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Bex Field gives Norfolk fans more to cheer as mixed champions bow out at Potters

PUBLISHED: 17:17 19 January 2018 | UPDATED: 19:52 19 January 2018

Norfolk's Bex Field in mixed pairs action at Potters. 
Picture: Nick Butcher

Norfolk's Bex Field in mixed pairs action at Potters. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

There was more good news for Norfolk bowls fans, when, following the success of Wayne Willgress in the open singles, his fiancee Bex Field helped Arbroath’s Darren Burnett send the defending champions Claire Johnston and Nick Brett crashing out of the quarter-finals of the mixed pairs.

Bex Field in action at Potters. 
Picture: Nick Butcher Bex Field in action at Potters. Picture: Nick Butcher

The 28-year-old Field reached the final of this event with Scotland’s Paul Foster last year, and had been looking forward to resuming her partnership with the world number three, who was forced to withdraw from the pairs and mixed pairs when news came through of the death of his father Hugh.

Foster, for whom his fellow-players feel deeply, returned to Ayrshire, but as defending world indoor singles champion, will be back at Potters in time to launch the defence of his title on Monday.

“The circumstances were regrettable, but it was great that Darren was able to step into the breach, and replace Paul,” said Field, after what was essentially a scratch pairing had beaten Johnston and Brett by a spectacular 2-9, 7-3, 2-1 scoreline.

“We got on very well,” Field added. “Perhaps I should point out that the only games I have ever won in this mixed pairs event have been with Scots. That’s got to mean something!”

Bex Field, left, and Claire Johnson share a lighter moment during their match at Potters. 
Picture: Nick Butcher Bex Field, left, and Claire Johnson share a lighter moment during their match at Potters. Picture: Nick Butcher

Making a slow start, Field and Burnett certainly got their game together in the second set, as Field got better end-by-end – but it was two pressure bowls from the Commonwealth Games singles champion in a tense tie-break that got them over the line.

An unusual occurrence on the first end of the tie-break saw Burnett forego the right to deliver his last bowl. The marker had expressed his opinion that a green bowl was shot, Brett, who agreed with the marker, attacked the head and missed, and Burnett, who had another bowl to play, claimed the shot and ‘declared’ the end.

When the umpire, Mike Davies, was called on to adjudicate, he used special callipers as a measuring instrument, and, to everyone’s surprise, found in favour of red.

On the second tie-break end, Burnett had to draw to the corner of the green, with the jack in the ditch, and did so unerringly, and, on the third, a sudden-death affair, he drove the jack into the ditch, again with his very last bowl, for a dramatic victory.

Bex Field reacts during the mixed pairs, watched by quarter-final opponents Claire Johnson and Nick Brett. 
Picture: Nick Butcher Bex Field reacts during the mixed pairs, watched by quarter-final opponents Claire Johnson and Nick Brett. Picture: Nick Butcher

The irresistible rise of Norfolk-born Jamie Chestney has been quite remarkable, and the way he skipped Scotland’s Lesley Doig to a spectacular 11-3, 5-5 win over the World Bowls Tour’s TV commentator Janice Gower and Scotland’s head coach David Gourlay yesterday showed why he is provisionally ranked number three in the WBT ranking list.

A new name in the WBT Top Eight, Chestney is making his first assault on the World Mixed Pairs Matchplay title, and he has already booked his place in the final of the Open Pairs, in which he and Mark Dawes will face their England team-mates Greg Harlow and Nick Brett on Monday.

After beating Gower and Gourlay, Chestney, who now lives in Devon, was full of praise for the way in which Doig had played on her very first appearance on the blue portable rink. “She was brilliant – but that’s good, because I need someone to carry me,” he joked modestly.

Darrenn Burnett in action as Nick Brett watches. 
Picture: Nick Butcher Darrenn Burnett in action as Nick Brett watches. Picture: Nick Butcher

Doig, who was runner-up in the World Outdoor Women’s Singles championship in Christchurch in 2016, and will be playing in the Commonwealth Games in Queensland in April, admitted to feeling nervous before and during the game.

Earlier, fans had seen Guernsey’s Alison Merrien and Scotland’s Stewart Anderson putting Australia’s Young Player of the Year Ellen Ryan and England’s Rob Paxton to the sword – rather more comprehensively than the 6-6, 6-4 scoreline might suggest.

Merrien and Anderson certainly seemed to have the first set sewn up when they led 6-3, and held two good shots on the penultimate end of the set. Only one bowl to come – and that belonged to Anderson – so they were poised to go into the last end with an 8-3 advantage.

Unwisely, as it turned out, he decided to try to draw another shot, but he was rather too accurate, and moved the jack, giving the shot away. Now it was 6-4, and a double on the seventh end gave Ryan and Paxton a tied set.

Quarter-finalists Claire Johnson and Nick Brett (red) and Bex Field and Darren Burnett. 
Picture: Nick Butcher Quarter-finalists Claire Johnson and Nick Brett (red) and Bex Field and Darren Burnett. Picture: Nick Butcher

A treble on the first end of the second set got Merrien and Anderson off to a good start, and this time they made no mistakes. Holding a firm grip, they went into the last end with a 6-2 lead, and were more than happy to drop a double.

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