Famous victory for Acle ace Stone
Acle ace Tim Stone pulled himself together after a poor start to claim a famous victory in the first round of the WBT world indoor singles at Potters Leisure Resort on Tuesday.
Stone, who hit the headlines last year when he rushed from the birth of his first-born in Norwich to dispose of Graham Smith, saw off the challenge of legendary Scot David Gourlay in a thrilling encounter that went to the wire.
Supported by well over a hundred Acle club members, Stone recovered after a disappointing start to win 8-9, 10-8, 2-1.
'That's probably my best achievement to date, partly because of who I was playing, and partly because it took me further than I have been before in this world event,' said Stone. 'Something got to me at the start, and I dropped eight shots in the first four ends, but my confidence returned when I fought back, and got into a situation where I could have won the first set,' he said.
'In the second set, which was extremely tight, I managed to score a full house of four shots on the penultimate end that virtually guaranteed me a tie-break.'
Gourlay was full of praise for the precision with which Stone removed his saving bowl: 'He did it with such delicate weight – which we all know is one of the most difficult shots to play on the portable rink,' he said.
Upstairs, Stone's wife Bec, and son Harry, who celebrated his first birthday last week, gave their approval to his famous victory, which sets him up for a second round clash with the winner of today's game between top Scot Alex Marshall and Durham's Glenn Skipp.
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Meanwhile Player of the Year Mervyn King, on the title trail again, believes that the work-out he received from Scottish PBA qualifier John Candlish will stand him in good stead. Examining his 10-4, 5-5 scorecard. the Norfolk player said: 'To be honest, I feel relieved to be in the second round, because John played some really good bowls, and, despite the scoreline, that game could have gone either way.'
King, of course, is no stranger to World Bowls Tour glory, having reached his first world indoor singles final in 1998, but he had to wait until 2006 to lift the sport's most prestigious trophy.
'That was a great first round tussle,' he added. 'The first set looks comfortable, but it was no cake-walk, and the second set could have gone either way – so I was relieved to avoid a tie-break.'
When King dropped two shots on the seventh end of the second set, it was the only double scored in nine ends, and, at 3-5, the Gallow star had to pull out all the stops to avoid being taken into a tie-break.
'I held shot on the eighth end, and decided not to play my last bowl, which I think surprised a few people in the spectators' gallery, but I was happy with a single,' King explains.
'Whether I scored a one or a two, I still had to win the next end to win the match, and I played the last end really well.'
Even so, after he propelled his first two bowls to within six inches of the jack, King was set back on his heels when Candlish knocked them both out, but his third and fourth bowls were even better.
'Trouble was, all John had to do was to hit the head, and the jack was bound to go his way, because he had the back position and re-spots covered,' recalls King. 'And I knew he would be close.'
True enough, Candlish hit his target, and the jack did go to the Scot's back bowls, but, as luck would have it, one of King's bowls trundled through into shot position, and a tied set suited the Norfolk man down to the ground.
It was a bad day for the 2009 champion Billy Jackson, who lost out to his England team-mate Brett Arkley, and for Ipswich star Phillip Last, who went down to world number five Simon Skelton.