No final glory for Norfolk’s Bex Field this year after tie-break exit to Ladies Matchplay at Potters
Thursday's Fred Olsen Cruise Lines women's world Matchplay singles final at Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton-on-Sea will be an England versus Australia affair.
Top Aussie Karen Murphy, who lost in last year's final, will be attempting to stop Debbie Stavrou, from the Desborough club in Maidenhead, winning the title for the third time.
On Wednesday, while Stavrou defeated defending champion Ali Merrien, from Guernsey, 9-3 9-8, Murphy sent local supporters away disappointed, after edging home 8-6 4-10 2-1 against Norfolk's Bex Field.
The young Norwich star made the better start, opening a 3-0 lead before Murphy surged back to lead 8-3. Field rallied, and came tantalisingly close to winning the opening set, but ran out of time to close the gap.
Taking control in the second set, Field allowed the Aussie, who won a Commonwealth gold medal in 1998, to score on only two ends, and went into the tie-break with the momentum firmly behind her.
Murphy took first blood in the tie-break, but Field levelled at one-set apiece, and it went to the wire, Murphy drawing the winning shot with her third bowl on the sudden death deciding end.
Field's last bowl was a brave attempt to save the day, but was slightly under-greened. However, the 22-year-old University of East Anglia graduate had showed a lot of promise and made many friends with all her performances on her Potters debut.
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Earlier, Merrien, who did the singles and mixed pairs double last year, and was appointed MBE in the New Year's Honours List, was disappointed with her form as she lost to her nemesis, Stavrou.
For some reason, Merrien does not seem to be able to beat Stavrou, who defeated her in the 2009 and 2010 finals. But the Channel Islander shrugs off any suggestion that she is jinxed.
'I don't believe in that sort of thing,' she said. 'I just didn't play well enough – it's as simple as that!'
Stavrou, who was nervous about switching from red to green bowls for the semi-final, need not have worried – she came up trumps with a fine performance.
After partnering David Gourlay to the mixed pairs title on Tuesday, she is now hoping to complete the notable double that Merrien achieved last year.
Ross Owen, the fresh-faced teenager from South Wales who bundled the defending champion Paul Foster out of the singles in the first round on Monday, came close to performing another giant-killing yesterday.
Facing his compatriot John Price, a man he has looked up to as he has honed his skills, Owen was slow to start, but looked sharp as he took the second set, and was slightly unfortunate not to win the tie-break.
Five former world champions have already been eliminated, and the 51-year-old Price, who won the title in 1992, could easily have been the sixth – but he held his nerve to win 11-5 5-8 2-1.
In last night's late match, former champion Robert Weale was a 7-4 8-7 winner against Simon Skelton.
In the quarter-finals the Welshman will face the winner of Thursday's match between Darren Burnett and Robert Paxton.
Women's Matchplay singles, semi-finals: D Stavrou (England) bt A Merrien (Guernsey) 9-3 9-8; K Murphy (Australia) BT R Field (England) 8-6 4-10 2-1.
Open singles, 2nd round: J Price (Wales) bt R Owen (Wales) 11-5, 5-8, 2-1; Robert Weale (Wales) bt Simon Skelton (Eng) 8-4 8-7.