Heartbreak for Mervyn King in mixed pairs

Darren Burnett and Karen Murphy celebrate their mixed pairs victory over Mervyn King and Alison Merr

Darren Burnett and Karen Murphy celebrate their mixed pairs victory over Mervyn King and Alison Merrien yesterday. - Credit: Archant © 2013

Success for pairs skipped by top Scots Paul Foster and Darren Burnett in the Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines World Matchplay Mixed Pairs quarter-finals at Potters Leisure Resort has created chances of records being achieved over the next couple of days.

Foster, who played as well as his world number two status might suggest, received outstanding support from Welsh ace Laura Thomas, whose drawing throughout was impeccable, to beat another Welsh competitor, Kerry Packwood, and Stowmarket's Mark Royal, 9-1, 11-3.

Burnett, a Tayside police officer, had Australia's Karen Murphy, who won three gold medals in the world outdoor championships in Adelaide last month, at lead, and they edged home 8-3, 3-13, 2-1 in a thrilling contest that went down to the wire against Guernsey's Ali Merrien and Norfolk's own Mervyn King.

Foster and Burnett had already qualified for today's all-Scottish final of the WBT Pairs event – Foster with Alex 'Tattie' Marshall, and Burnett with up-and-coming star Stewart Anderson. Both, therefore, have a chance of becoming the first player to do the pairs double by winning the main pairs and the mixed pairs in the same year.

King and Merrien came so close to victory over Murphy and Burnett that they both used the same word to express their feelings – gutted.

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'I know we didn't start very well, but we pulled ourselves together, and did enough to win that game,' said Merrien. 'Mervyn played some magnificent bowls, including the out-of-this world draw that won us the second end of the tiebreak.'

Curiously Merrien and King seemed to have the first end of the tiebreak all sewn up when Burnett sent the jack into open space, and King, for once, was short in his attempt to draw the shot. Then, Murphy and Burnett dominated the second tiebreak end before King got the winner with a wonder bowl that was the last bowl of the end.

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Finally, Merrien set up what looked like a winning position on the sudden death last end, only for Burnett to draw the shot with the very last bowls of the match.

It was entertaining stuff for the large crowd that had battled through the snow to be there, but, for all the drama and excitement, the main emotion was disappointment as far as Merrien and King were concerned.

The other semi-final was so one-sided it needs little explanation other than the 9-1, 11-3 scoreline, and the losers – Kerry Packwood and Mark Royal – were full of praise and admiration for their opponents, Thomas and Foster.

'That's the best exhibition of two-bowl pairs play I've ever seen,' said Royal. 'Laura was a revelation at lead, and Paul was brilliant – though there was a time in the second set, when we led 3-2 after four, that I thought we had a chance of making a comeback.'

Thomas and Foster will play Murphy and Burnett in the final tomorrow but every eye today will be on the main pairs final in which Foster and Marshall come face to face with Anderson and Burnett.

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