Gillett and Greenslade win dramatic pairs final at Potters
- Credit: Archant
In a remarkable final, in which the winning shot was played with the very last bowl of the match, the Anglo-Welsh combination of Les Gillett and Jason Greenslade defeated the all-Welsh duo Dan Salmon and Damian Doubler 7-7, 8-6 to win the Just World Indoor Pairs title at Potters Resort.
Gillett, the sole Englishman on the carpet, and Greenslade were approximately twice as old as their opponents, and their experience told in the end after the younger pair threatened to win both sets at a canter. Salmon and Doubler let a 7-1 lead slip in the first set, and were 5-0 ahead in the second when they dropped a four and three singles.
All three Welshmen are clubmates at the Cardiff club in Sophia Gardens. Doubler, the 27-year-old skip, described the defeat as heartbreaking, but was willing to take positives out of his week at Potters.
'It's been a good tournament for us,' he said. 'And I take my hat off to Jason (Greenslade), who played a pressure bowl to win the title.'
The bowl that Doubler was referring to was the 216th of the match, and it was delivered by Greenslade when Salmon and Doubler were holding a match lie of two shots.
After the first set was tied, and the young pair's 5-0 lead in the second set had disappeared, Salmon and Doubler trailed by a single shot, 7-6, when the last end got under way – but Salmon, who is only 22, rose to the challenge and drew two great shots - both his bowls practically touching the jack. Greenslade's first response was to drive, but he succeeded only in removing Gillett's red bowl that was behind the jack, and his prospects suddenly looked bleak. Driving again, he hit his target, reducing the count to just one, and opened things up. With his final delivery, Doubler added another shot, but afterwards admitted he didn't think it was close enough - though the two green shots were effectively a set, match and championship lie.
Then came the clincher. Greenslade set off down the rink to deliver the last bowl of the match, only for his canny lead Gillett to call him back. Gillett had controlled the match from lead, and had something to say to his skip before he bowled such an important bowl.
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'I wanted to slow Jason down,' Gillett explained afterwards. 'He was off to the mat like a rat down a drainpipe and I needed to say something positive, so I simply told him this was the best chance he would ever have of winning a world title.'
Greenslade knew it was good as soon as it left his hand, but still followed the bowl up the rink, and shouted it home. It made it - just! Gillett's arms went up in the air, and the pair, who were playing together for the first time in these world championships, were the new world champions.
Gillett won the title with Mark McMahon in 2001, while Greenslade had appeared in three finals, in 2003, 2007 and 2012, each time with Rob Weale, but had lost every time.
Playing second fiddle to the pairs final at Potters were three first round matches in the Open Singles – but with Les Gillett and the top two seeds Nick Brett and Alex Marshall in action they were supporting acts of the highest quality.
There's always a perverse sense of fascination when seeds roll up. Are they going to be beaten? Yes, we all like to revel in shock results – but, although all three matches held our attention, there was no upset to get tongues wagging.
It was a busy day for Gillett, who got things going with a morning clash with Tom Warner, a promising young player from Salisbury, who says his favourite pastime is learning about tax affairs. No, really!
Warner led 6-2 in the first set but Gillett overhauled him with 2-1-2 sequence and recovered well enough from that disappointment to score a full house on end one, before opening up a 6-4 lead in the second.
This time Gillett went 2-1-1-2 and won 7-6, 10-6.
Reigning champion Brett was pushed all the way by Andy Kyle, an Irishman who earned his place in the qualifiers as the WIBC world indoor singles champion. Yes, like boxing, bowls has its rival governing bodies.
Kyle, bowling beautifully, trailed 5-6 with two ends to play in the first set but a relieved Brett collected two doubles to win the set 10-5. Kyle seemed to be on course for a tiebreak when he led 8-4 after seven ends of the second set but, again, two doubles enabled Brett to tie the set and win the match.
'It's what champions do,' said commentator Andy Thomson, now a veteran ex-champion, and we wondered if Alex Marshall would show similar strengths against Rob Chisholm, a Geordie who lives in Swansea, who came through the Welsh PBA play-offs.
Chisholm is adoughty opponent, and it was thought he might trouble Marshall – but the Scot was in imperious mood, particularly in the first set, and romped home 13-1, 6-4.
So, no accidents to report and, with the first round now complete, we can confirm that, after a dodgy start, only five of the 16 top seeds – Mark Dawes, Andy Thomson, Jason Greenslade, Jonathan Ross and Mark Royal – fell at the first hurdle.