The final day of the Co-operative funeralcare International Open held at Blackpool Newton Hall had a packed house for what turned into the battle of the MBE’s. Defending Champion Alex Marshall MBE faced his friend and fellow country man Paul Foster MBE in the final. Between them they hold nine World Singles titles and many more other national, international and commonwealth games titles. And the crowd settled down for a battle royale. The first set was enthralling. A game of draw on draw and each player outplaying the last delivery of his opponent. End six had to be seen to be believed. The jack driven into the ditch then between them they delivered three bowls within 8inches of the edge. What a master class it was. All square playing the last end of the first set and it was a draw that saw Foster across the line at 9-8. The second set Foster upped a gear, if it was possible, and left Marshall with nowhere to go. Relentless drawing shot after shot after shot. And with three ends to spare the World No1 Foster powered home 15-3 and picked up the title of Co-operative funeralcare International Open Champion 2014. “I’m delighted to win here in Blackpool. I was so disappointed to lose here in the first round last year, so I just wanted to come and play well and I’m over the moon to win the title.”
The Co-operative funeralcare International Open defending Champion Alex Marshall MBE had the crowds on the edge of their seats during his quarter final against Greg Harlow from Cambridge. The packed crowds at Blackpool Newton Hall were treated to a wonderful game of bowls. Alex took a tidy lead in the first set leading 6-4 after seven ends, only to drop a four in an unusually untidy end and see the first set slip away to Harlow 9-6. The second set saw the scores peeling up to six ends then Alex produced an outstanding end and gained a three to take a 7-4 lead. Harlow picked a two up on the eighth end but Marshall finished the set off with a two on the ninth end. The first quarter final of the day had the nerves on edge with the players going into a tie break. And what a tie break it was, both players performing at the heights their seeding suggests. The events No1 seed Marshall taking the first end over No8 seed Harlow. The second end Marshall held shot till Harlow’s last bowl, where he expertly ran at the head and scored the shot to win the end. The final end, again, went down to the last bowl, Harlow holding two, Marshall left with a tricky runner which he expertly executed to perfection and the defending champion is through to the Semi-Finals 6-9 9-6 2-1.
The Co-operative funeralcare International Open at Blackpool Newton Hall has treated the crowds to some magnificent games today. And one game in particular proved an epic. The game of the day saw World ranked No3 David Gourlay pitted against World No13 Jason Greenslade. Inch bowls were not good enough as a tight game of wits and shot play ensued. The first set went all the way to the last end, where after several timeouts claimed by both players, it all finished in a tied set at 6-6. The second set saw the Head Coach of Team Scotland Commonwealth game’s side, Gourlay, use all his experience to edge into a lead and take the set and the game. Gourlay said, “I have lost to Jason the last twice we have met, so I know he isn’t easy to beat. I was disappointed to tie the first set but Jason played some superb bowls. The second set was tight too but I’m pleased to be through to the quarter finals tomorrow,” Gourlay was shouted on by a very appreciative crowd here at Blackpool, “I had some amazing Support from the crowds, which was lovely, I’d like to thank them for that.”Next up Gourlay faces Sunderland’s Gary Smith in a re match of the game at the Scottish International Open which saw Gourlay see off Smiths challenge in Perth, ”Gary is one of the best draw players in the game and I will have to be at my best to beat him,” said Gourlay.
Roused by local vocal support Blackpool’s own Chris Gale took the reigning World Champion Darren Burnett out of the Co-operative funeralcare International Open here at Blackpool Newton Hall. And what a treat the game was. Gale with relentless drawing skills had Burnett on the rack from the first end. A delighted Chris Gale said, “I knew I had to get off to a good start and then just keep the momentum going. When I scored the two fours in the first set at ends three and five, I just kept thinking, keep calm and keep plodding away.” Gale won the first set with an emphatic 12-4 score line. “Second set was a fresh start and I tried to keep the same concentration and focus. I’m so please to win the game and with the way I played. I would like to thank the crowd for their support it created a fantastic atmosphere. I just hope they all return to support again on Thursday.” Gale plays Simon Skelton in the next round on Thursday. “I’m looking forward to it, I have played him outdoors before but never in a WBT event. I asked him how he was going to celebrate the first round victory. “Well it’s only the first round and I have to stay focused. I promised my wife Jen if I won today I would treat her to a Chinese so that’s where we are off to now then I am back later tonight to practice ready for Thursday.”
The second days games of the World Bowls Tour Co-Operative funeralcare International Open here at Blackpool Newton Hall have seen some great bowling from all involved. A couple of top seeds have faced a shaky first round. One or two have been rattled. And one or two have been rolled out, but in the main the top sixteen in the World have rolled through to round two. ‘Shaken’ was Scotland’s Stewart Anderson who faced tough opposition in the name of fellow country man Colin Walker, Walker being one of the players on the edge of the top sixteen. And the game went right to the wire with Anderson just scraping though. Another seed that got shaken out of the tournament today was No14 ranked Jon Ross. In what was the best game of the day England’s Gary Smith (Stanley) proved the threat he is in these events by scuttling the Irish mans chances and taking the game 6-6 6-8.
The Nick Brett v Danny Brown match opened up with Brett taking a three off Brown in the very first end and Brown then retaliating with excellent draw bowls to whip a single back in the second end and continued this to take a further two on the third end. Brett managed to take a single on the fourth and Danny missed an opportunity to remove Brett’s only bowl in the head in the fifth end and dropped a further single to leave the score at a tight 4 all. End six saw Brett take a count of four as Brown just missed a last bowl conversion try by a matter of millimetres and Brett wound up his drawing skills to sit a three with Brown trying a timed bowl to clear and just got the wrong side but managed to cut it down to a single leaving Brett in the lead 9 shots to four going into the seventh end.
Blackpool Newton Hall Indoor Bowls Club has been transformed over the last three days following immediately on from the Just Retirement World Indoor Championships. With Carpenters, Lighting and Technical crews the stage has been set for the International Open 2014 and with SKY television coming in to show the latter stages live on Sky Sports 3 and 4 for the latter stages it has been all go. Players have been arriving since yesterday to put in a bit of practice on the blue and all is set ready for the first day tomorrow with matches starting at 09.45am. All matches will be streamed live on 247.tv for this event. Although the final is already sold out there are still a few tickets left for the other days and these are obtainable by ringing 01253 301447.