World bowls great Alex Marshall is held by domestic rivals
Long mat legend Alex Marshall failed in his bid to edge out his short mat rivals when he lost 9-6 to Irish short mat champion Dessie Hamilton in the final game of the five-match Champion of Champions series.
Five-time world singles' champion Marshall, who along with Scottish compatriot Paul Foster retained their global pairs' crown at Potters earlier this year, finished tied level on two and half points against his national short mat competitors from across the British Isles in the round-robin format.
The innovative event aimed to pit a long mat star against short mat counterparts, with Marshall playing his domestic rivals over seven ends each in a continuous format. The Scot also lost his opener to World Singles' Champion Stephen Williams along with a defeat to Hamilton in the finale.
The Irishman was short with his opening bowl as he attempted to get the pace along with the length and line of the new short mat carpet. Marshall drew to the jack with his first wood.
Hamilton over compensated with his second wood and went to the back. Marshall went on to take a two shot lead when Hamilton's third wood fell away from the jack after his best effort.
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The second end opened with a short wood by Marshall but he recovered his position with his second. The end was decided by a great backhand wood by Hamilton to take two shots and level the game. A poor third end followed with both players short with their first two woods.
Marshall improved with his next two woods but could count himself lucky to take a count of three and lead 5-2 after Hamilton failed to perform at his usual standard. Hamilton was under pressure again on the next end and was relieved to cut Marshall down to just one shot with his final bowl on another end that saw its share of short woods played. 6-2 down with three ends to play meant that Hamilton needed to up his game and he certainly did putting Marshall under pressure with an excellent early wood.
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Hamilton enjoyed his best end yet taking three shots to cut the deficit to 6-5 as he finally found his form. On the penultimate end Hamilton held two shots when Marshall stepped up to play his final wood. Marshall fired in an attempt to drive the jack down the mat to where he held best back bowl but instead hit the block leaving Hamilton in front for the first time by 7-6.
The final end saw former double Commonwealth champion Marshall twice try a wide forehand draw with his last two woods and twice he went off the side of the mat to ensure Hamilton denied Marshall a chance to top the mini league.
Full results: Marshall 4 Stephen Williams 6 (World Singles Champion),
Marshall 8 Lawrence Moffat 2 (Scottish Singles Champion), Marshall 7 Dom Reed 7 (English Singles Champion), Marshall 5 Ceri Jones 4 (Welsh Singles Champion), Marshall 6 Dessie Hamilton 9 (Irish Singles Champion).