Greg Harlow – England………..Paul Foster MBE – Scotland…..England v Scotland Final!!
To the resounding sound of a piper the two gladiators took to the rink for the final of the Coop Funeralcare Scottish International Open 2016. England versus Scotland, who could and would win? Defending champion Greg Harlow has been outstanding all week but his opponent, today, Paul Foster MBE, has been formidable in every game and looked all the way back to his best. End one of the first set Foster took first blood. End two, one shot to Harlow. End three and Harlow holds two, a maximum result runner from Foster opened the head up and let him into draw shot with his last bowl of the end. Another one shot to Foster at end four with amazing drawing accuracy. The captivated crowd enjoying every bowl sent. Another single to Foster at end five and Harlow has played well to get nothing out of ends. End six and Foster just piles on more pressure with two perfect deliveries to deny Harlow. Score 6.1 to Foster. End seven and with Harlow one bowl left he is looking down the barrel of four down, Harlow draws and just gets the right side of Fosters bowl to take shot. End eight and Harlow draws two in before Foster plays a runner to take one shot out, another shot to Harlow. The ninth end saw Harlow playing two very unlucky bowls, one just over a draw tipping the jack to Fosters bowl, the other a runner to take Fosters bowl out which flicks the jack to another of Fosters bowls, Harlow drops a one. Nine ends played and just ten shots scored, the score 7.3 to Foster. Harlow almost get the perfect result with a runner to pick up a count at end ten, but finishes with just the one. Harlow needs a three to tie the set at end eleven. Foster draws well and forces Harlow to play runners, Harlow misses and Foster takes the first set 10.4.
Both these players bidding to make history to become the first player to win the Scottish International Open three times. We stepped into set two with defending champion Greg Harlow needing to win it to take the final into a tie break. End one both players struggled to get very close, but it was Harlow that took one shot. At the second end Foster struggled with his opening couple of deliveries but made a runner count to score one shot. Foster has played in eleven finals at the World Bowls Tour and has won eight of them, a very impressive CV. The third end Harlow drew in to take a shot and the lead in the second set 2.1. A fantastic runner from Foster took Harlow’s shot out, at end four, to pick up three shots in what could prove to be a pivotal end in the game. Harlow picks up a two at end five to square the score up 4.4 after five ends. Interestingly enough both players picking up shots in the different directions on the rink so far in this set. At end six Foster trails the jack for a possible three shot hold, but Harlow draws the perfect shot, Foster runs at it but misses it. Score 5.4 to Harlow. Another shot to Harlow at end seven and could we see a tie break in this final? Two loose opening bowls from Foster at end eight and Harlow is holding three, an outstanding last bowl from Foster draws close but just sits down, one shot to Harlow. Foster desperate for this game not to go to a tie break starts end nine well, Harlow plays a runner to take Fosters shots out of the head and holds a count of four with Foster one bowl left to play, Foster plays a runner and misses, four to Harlow. Set score 11.4 to Harlow with two ends to play. A virtually impossible task at end ten for Foster and Harlow takes the set 12.4. Tie break. First end and Foster draws shot, Harlow drives with his third bowl, misses. Foster draws again, Harlow strikes and misses. First end Foster. End two and Foster draws close, Harlow draws in closer. Foster touches the jack round the corner. Harlow runs and misses. Foster trails the jack. Harlow runs again and misses. Foster takes his time to look at all the angles. Foster draws another. Harlow runs again with his last bowl and this time gets the jack clean and counts the second end. Last end and nail biting stuff for all involved. First bowl Harlow overplays. Foster draws close and the crowd go wild. Harlow’s short. Foster close again. Harlow nominates to kill and does! First bowl through again from Harlow. Foster closer but just through. Harlow draws shot. Foster overplays. Harlow makes the shot position better. Foster runs and takes one out. Harlow draws again. Foster nominates to kill but misses. The title is Harlow’s again!
Presentation of trophy was made by John Williamson, Head of Co op operations for Scotland and Northern Ireland