Islander goes to battle with continental star and wins

Apart from the Norfolk interest, that always enlivens the arena at Potters, yesterday was all about the women's singles final, in which the Channel Island of Guernsey faced the might of the whole subcontinent of Australia.

Forget the Ashes – this was another international sporting contest with the winner taking everything.

Guernsey's Alison Merrien, who had lost to England's Debbie Stavrou in the last two finals, won a nail-biting encounter against top Aussie Karen Murphy, and pocketed the �5,000 first prize.

Murphy – like the other six unsuccessful competitors in the field – had to settle for just �350.

Merrien opened confidently, and was always in control of the first set, winning it, 9-5, but the second set offered a fresh start to the Australian.


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Murphy, who has won one gold and two silver medals at the Commonwealth Games, grabbed her chance, and outplayed the Channel Islander so emphatically that Merrien was not allowed a single shot, as the Aussie piled up 11.

With the momentum behind her, Murphy took the first end in the best-of-three-ends tie-break, but a superb last-gasp draw from Merrien on the second end squared things yet again: one-all in sets, and one-all in ends, with everything depending on the third end of the tie-break.

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You could have cut the atmosphere with a knife but both players thrive on pressure and rose to the challenge magnificently.

Murphy skilfully delivered the opening bowl to within an inch of the jack.

The trouble with that, from the Aussie's point of view, was that it was level with the jack, and presented a target to Merrien, who is pretty nifty with an attacking bowl.

BBC commentators David Corkill and Greg Harlow agreed that Merrien should drive at the target to put the jack in the ditch or hit the shot off the rink – but the Vale star played her own shot, and opted for finesse rather than force, gently tucking the jack round the corner.

'I felt it was a such a small target, and my first objective was to get something close,' said Merrien.

'That's why I stuck to the draw but I couldn't have dreamed of achieving a better result.'

Murphy was left desperately attempting to 'kill' the end, something that can be done only on the third end of a tie-break, but, when the Aussie's final delivery sailed by harmlessly, Merrien's arms were raised in triumph.

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