9 January, 2021

English duo Mark Royal and skip Rob Paxton survived an opening set scare before getting their ‘Just.’ Open Pairs campaign off to a winning start, beating three time former champion Andy Thomson MBE and his 19 year old partner Devon Cooper 6-5, 11-3.

Cooper, a late replacement for Ian Honnor who had to withdraw, gave a confident performance at the front for a very focused and ‘in form’ Thomson as they counted singles on five of the first six ends to lead 5-1. However a single for Royal and Paxton gave them possession of the jack and without hesitation Royal pulled the mat up and yielded them a treble and the all important shot on the last end to steal the set 6-5.

Another treble followed on the opening end of the second set and despite dropping a double and singles, to stand all square at 3-3, Royal and Paxton hit a purple patch and rolled in eight shots over the next five ends without reply to win 11-3 and take a straight sets victory.

Paxton said later “To be fair, we got out of jail. They deserved to take the first set. Andy always managed to produce a counter and was drawing superbly. We thought the set was done and dusted when we were four shots down with three ends to play but it just shows you how a mat length can make a big difference in a game.

“Mark’s tactic of changing the length of the jack certainly worked for us, and of course keeps our interest alive in this event”.

They continue their title challenge with their quarter final match on Sunday night.

Mark Royal & Rob Paxton (Eng) bt Devon Cooper & Andy Thomson (Eng) 6-5, 11-3

Report by Anne Dunwoodie (WBT Press Officer)