Laura Thomas helps Paul Foster’s bid for unique world indoor bowls championship treble

Laura Thomas and Paul Foster celebrate their triumph. Picture: James Bass Laura Thomas and Paul Foster celebrate their triumph. Picture: James Bass

Thursday, January 24, 2013
1:23 PM

Paul Foster, known sometimes as the Troon Tornado, won his second world title in two days in Hopton-on-Sea, adding the mixed pairs to the open pairs crown he won on Monday.

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After leading for Alex Marshall in the pairs final, he switched to skip, and was well served by his lead, Laura Thomas, a 27-year-old accountant from South Wales, who, after a nervous start, turned on an outstanding display of drawing.

Thomas and Foster defeated Aussie ace Karen Murphy and Foster’s fellow-Scot Darren Burnett in straight sets – 12-5 10-6 – in the final, and fully deserved their victory, though it must be said that Burnett had some bad luck with his drives.

“I have been struggling with my form, and that’s the time when you look for a little bit of good fortune,” said Burnett. “But when you need it, you don’t get it, and today was one of those days I went through gaps that weren’t there, and nothing went our way the whole game.”

Foster, who often provided the finishing touches, was full of praise for his lead, saying: “Laura was up against it because Karen won the world outdoor singles title in Adelaide just six weeks ago, but she was absolutely out-of-this-world.”

Murphy agreed: “On the odd occasion I got things right, and got a bowl close to the jack, she would beat it immediately. I was, like, ‘Hold it lady – give me a break will you!’ She was phenomenal.”

Although the final scoreline suggests it was a one-sided contest, it was far from that: Murphy and Burnett led 4-1 in the first set, and were 6-4 ahead in the second; but Thomas and Foster were just too consistent, dominating the second half of each set.

Realising they were losing the drawing battle, Burnett, a 36-year-old police officer from Dundee, resorted to force – something which is part of his natural game, and at which he is normally very accurate.

Never far away, his missiles found every gap available, or, when on target, obtained unorthodox results through bad contacts.

“Don’t get me wrong, the more consistent pair won, and fully deserved their victory,” said Burnett. “But I began to feel that it just wasn’t my day!”

In a battle of the giants, Alex Marshall, the most decorated bowler in the world, suffered a shock 9-4 12-1 thrashing at the hands of legendary fellow Scot David Gourlay.

“I hardly play these days,” admitted 46-year-old Gourlay, who is heavily committed in his coaching role. “I just play in Tour events, so I have been practising a lot since arriving in Potters, and I’m obviously very pleased with the way things are going.”

Earlier, in another all-tartan tussle, Stewart Anderson was relieved to get past Steven Allan, winning with the last bowl of the third end of the best-of-three-ends tiebreak, 7-6, 3-9, 2-1.

Anderson, who was runner up in the world indoor singles in 2010, spent a couple of years in Wales, but has returned to his native country, and seems to be back to his best.

Allan, invited to compete at Potters after winning the WIBC world indoor singles title, gave him a thorough testing, but Anderson’s class showed through when he drew the winner with only four or five inches to spare.

Irish-born Scot Jonathan Ross, who inexplicably has yet to progress beyond the quarter-finals of a WBT ranking event, faced England qualifier Pat Briscoe, from Kent, and, after being forced into a tiebreak, came out on top, 12-6, 7-8, 2-0.

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