King knocked out of world pairs

Top Scots Paul Foster and Alex Marshall, who have won the WBT world indoor singles title nine times between them, defeated Norfolk's Mervyn King and Aussie Kelvin Kerkow, 6-5, 10-7 in the semi-finals of the pairs championship at Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton-on-Sea on Monday.

A highly compatible duo, who were hoping that they might win the title together for the third time, King and Kerkow were never in the lead in either set, as the Scots stamped their authority on proceedings.

Given the skill and reputation of their opponents, who won the Commonwealth Games pairs together in 2006, it is surprising that this is the first time that Foster and Marshall have reached the final in eight attempts.

The Scots, who are both perfectionists, revealed that they have altered their approach this year, after deciding they tend to be too hard on themselves when things don't go their way.

'We are big mates, and, after a heart-to-heart session, we decided to play a more open game, and to congratulate each other even when mistakes are made,' said Marshall,


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'So even some bad shots are getting high-fives!'

The first set could have gone either way, but, at 4-4 with two ends to play, Foster and Marshall struck with a double on the eighth end, and King and Kerkow had to settle for a single on the ninth.

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Two Scottish trebles proved to be King and Kerkow's undoing in the second set, and, although they struggled gallantly over the last few ends, they found it impossible to make up deficits of 1-6 and 3-9, as the Scots won, 6-5, 10-7.

Referring to the way Kerkow missed a chance to tie – or even win – the first set with his last bowl, Foster said: 'Yes, they were in with a chance, but, if he'd got it, it would have been a travesty after the way we controlled the set.'

The result of the other semi-final, in which Elgin's Andy Barker and Mike Stepney defeated Mark Royal and Simon Skelton, means that, for the first time in the history of the event, next week's final will be an all-Scottish affair.

Barker and Stepney, who have been in great form, are the first PBA qualifiers to reach the pairs final since Duncan Robinson and Brett Morley did so in 1997.

'They were excellent,' said Royal. 'There was absolutely no fluke about it, and, if we had just snatched the second set and taken them into a tie-break, it would have been a major injustice.'

A full house of four shots on the third end of the first set put the Scots 7-3 ahead, and they cruised home without having to play the last end.

Royal and Skelton put up more resistance in the second set, and were actually in front, 4-3, with three ends to play – but a single and two well-taken Scottish doubles saw Barker (24) and Stepney (30) home.

'I was particularly disappointed with the rink,' said Royal. 'I was finishing wide too often, but when I tried to correct the line, I dipped underneath. I found it very frustrating.'

King, who was clearly disappointed, said: 'I won't have time to dwell on it, because I'm back on the rink tomorrow (Tuesday) playing another Scot, John Candlish, in the first round of the singles.'

Acle ace Tim Stone takes on the legendary David Gourlay this afternoon before King's Gallow clubmate Jamie Chestney makes his first round appearance – against Mark Royal – tomorrow morning.

There were two first round singles matches yesterday, with two Welsh players, Jason Greenslade and Robert Weale, coming through in straight sets against Neil Furman from the United States and Craig Rimmington from South Africa respectively.

The pairs final, which is being televised by the BBC, takes place on Monday, starting at 1pm.

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