World Open Pairs holder Greg Harlow – kicked off the 2021 ‘Just’ World Indoor Championships at Potters Resort a short time ago – but without his regular World Bowls Tour partner Nicky Brett.
Earlier in December Nicky broke his right hand wrist and had to withdraw from the Open Singles and is also unable to defend the Mixed Pairs title he won with Marion Purcell from Wales.
Greg however was delighted to be reunited with his former City of Ely Clubmate Ellen Falkner – who was awarded an MBE in the New Years’ Honours List – and they got their show on the road against 2017 runners up Damien Doubler and Dan Salmon from Wales.
This year though – instead of the best of two sets of seven ends – using three bowls per player a change of rules saw the format revert to the best of two sets of nine ends with each each player allowed two bowls.
The first set went Falkner & Harlow’s way 8-3. Despite dropping a single on the opening end, they dominated over the next the remainder of the set.
The second set looked to be heading the same way, with the Engish pairing taking a 4-2 lead after just 4 ends. However Doubler and Salmon – the reigning Commonwealth Pairs Champion – nosed ahead with a double and single to lead 5-4 and from there to the end of the set it was anyone’s set.
The Welsh duo got a massive result on the penultimate end. With his last bowl Harlow trailed the jack to hold a treble which would have seen them go 9-5 ahead playing the last end but a superb delivery from Salmon saw the set instead tied at 6-6 leaving them everything to play for.
Fortune though favoured the English twosome and they scored the vital shot to win the set 7-6 and take a straight sets victory.
Harlow who had led for Brett at the last 3 Championships – now assumed the position as skip – and he was more than delighted with the performance of Falkner, saying “Ellen set the heads up very nicely for me. This is our first competition in a long time so I was well pleased with Ellen’s performance and the result!”
Returning the compliment Falkner said “Greg was outstanding throughout. He was the best player on the rink by a long way – he executed every shot in the book”.
They play their 2nd Round match on Sunday afternoon.
Ellen Falkner MBE & Greg Harlow (Eng) bt Damien Doubler & Dan Salmon (Wales) 8-3, 7-6;
Reported by Anne Dunwoodie (WBT Press Officer)