Norfolk’s fortunes continued to flourish last night when ‘Mr Reliable’ Mervyn King, who won the title in 2006, reached the quarter-finals of the open singles with a extraordinary 7-6, 4-14, 2-0 win over Scotland’s former Irish international Jonathan Ross.

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A big cheer went up at the finish, but, until then, Norfolk supporters in the arena, who included King’s son Sam, held their breath for long spells, especially in the second half, when their hero seemed to lose his touch.

“I don’t know what happened in the second set,” admitted King afterwards.

“I just didn’t know where the bowls were going.

“The temperature in the auditorium changed, and it got a lot colder – but the green didn’t slow up, as it has in the past.

“I realise I only scored one end in that set, when I took a full house of four shots on the third end,” he added.

“But Jonathan played really well, and took advantage of the fact that I was struggling.

“It came to the point that I think I accepted I was going to lose the set, and just hoped I could regain my touch in the tiebreak – so I don’t think you can read too much into the score in that second set.

“I’ve lost game like that before, so it was nice to win one for a change.”

King pointed to his form in the first set, which was, to be fair, very good indeed – but it must be a concern that someone who is drawing to a proverbial sixpence suddenly loses touch, and struggles to get within a couple of feet of the jack.

The consolation for King is that everyone in this year’s championships seems to be suffering a similar fate, and there has been a tantalising mixture of miraculous bowls and those that should be consigned to the bowls dustbin.

King was glad to get a win over Ross, not just because it got him into the last eight, but because his head-to-head record against the talented Irish star, who now plays out of the Paisley club in Scotland, is not good.

As for his next opponent, standing between King and a place in the semi-finals is Paul Foster, who emerged yesterday as hot favourite for the title when he beat last year’s runner up, the popular but unpredictable Welshman Jason Greenslade.

Later Foster admitted he could have played better – but it was hard to see which aspects of his games needed improving. The final score, 10-3, 10-4 says it all.

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