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Norfolk star Mervyn King edged out by past champion Stewart Anderson at Potters

07:00 21 January 2016

World Bowls tournament, Potters Leisure resort, Hopton, Norfolk. Action from the mens singles match between Stewart Anderson (red) and Mervyn King (green)


. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

World Bowls tournament, Potters Leisure resort, Hopton, Norfolk. Action from the mens singles match between Stewart Anderson (red) and Mervyn King (green) . PHOTO: Nick Butcher

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Considering he had just failed to make it through to the quarter-finals of the Just Retirement WBT world indoor singles championship at Potters, Mervyn King looked surprisingly relaxed after his defeat at the hands of the 2012 champion Stewart Anderson.

“To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to the game, because I wasn’t playing very well in practice,” admitted the 49-year-old estate manager from Stiffkey, near Wells. “But I’m very pleased with the way I played, especially in the second set and in the tie-break.”

In as exciting a game as any in the tournament so far, two players whose reputation is based firmly on their ability to draw delicately to the jack forced each other into playing attacking shots, and it was his drives that enabled Anderson to record an 11-2, 3-8, 2-1 victory.

“I feel that I stole the game from him,” said Anderson, from Scotland. “Mervyn’s drawing in the second set was unbelievable, so I had no option but to hit his bowls off the jack – but he kept on drawing them back.”

Anderson was leading 5-2 after five ends in the first set when he unleashed a drive that not only hit its target, but had a result that both players agreed was 155pc. King, who held three shots, watched in dismay as the Scot removed them and clipped the jack away for a double.

Daniels sets up final clash against Field

While defending champion Alex Marshall survived by the skin of his teeth in the open singles, Laura Daniels, the holder of the women’s Matchplay singles title, had her hopes of retaining the title dashed by Ellen Falkner in the semi-finals.

Today, in an all-English final, Falkner, who lost in the inaugural final of the event in 2003, but won in 2005 and 2006, will face a strong challenge from Norfolk’s Bex Field, the 2013 champion, who beat Cliodhna Eadie, from Ireland, 3-8. 7-6, 2-1, in the other semi-final.

Eadie, who defeated Ipswich ace Katherine Rednall in the quarter finals, started well, winning the first set comfortably, but Field, showing commendable patience, recovered in the second set, and earned herself a tie-break. And, although Eadie was first to draw blood in the tie-break, Field took control, and, when she drew an inch-perfect toucher with her third bowl on the deciding end, clenched her fist in a subtle gesture of celebration.

The 26-year-old Field, who is head of communications for Norwich-based charity Beat, which helps people overcome eating disorders, said: “I felt that was a quality game, and am more than happy to have won it. Cliodhna played superbly, especially in the first set.”

She added: “I’m over the moon, partly because I’m in the final again - and partly because I feel more comfortable on the portable rink than I have for some time. I’m really looking forward to playing Ellen!”

Welsh ace Daniels, a 30-year-old accountant, was slow to start against Falkner, who plays alongside Greg Harlow at the City of Ely club.

But, although Falkner looked worried when Daniels clawed her way back into contention by the time the ninth and last end of the first set got under way, the Cambridgeshire player was able to break the 5-5 deadlock and take the game into tie-break territory.

Daniels scored a treble to lead, 8-5, with one end to play in the second set, but the 36-year-old Falkner, who won gold medals at three Commonwealth Games had a chance to tie the set if she could have ditched the jack with her last bowl.

When she missed by an inch or so, the game went to a tie-break, and, like the day’s other three matches, the tie-break itself went all the way to the wire, the final score being 6-5, 5-9, 2-1.

Results

Singles, second round: Stewart Anderson (Scotland) bt Mervyn King (England) 11-2, 3-8, 2-1

Alex Marshall (Scotland) bt Mark Dawes (England) 7-7, 7-7, 2-1

Women’s Matchplay singles semi-finals: Ellen Falkner (England) bt Laura Daniels (Wales) 6-5, 5-9, 2-1; Bex Field (England) bt Cliodhna Eadie (Ireland) 3-8, 7-6, 2-1.

“So, after six ends, instead of it being all square at 5-5, I found myself 7-2 down,” recalled a rueful King. “The first set was virtually all over, and I was content to keep drawing to get ready for the second set.”

And that’s where the story really begins. King turned on the style, and found his best form, allowing Anderson only three singles as he powered to an 8-3 result, and took the game into a best-of-three-ends tie-break.

At this stage, King looked the likely winner, and he took another step towards a place in the quarter-finals when he won the first end of the tie-break, drawing to within an inch of the jack after Anderson had clipped his winner off the face of it.

The Scot won the second, but was forced to fire again, and hit the jack out of bounds on the sudden death third end, only for King to draw a few inches short of the re-spotted jack.

In the end, Anderson reverted to the draw, and managed to beat King’s shot, finishing behind the jack, and the Norfolk man’s last attempt to redeem the situation stopped a millimetre or two short of glory.

The demise of the King was followed immediately by the arrival of the Monarch of the Green, defending champion Alex Marshall, who was subjected to no end of pressure by Blackpool’s Mark Dawes. Several times In what was a truly sensational encounter, Marshall had to draw on his vast experience, but he edged through, 7-7, 7-7, 2-1 and the two gladiators received a standing ovation.

Today’s schedule

10am – Singles, second round – Connor Cinato (England) v Jamie Chestney (England)

1pm – Women’s Matchplay singles final: Ellen Falkner (England) v Bex Field (England)

3pm – Singles, second round – Darren Burnett (Scotland) v Greg Harlow (England)

7.30pm – Singles, second round – Les Gillett (England) v Nick Brett (England)

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