The last 32 on the Waterloo Handicap, one of the three top prizes in the game started in, maybe not blazing but warm sunshine.
Andy Thornton and Mike Davies kept the crowd enthralled to the end. Each stepping in after an average lead was the theme of the game. There was never much between them all through the game.
Mike played a great running bowl to get to 20-18 then put both his bowls off the green next end to set up a last end. Andy was 2 yards short and then Mike was 6-inch shorter. Andy put his 2nd bowls a yard past and after taking a breath to two Mike played a two-foot bowl to win the game.
Mike now played Stuart Mort who kept his form from Saturday going with a convincing win over Darren Naylor. Whatever Darren tried Stuart was just too good on the day. A distance, over the middle, edges… didn’t matter. A 21-13 win took Stuart through.
Tim Houghton, the 2016 champion, also brought his form from Saturday. Playing through the middle of the green to the road and west stand he was a model of nagging consistency. As much as Simon Memmott tried Tim always had a bowl just short of the jack and in the way or a length bowl to the side of the jack leaving a gap. Such bowls are hard to beat on this green.
Barry Vinden had the better of the early stages against Kev Shaw, the Spring Champion. Kev was struggling to combine line with length and Barry was not as he kept the length to 30 something yards. After Kev combined with a good pair he changed the script. Barry seems to have bowls that could run a mile for you though and was not going to be easy to lose in the corners. So Kev changed to a bare length to take the lead at 13-12. Tapes were called and called again as the Westhoughton man found his length and consistency. Kev was playing marks not often played barely through the middle of the green which are usually the quickest. This tactic was the working and won him the game to 16.
James Martin, blue bowls twinkling in the sun, got off to a fantastic start against Graeme Wilson. Playing corners to the pub, he kept playing at least 1 really good bowls and end to claim the first 7 points of the game. The smoothest delivery in the game claimed his first points of the game and changed the mark, first edges then across the middle but he couldn’t lose the Huddersfield man. Indeed James grew into the game and Graeme couldn’t find the bowls to apply any pressure. Then a couple of ends with the jack and it was something different, it was the GI who had won more competitions than you can count in a leisurely afternoon. Suddenly there only an end separating them….then it was level. It became a battle that went the way of James Martin in the end and the crowd got there money’s worth.
Jon Palmer set off like a house on fire against Dan Petcher, maybe years playing together for KHP or just knowledge of Dan’s game but he was in complete control of the game. On paper a good game was very one-sided. If Dan played one it was licked such was the control Jon had.
Simon Coupe and John Bailey have played and won more games on here than most, well just about anyone bar a honoured few. Both dressed in black they are crown green ninjas on this green. The jack was a weapon both used to great effect, left against right hands, find your own land. John plays a couple of great bowls and Simon plays through, hits and runs through. It was Simon showing slightly greater accuracy. This proved to be too much for John and Simon ran out a 21-14 winner.
Ian France and Chris Bly brought the morning to a close. Ian used his left hand marks of only 20 something yards through the middle to great effect. Line and length are the key to this green and Ian had them. Chris got in though and decided a different sort of game was required. The change of length of the jack caught himself out more than Ian and it looked like they would both be happy over less than 35 yards. Ian ran out a fairly comfortable 21-14 winner using steady bowls.
Andy Thornton (Barrow) 20 v Mike Davies (Liverpool) 21
Darren Naylor (Cumbria) 13 v Stuart Mort (Blackpool) 21
Simon Memmott (Sheffield) 12 v Tim Houghton (Garstang) (-1) 21
Kevan Shaw (Westhoughton) 21 v Barry Vinden (Stalybridge) 16
Greame Wilson (Droysden) 20 v James Martin (Huddersfield) 21
Jon Palmer (Shrewsbury) 21 v Daniel Petcher (Derby) 6
Simon Coupe (Preston) 21 v John Bailey (Wales) 14
Chris Bly (Bury) 14 v Ian France (Cumbria) 21