Teenager Ross Owen beats Potters king Paul Foster in Fred Olsen Cruise Lines world indoor bowls championships at Hopton-on-Sea

Welsh teenager Ross Owen caused the biggest sensation of this year's world indoor championships at Potters by sending four-times winner and defending champion Paul Foster crashing in the first round of the Open Singles.

The International Arena at Potters Leisure Resort has seen some upsets in its day, but no-one was prepared for the eclipse of the defending champion and world number one, Paul Foster, in the first round of the Fred Olsen Cruise Lines world indoor singles championship.

As befits the holder of the title, Foster's first round match with Welsh rookie Ross Owen, who was 18 earlier this month, was held back until the BBC TV cameras arrived at the weekend.

Just as well, perhaps, because armchair viewers would otherwise have missed the exit of the man who was being tipped to equal the record of his friend and rival, five times world champion Alex Marshall.

Owen, a student, was seemingly unfazed by the razzmatazz of the portable rink. Playing brilliantly, he wrong-footed Foster, and returned a 9-9 7-5 scorecard.

'I knew that if I played like I can, I could match these guys, but I was nervous at the start, and dropped three shots on the first end,' said Owen, who dug deep to respond with a full house of four shots on the second end. When he added a treble on the third to go 7-3 ahead, we knew we had something special on our hands.

Foster had to produce a storming take-out with the last bowl of the set just to tie the set – so the fate of the match depended on the result of the second set.

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With both players in good form, Owen showed he has an extensive repertoire of shots, drawing and driving with equal facility, and Foster suffered a number of minor setbacks, when the rub of the green went against him. At 5-5 in the second set, Foster gave the shot away with an almost perfectly delivered bowl, and, on the last end, after Owen had drawn the potential winner, his running bowl held off and missed its target.

'I'm extremely disappointed to lose, but Ross, like a lot of youngsters, showed no fear, and played really well,' said Foster. 'He played two massive bowls, both when I was holding three shots. Once he ditched the jack, and the other time he drew the shot – and on yet another occasion I was unlucky to give the shot away.'

Foster was the fourth former champion to make a first round exit, the other three being Alex Marshall, Mervyn King and Billy Jackson.

He had little time to think about his defeat before returning to the rink for the pairs final, in which he and his pal Alex Marshall faced a stern challenge from Welsh duo Jason Greenslade and Rob Weale.

Foster and Marshall scored a four on the third end, but the first set could have gone either way and, when the Scots edged home, they proceeded to dominate the second set and won 7-6 11-1.

'It took us eight years trying before we managed to win the title last year,' said Foster. 'It's a great feeling to have won it back-to-back!'

Last night, everyone wondered if David Gourlay, now Head Coach for Bowls Scotland, might become the fifth former world champion to bite the dust – but he played superbly to beat Jonathan Ross 9-3 7-5.


Open singles, 2nd round

10am: Craig Rimmington (S Africa) v Andy Thomson (Eng)

Mixed Pairs, Final

1pm: David Gourlay & Debbie Stavrou v Paul Foster & Kerry Packwood

Open singles, 2nd round

7.30pm: Greg Harlow (Eng) v Nick Brett (Eng)


Ladies Singles, semi-finals

10am: Alison Merrien (Gue) v Debbie Stavrou (Eng). 3.30pm: Rebecca Field (Eng) v Karen Murphy (Aust)

Open singles, 2nd round

1.30pm: Ross Owen (Wales) v John Price (Wales). 7.30pm: Robert Weale (Wales) v Simon Skelton (Eng)