Malaga Two Bowls Pairs
29th October - 1st November 2023
Lauro Golf Bowls Club
2 Bowls Pairs is a tricky discipline. Normally Pairs players have 4 bowls each.
The focus on achieving success without the safety net of those extra bowls has to be complete.
You have to be in your game from the first end. Falling behind by 3 or 4 shots is very difficult to come back from.
The Malaga 2 Bowl Pairs is now played as an “Open Pairs”, teams could be any combination, limited only by being from the same Club and of course holding a Federation licence.
In the first round, pre-tournament favourites, Lauro's Paul Hughes and Kevin Westwell - who rarely lose on their home ground - got off to a strong start against Club mates Dine and John Warn.
The surprise result was probably Ken Pritchard and Peter Meyerhoff - relative novices in FAB Competitions - take a good win against veterans Barbara Land and Mary Detheridge, having led from the first end to the last.
A couple of all Lauro matches produced some exciting bowling. The match between the previous day's surprise package Ken Pritchard and Peter Meyerhoff against Rob Wright and Terry Higgins went back and forth throughout with the scores level 11-11 after 15 ends but the more experienced pair picked up a crucial 3 shots on the 17th end.
The other all Lauro match saw couple Jane Richardson (partnered by Ann Anderson) and Paul Hughes (with Kevin Westwell) face off for the family bragging rights and of course a place in the Semi-Final.
Really good bowling from both teams saw the teams level at 15 ends, Jane and Ann take a 1 shot lead on the 16th end, Paul and Kevin take a one shot lead on the 17th end and Kevin rescue a potential extra end with a beautifully drawn last bowl to win 17-15.
In the other matches, Alan Gateshill and Nina McKenzie held off a spirited fightback from Simone Morgan and Pat Fisher to finish comfortable winners - having both bowled superbly all the way through.
Meanwhile Lauro's Jeff Turner and Graham Jarret had a fairly comfortable win against an out of sorts Tom McLean and Isabel McCarlie to complete the Semi-Final line up.
Paul Hughes and Kevin Westwell continued their procession towards the title with a comfortable win over fellow Lauro members Terry Higgins and Rob Wright. Paul led superbly putting pressure on the opposition from the start and when called on Kevin "mopped up" with his usual style, resulting in a 23-8 victory.
In the other Semi-Final Graham Jarret and Jeff Turner looked certain to make it an all Lauro final with an impressive 12-3 lead after 10 ends. However, Allen Gateshill and Nina McKenzie have a deserved reputation for staging late comebacks and did so again to draw level for the first time in the game on the 17th end. The Saydo pair snatched victory on the final end thanks to 2 perfectly drawn bowls from Allen.
In an exciting display of superb bowling the teams of Kevin Westwell and Paul Hughes (Lauro Golf Bowls Club) and Allen Gateshill and Nina McKenzie (Saydo Bowls Club) kept the spectators on the edge of their seats.
The early exchanges saw heads being changed frequently and the points being fairly evenly distributed. Allen and Nina led 5-3 after 7 ends but the next 5 ends saw everything change.
Kevin and Paul picked up a 3 after a loose end from their opponents, picked up an excellent 3 on the next after Kevin tickled the jack back a crucial 18 inches, picked up another 2 after 2 superb bowls from Paul and then from a position of 3 down Kevin trailed the jack into the ditch with his last bowl to pick up 4 shots and seemingly put the game out of sight.
On the 12th end with Allen and Nina looking to find a way back into the game and holding 3 Kevin again came in with his last bowl with a dead weight draw onto the jack and take the point.
!2 ends gone, 16-5 up, in 2 bowls pairs is a formidable lead and against most opp0nents would lead to a comfortable win. The story of the final looked like being the expected "procession to victory" of the impressive home pair.
Not against Allen and Nina. Their reputation for miraculous comebacks means they are never out of the game.
Sure enough they embarked on winning the remaining 6 ends and only 2 excellent saving bowls from Kevin on the 16th and particularly the 17th ends, conceding only single shots instead of 2 or 3 meant that Allen and Nina went into the last end still 3 behind. Only able to pick up 2 shots meant they just fell short of what would have been a fairy tale comeback.
In the end, that excellent middle 5 ends was enough to secure victory for Kevin and Paul but I am sure they will have breathed a collective sigh of relief at the end of the game.