Giantkilling exploits added to the fun at Potters

Charlie Bence in action against Nicky Brett. Photo: David Rhys Jones

Charlie Bence in action against Nicky Brett. Photo: David Rhys Jones - Credit: Archant

In a sport that is as fickle as bowls, and in which Lady Luck looms large, surprises are almost the norm and we've certainly had a few at Potters Resort since the Just World Indoor Bowls championship got under way on Thursday, January 11.

The way in which Charlie Bence, an irrepressible 71-year-old Scot, dashed the hopes of the number 16 seed Mark Dawes 4-9,10-7, 2-1 and almost toppled the reigning champion and number one seed Nick Brett, was dramatic, entertaining and inspiring.

As underdogs go, Charlie surely took the biscuit, but there was also the achievement of dedicated Kiwi Debbie Wilford, who did her gender proud by beating the number 11 seed Mark Royal, from Suffolk, 10-4, 7-7 - and, although she lost in straight sets in the second round, she made legendary Scot Paul Foster reach for his 'A' game.

Other outsiders like America's Neil Furman, Ireland's Graham McKee and Scots-born James Rippey, from Halstead, sent seeded players packing, Furman beating pairs champion Jason Greenslade, McKee accounting for Anglo-Scot Andy Thomson and Rippey getting the better of Jonathan Ross.

No fewer than five of the 16 seeds came down to earth with a bump in the first round but class, like cream, tends to come to the top and the audacious giant-killers met their match in the second round so that Friday's quarter-finals bristled with eight seeds.

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Normal service was resumed, and Saturday's semi-finals will feature four of the usual suspects, who all look very much at home on the portable rink.

The semi-finals will be staged in tandem with an event that was run for the first time as an experiment in 2016. Four youngsters – Martin Puckett, Ellen Ryan, Joe Mower and Jason Banks – will compete for the Just World Under 25 Matchplay Singles title.

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Mower, a 19-year-old Welshman who has moved to Scotland in response to Cupid's arrows, won the inaugural title last year. and will face Puckett, 24, from the Weymouth-based Moonfleet 2000 Club, while Banks, 20, from Inverurie in Aberdeenshire, comes up against 19-year-old Aussie Ellen Ryan.

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