The last 16 players of this year’s Waterloo Handicap were greeted with a very wet green at the start of the day. Those that ventured on to practice were having to lift the bowls to get sort of distance and not many stayed on longer than to loosen the arm up.
The squeegee did its job and we started on time
Andy Thornton 08 v Paul Dale 21
Paul started the first few ends slightly better & had a 9-6 lead before Andy get the pace of the green. From playing 30 odds yards the game switched to a longer length as the conditions slightly eased.
With water flying into the air of the bowls and chattering through the standing water the standard was more than decent, Paul just having better control of length and breezed (a damp breeze) into a 15-8 lead. The control Paul was showing over the full, or near enough, distance was impressive, and Andy was unable to pick anything when he was too far. A comfortable but soggy win for the Potteries man 21-08
Gareth Gwilliam 21 v Noel Burrows 18
Gareth started the better, important as a lifelong panel man Noel can play any conditions. Gareth was by far the better over the long length and Noel had to switch to shorter marks to back to within a pair.
Noel though was leaving Gareth too much room with his leads, far too much room at times. But then a switch was pressed, and Noel fired up the after burners and he lay to 19-14 up before Gareth had to play a stunning bowl to get back in it. They swapped jacks and Gareth was the first to 19. Noel is unlucky to not count when playing through and Gareth wins next end, Noel cursing his poor start.
Michael Sweeney 21 v Ian Grady 13
Ian started the better and Mike had to change his length to catch him out. Mike went 4 in front before Ian got the jack back.
Ian was favouring the longer length and Mike with his swoopy delivery the shorter marks. Although rain was failing the green was draining well. It was Michael who was finding the length better, really well in fact and he had too much for Ian. His leads to the middle of the green were good and his second bowls protected his leads really well. There wasn’t much Ian could do to stop and Michael won 21-13.
Mike Tunstall 13 v Glynn Cookson 21
Neither player would have been phased by these conditions. Mike can reach with no problem and Glynn won it in similar conditions in 2001.
Glynn started better, flicking them to a 10-5 lead. When Mike got in he kept it shorter. To be honest Mike was not stepping in when he needed to and as such Glynn could stretch the lead. Mike being Mike will claim, although Glynn played better, that he was cursed, there again Tunners is always cursed. Glynn ran out the winner 21-13
Tom Brown 12 v Greg Smith 21
Tom knew he had to make a good start and he did. The first 3 ends went his way to single without anything dramatic happening.
Greg though is machine like with his leads. Short marks and leads nailed, Tom didn’t do anything wrong really but Gregs score crept up. The best to describe it is that Greg was totally relentless, lead after lead, second bowl after second bowl. Tom looked to be wondering what he had to do as to be completely honest he played really well. Only at the end did he lose his length a bit. A stunning performance from Greg.
Gary Wike 21 v Kevin Nicholas 15
A couple of lose ends from Kevin gave Gary the start he wanted. It was a game where good bowls followed bad bowls which followed good bowls in worsening conditions.
Gary was playing more of the good bowls than Kev and the odd little rub always helps.
Stuart King 21 v Ashley Daykin 12
This was a Yorkshire battle, a proper game to be looked forward to in shocking weather.
Stuart was up for it & was putting up some excellent bowls in the corners. If it wasn’t the lead it was the second bowl. Ashley was going through gaps and slicing the jack the wrong way.
Stunning bowls from Ashley were required to count. Stuart was playing his own to get the jack back.
It was just the consistency of Stuart’s play that proved too much for Ashley.
Darren Woodend 17 v Lee Johnstone 21
Both players started this game well, regular bowls within 18 inches. There wasn’t a lot of leeway for bad bowls as both men were adept in these conditions.
This was game swung, Lee just in front for most of it. Only a good strike stopped Darren getting to 19 first though. Darren will be cursing his last end. Lee sent it out finger peg towards toilet corner. Darren flips his peg, is tight then short when a yard bowl would have won the end.
The draw for the last 8 is:
Paul Dale (Congleton) v Gareth Gwilliam (Hyde)
Michael Sweeney (Huddersfield) v Glynn Cookson (Winsford)
Greg Smith (Birmingham) v Gary Wike (Leeds)
Stuart King (Huddersfield) v Lee Johnstone (Warrington)