successive year.   In their three previous challenges they lost to Nicky Brett and Greg Harlow in 2014, Jonathan Ross and Wayne Hogg in 2015 and last year to Simon Skelton and Rob Paxton.
 
King and Gourlay led all the way in the opening set, winning 7-3 with a double and single finish but in the second Anderson was just too hot to handle, continually peppering the jack and King did well to stay with him and keep the count to a reasonable 3-0 after three ends. A double on the fourth put King and Gourlay on the card where they opted to play a minimum length with the mat up to the pin tactic and that certainly worked as they added a further single and double to take a 5-3 lead going into the last where a single for the Scots wasn’t good enough for them to take the match to a best of three end tie break as they missed out 5-4.
 
Later Gourlay said “we decided that we have to change the flow of the game as Stewart was dominating so we took the mat to the pin and played a minimum length and that seemed to work.  It wasn’t pretty but it did the business for us. “Stewart was immense and Mervyn did well to stay with him and keep us interested”.
 
Their opponents in Monday afternoon’s semi-finals will be the surprise partnership of Les Gillett and Jason Greenslade. They  participated in the second semi-final against the three in a row winners between 2001 and 2013 –  Paul Foster and Alex Marshall and in a riveting match the golden boys were put to the sword by the new partnership by  Gillett from Leicestershire and Penarth’s  Greenslade.
 
Gillett and Greenslade took first blood 8-5, but must have been mightily relieved on the last end with Marshall missing a set winning trail to pick up a count of five shots by a few inches.
 
In the second it was one way traffic as Foster and Marshall bounced back to win 10-2 and then in the best of three end tie break they kept the audience on the edge of their seats with the result swaying one way and then the other before a precise firing shot from skip Greenslade with his second bowl pushed the holding match winner out of the head, with Marshall failing to solidify a winning positing as his bowl drew up agonisingly short of the head.