Outsiders spring first day shock

The WBT world indoor pairs championships got off to a cracking start at Potters Leisure Resort on Friday night when young Elgin qualifiers Andrew Barker and Mike Stepney defeated a top Welsh pair, and clinched a place in the quarter-finals of the sport's flagship event.

But, in the second match, Norfolk's own Mervyn King and his Aussie mate Kelvin Kerkow, who are hoping to lift the title for the third time together, steadied the ship, and chalked up a 10-5, 7-7 win over the Welsh PBA qualifiers Owain Dando and Paul Williams.

Dando and Williams were well beaten in the first set, but more than held their own in the second, and a tiebreak looked on the cards when they got their noses in front at 7-6, with only one end left to play.

On a keenly contested last end, King and Kerkow did just enough to claim the vital single, tying the set, and winning the match by 1� sets to �.

They will now challenge a new-look pair, comprising two of the BBC's pundits, John Price and reigning singles champion Greg Harlow, who have both competing with distinction in the past, but with different partners.

But the real excitement came in the opening game, when the young, upwardly mobile Scots were never overawed by the skill and reputation of their opponents – Commonwealth Games singles gold medallist Robert Weale and world number seven Jason Greenslade.

Taking a 7-1 lead in the first set, they held on grimly as the Welsh charged back to 7-5, but the second set always had the look of a tiebreak about it as Greenslade and Weale kept their noses in front for the first few ends.

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Barker and Stepney stayed in the hunt, however, and, when they levelled the scores at 5-5, they looked poised to create an early shock – but a Welsh double on the next end set their hopes back.

A well-taken Scottish single on the next end meant they were only one shots adrift, and you could have cut the tension with a a knife as the last end began, with the Scots simply needing to score to record an historic victory.

To loud applause from the impartial English, Barker and Stepney claiomed the single to tie the set, won the match, 7-5, 7-7, and set up a quarter final clash with defending champions Ian Bond and Andy Thomson.

Earlier, BBC commentator David Corkill, who last week won the Irish indoor singles title, came close to qualifying for the main event, but, with Belfast clubmate Chris Eadie, had to give best to Aussies Barry Lester and Jay Globits.

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