England versus Scotland showdown ends all square at Potters

Potters 2017
Nick Brett & Stewart Anderson await the result of a tense measure.

Potters 2017 Nick Brett & Stewart Anderson await the result of a tense measure. - Credit: Archant

This event at Potters carries a World tag, and is styled as the Greatest Bowls Show on Earth, but by the time we reached the quarter-final stage bowlers from overseas - and even those from Ireland and Wales - had made a discreet exit.

The last eight who were slugging it out for places in the semi-finals were all from England and Scotland - four from each, as it happened, and, in fact, they lined up in a battle of the Auld Enemies in all four quarter-finals.

In the first, Potters' very own Bowls Ambassador Greg Harlow took on Bowls Scotland's head coach David Gourlay, and an entertaining match ensued - though it was a shame that it ended with a play Harlow, with endearing honesty, admitted was a fluke.

It was one of those games that really do answer to the description of 'a game of two halves', with Gourlay playing awesome bowls in the first set, and Harlow dominating in the second. It also went down to the wire and it was Harlow who got over the line,5-8, 10-4, 2-1.

On the third end of the tiebreak, Gourlay played a brilliant bowl to get the shot, leaving Harlow, who had the last bowl to play, in serious trouble - though he was only one down.

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'I had two chances,' Harlow explained afterwards. 'I could have taken out David's shot bowl, or I could have pushed his second bowl on to the jack, and got the shot at the back of the rink - but I was fractionally off target.'

His running bowl clipped a red Gourlay bowl, which actually pushed the shot even closer to the jack, but the jack moved a couple of inches, and Harlow, who took the shot, immediately raised his hand to apologise.

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'That was hard to take, but it's all in the game,' said Gourlay.

Next up was the defending champion Nick Brett, from Huntingdon, who found Blantyre's Stewart Anderson in scintillating form and was bundled out by the best display of drawing bowls we have seen on the carpet during these championships.

Brett was a tad below his best, and had very little going for him by way of luck - but he freely admitted after signing a 10-5, 10-2 card that, even at his very best, he would have struggled to match Anderson's pin-point accuracy.

At this stage, it was one-all in the England-versus-Scotland stakes, and the 'home-side' looked poised to take the lead when Norfolk-born Jamie Chestney, the 14th seed, won the first set against Scot Paul Foster, and scored a treble on the first end of the second set.

But when Chestney's challenge faded slightly, and Foster found his touch, the game turned on its head and a tiebreak was inevitable. Foster won the first end with his last bowl, but Chestney's first bowl remained in place for the whole of the second end - one-apiece.

Foster killed the sudden death third end, forcing a replay, and propelled his first bowl to the jack on the replay. Now, it was Chestney's turn to nominate a kill - but he missed his target with all three of his bowls, and had to concede defeat, Foster winning, 6-10, 10-4, 2-1.

Last night, Les Gillett played steadily to beat Arbroath's Commonwealth Games champion Darren Burnett, in a match that the Scot described as 'a frustrating stop-start affair'.

Like Brett, Burnett was below his best, but he played what looked like a set-winning shot at the end of the first set, only to see the jack bounce back up the green. 'Those things can be massive,' Burnett said, after Gillett returned an 8-4, 8-4 card.

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