LAWN BOWLS ISLE OF MAN
If nothing else this year’s finals will be remembered as possibly the most closely contested and intense matches seen at the Lawn Bowls final’s day for sometime.
In the Ladies Singles final last year’s ladies pairs winners were now on opposite sides with the experienced campaigner Bernice McGreal making her 8th successive appearance in the National Singles Final having won the title on 4 previous occasions. Whilst Karen Slack was making her debut in a major singles final. Playing conditions were good with both players finding some useful bowls in the early ends but it was Slack who took an early advantage to build up a healthy 8 shot lead at one stage. The determination of McGreal was evident as she clawed back the deficit and eventually went ahead 18-17 as the match neared the finale. However, not to be outdone, Slack delivered 4 excellent bowls on the next end and held a match winning position before McGreal found the perfect bowl with her last wood to draw the jack through for a single shot before adding a further 2 shots on the next end to close out the match and claim, her 5th National Singles title. Full credit must be given to Karen Slack who put up a tremendous performance over the gruelling intensity of this 28 end contest.
In the Men’s Singles final it was yet another repeat duel between the father and son rivals Clive and Mark McGreal who were contesting their 5th successive final with Mark being the defending champion from 2020. This match was always going to be a close contest and indeed it lived up to expectations, despite Clive mounting a healthy lead early on, Mark soon got to grips with the rink and gradually pulled the match all square at 17 all. The quality of bowling on display was well appreciated by the spectators as both players kept finding the jack with such consistency each end changed with virtually every shot being played. Such was the close encounter that the players went from 17 shots each, through to 19 all and eventually to 20 all. The intensity of the final end was on a knife edge with Mark having played 3 excellent bowls and holding a match winning position. Clive managed to find that special delivery which finished as a resting toucher on the jack leaving Mark little option than to attempt to drive the bowl dead and kill the jack in order to replay the end. However, his effort was just millimetres off target which left Clive with the single shot required to win the match by the narrowest of margins to lift the title for the 6th occasion in 7 seasons.
The Ladies Pairs match was somewhat different to the singles matches and featured first time debutants Dee Lewis and Libby Andrade up against the experienced Pam Makin and Win Kewley who have won the title on a number of occasions. It was Lewis and Andrade who started the brightest of the pairings, finding their line and length with better consistency in the early phase of the match. They soon compiled a lead which they were not going to surrender. Despite some fine bowls by Makin and Kewley the bowling gods were not with them on the day. All credit to Lewis and Andrade, their performance deserved the fine win they achieved by a comfortable margin in the end to take the title by a scoreline of 23-5.
The Men’s Pairs Final played between the holders Mark and Clive McGreal against Eric Maddocks and Phil Smith had been played earlier in the week and proved to be real tight affair with some excellent bowls being played by both pairs. After 13 ends of the 18 end final the score stood at a miserly 7-6 to the McGreal pairing with just a single shot separating the sides on each end. With Maddocks in fine form his lead bowls were a constant challenge to overcome on a tricky rink. However, with a subtle change in the length of the jack and some exceptional draw shots by Mark in particular the McGreal pairing gradually nudged ahead to win the majority of the remaining ends and closed out the match by 14 shots to 8 to claim their 6th successive National Pairs Title.
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