Paul Foster and Alex Marshall take world indoor pairs crown at Potters

Alex Marshall and Paul Foster finally secured the world pairs title at Potters – but not without a big scare against qualifiers Michael Stepney and Andrew Barker.

Elgin underdogs Stepney and Barker have been a revelation at Potters this year, having knocked out the defending champions and reached the final without dropping a set – and it looked like they were up to their old tricks when they took the opening set of the final 8-3.

However, the number two seeds dug deep to win an enthralling second 7-3 and take the two tiebreak ends to seal the world title at Potters title – a crown they have been going for as a pair since 2004.

The qualifiers from Elgin made an assured start, taking two shots after a measure in first end, while Stepney's drive kept the number two seeds to one in the second end.

Stepney was at it again to pluck a shot with the last wood of the third, and another two delicious deliveries extended their lead after four despite Marshall's best efforts.


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Marshall's excellent drive did bring a shot back and, taking the opportunity to shorten the rink, the favourites clawed another one as the East Lothian Co-op produced some magic.

Barker adjusted to the length better than his partner, re-establishing his pair's three shot lead and the chance to lengthen the rink again.

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A superb final wood from Marshall kept the qualifiers to one shot from the penultimate end, but the Elgin duo made safe the opening set 8-3 as, needing a full house, Marshall put number three in the ditch.

The second seeds needed a change in momentum, and Marshall's exquisite fourth gave them the opening shot of the second set, before he rolled up to add another after two ends.

But Stepney was not to be outdone, flicking off one wood into the jack to turn a two-shot deficit into a trio that Marshall could only reduce by one.

By now the final was absorbing, as Forster restored their lead and Marshall doubled it by the fifth, before a Stepney sizzler pinched one back from a tight spot.

Marshall just failed to take advantage after Stepney's drive to make it 5-3 after seven, and picked up another heading into the ninth end where the favourites bullied their way to take the second set 7-3 and send the final into tiebreaks.

There the favourites' composure told, as the sealed the first two ends to bag their first pairs title together.

• Earlier in the day, defending singles champion Greg Harlow made safe passage into the second round with a comfortable 7-4 13-3 win over Irish qualifier Gary Kelly.

City of Ely man Harlow will face former world champion and his pair's partner earlier in this year's tournament, John Price, Wednesday – the day after his mixed pairs final.

'I've played John a few times and have a pretty good record against him,' said Harlow. 'I expected a tough game with Gary – I think he'll definitely win this event sometime in the future.

'It took me a few ends to settle down, then I was fine. I think Gary missed every drive – he just needs more experience on this rink.

'I really enjoyed that game – the first set was very close. I then got away in the second.'

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