10 November, 2017
Semi Final day and a packed crowd for the Co op Funeralcare Scottish International Open 2017 at the Dewars centre in Perth. Four Scots men. Who would be taking their chances and making their way into the final line up tomorrow?
The first of the semi finals pitted tournament favourite Paul Foster MBE against the Co op Funeralcare Wild card Michael Stepney. Both players Scottish Internationals who have played against each other frequently. First end of the first set and Foster picked up a shot. Second end went to Stepney. Third end and Foster held two shots, Stepney strikes and removes one, Foster draws back in for two. Foster leads 3.1. Stepney holds two at end four, Foster strikes, misses, Stepney draws again and picks up a three. Another two shots to the unseeded Stepney at end five and all of a sudden the favourite Foster is on the back foot in the set. Another shot to Stepney and with three ends to play the man from Elgin leads by four shots 7.3. Foster holds two at end seven only to see Stepney draw shot, Foster misses with a draw, Foster plays a timer and misses. Stepney 8.3. A chance for Foster at end eight with two short opening bowls from Stepney but then with a bit of fortune with his third delivery he gets second. Foster scores a shot but needs a four on the last end to tie the set. He doesn’t manage it and just takes two and loses opening set 8.6.
At the opening end of set two Stepney continues the fantastic form and holds one shot. Foster plays a runner and gets the wrong connection and pushes another bowl of Stepney’s close. Stepney leads 2.0. Foster picks up a one and changes the jack length. But its Stepney who finds three killer bowls and takes the end with a count of three. 5.1 Stepney. Foster holds three at end four, Stepney hits the jack off the rink with an on target strike, Foster draws well but its just one shot. Stepney leads 5.2 after four ends. Foster changes the length of jack again and picks up a single. The score 5.3 to Stepney with four ends to play. Another shot to Foster 5.4. Could the World No 4 Foster fight his way into a tie break? Foster plays a runner at end seven but misses and Stepney picks up two shots. The crowd realise this could be the end of Foster and Stepney goes into end eight three shots up with two ends to play. Foster holds two shots at end eight to keep his hopes alive, Stepney draws second shot, Foster overplays his last bowl and picks up just one shot to mean he needs a three at the last end. Foster only manages a single and its Stepney who takes his place in his second World Bowls tour final 8.6 7.6 to the roar of an appreciative crowd. “I knew Paul was struggling so I just had to keep him under pressure and keep going,” said Stepney “I’m delighted to have been given this opportunity by Co op Funeralcare as their Wild card and Ill certainly be doing my best in the final.