Friday’s matches at Desborough Indoor Bowls Club were the fourth round of matches to be played in the TWBS Open Pairs. The first game up saw Bradley Harcup and Joe Napier against top seeds Louisa and Kira of Newlands Girls’ School. Louisa and Kira were clear favourites going into the match but some incredible bowling by both Joe and Bradley early on suggested an upset was on the cards. A tight first end went the way of the boys, with the girls unable to get past some blockers by Joe and a close bowl by Bradley. Both boys looked quite chuffed with themselves since I don’t think even they thought they could win a single end. End two, and the girls bowled five cracking bowls into the head, showing the class that we have all come to expect of them, and at five down Bradley stood on the mat already under incredible pressure. Well, Bradley doesn’t understand the word pressure and bowled a phenomenal front toucher finishing just an inch off the jack and lying shot. A huge round of applause from the coaches watching and the girls looked rattled, Louisa firing with her last, just missing the head to the left. 2-0 to the boys. Could they pull off an upset?
Unfortunately the girls then showed their class going 8-2 up in 3 quick ends as they asserted themselves on the game, but a great bowl from Joe and some clever bowling from Bradley was enough to grab a single going into the last end 8-3 down needing to pick up a five. Then, something akin to Italy versus England in the 2017 Six Nations when the Azzuri refused to commit any players after the tackle (thereby preventing any rucks from forming and allowing their men to remain in an offside position), controversially Joe took the mat right up the green, as far as he could go and set a short jack. Muttering could be heard amongst the spectators. There were a few shrugs of shoulders from the coaches, and one visibly displeased opposition bowler. But Joe was fully within his rights to exercise this tactic meant to unsettle the opposition and throw them off their rhythm. And Joe did exactly what was required of him and bowled two excellent bowls within a few inches of the Jack, his second trailing the jack back a foot, leaving Bradley needing to find another three. (Pictured: Joe’s last two bowls on the final end)
The opposition were clearly shaken, their skip bowling her first bowl into the ditch, whilst Bradley bowled two further shots. The boys were four up and with two bowls left to come the miracle was very much on. Louisa then played a cracking shot as she drew around the short bowls to get second wood, reducing the boys count to 1. With 1 bowl left to play, Bradley needed to rest Louisa’s bowl out the head, in order to achieve a count of five, but just missed it by centimetres! So, so very close! And so the final result was 8-4 to the girls, but with Joe and Bradley winning 4 of the 7 ends played they can surely hold their heads up high after a great performance.
On the next rink saw Kyle Ferguson and Cameron Pinder up against Owen Davies and Fionn O’Neill. Lying fourth in the table, both Owen and Fionn were keen to bowl well and were up for it from the start. On the first end it was immediately clear that second seeds Kyle and Cameron had a tough game on their hands as Owen bowled his first two bowls just inches off the jack, one in front and one behind, both of them touchers. A cracking start and one that would take Kyle and Cameron another couple of ends before they could get back into the game. There was some truly impressive bowling in this game; on each occasion all 16 bowls were bowled to within just a few feet of the jack. (Pictured: Owen’s first two bowls on the first end)
Then, high drama playing the last end! Kyle and Cameron were 8-6 up on the match, but Owen and Fionn were holding two shots. With his last bowl to come, and with the last bowl of the match, Fionn needed to get a third to win. The bowl left his hand and made its way to the jack. “Come on Fionn!” shouted Owen as the bowl got closer and closer. Finally it came to rest just cm’s from counting three shots, but with the bowl leaning ever so slightly towards the jack. “30 seconds” came the call from Owen as he evoked the rule that after coming to rest the bowl is allowed a maximum of 30 seconds to fall over. If the bowl falls over Owen and Fionn win the match, if it stays upright it is a draw! This was tense! “…8, 9, 10…” came the count as the bowl rocked slightly. “… 17, 18, 19…” and the bowl was visibly beginning to fall on its bias. “… 27…” and still falling, “…28, 29…” one more second but would it fall over? “30” and unfortunately for Owen and Fionn the bowl just didn’t fall enough, much to the relief of Kyle and Cameron who remain unbeaten. Cracking game!
And finally the TWBS Open Pairs basement clash between both Charles Wallace and Jack Whalley against Katie and Simran. Unfortunately at the last minute Jack was unable to bowl, meaning Charles had to face the match alone. And Charles was up for it! This game saw some serious underhand mind games from both sides, something akin to the sledging that took place in the 2017 Ashes Series in Australia!! “Are you the Princess or the Frog?” has to be my favourite, as this question was fired by the girls at Charles. But Charles kept firing them back, and whilst the excellent fun and humour on the green from both sides continued, Charles kept sneaking his bowls into the head much to the girls annoyance with Charles coming out the victor by 12 shots to 4.
And so Louisa and Kira have consolidated their place at the top of the league, and with Kyle and Cameron looking set to finish at worst second, next week will likely be a procession for both teams before playing a final which will hopefully be held at the club during the club’s finals day. Newlands Girls’ School also remain 2 points ahead at 8½-6½ in the battle of the schools and TWBS Bowls Society would like to congratulate them on the quality of their bowling this year!
Mr D Smith