Journalist for the i newspaper, Bowls England National Finals commentator and a name well-known to bowlers, Emily Ferguson will be reviewing most days of the action at Victoria Park.
The penultimate day of the action saw a jam-packed schedule on the greens of Victoria Park, with the Quarter Finals of the Men’s Singles, the Semi Finals and Finals of the Women’s Triples, the medal matches of the Para Mixed Pairs B2-B3, and the Quarter Finals and Semi Finals of the Women’s Pairs and Men’s Fours.
Jamie Walker got off to a sterling start in the Quarter Finals and found himself 7-0 up against defending champion Aaron Wilson. But the Australian fought back to seven all and took the lead to go 16-9 up. Walker wasn’t going to go down without a fight however and picked up two doubles to get within touching distance once more. Wilson then pulled away to take him 20-13 in front and just one shot away from reaching the Semi Finals. Walker managed to ensure the game didn’t finish there and pushed his opponent to play four more ends. However, he was unable to stop Wilson from securing the final shot and lost 21-16.
Over on A Green the entire Women’s squad came out in force, with the England’s triples team playing their Semi Final on Rink 4 and the Pairs playing their Quarter Final on Rink 6. Jamie-Lea Winch, Natalie Chestney and Sian Honnor got off to a tremendous start against the Cook Islands who had brought along some very noisy supporters. After eight ends the England trio found themselves 8-2 up and they extended their lead to 14-4 after 10 ends. Things started to get a little closer at 13 ends when their opponents pulled back to 14-10 but the team upped their game to take the lead to 22-10. The final score was 23-11, which saw them secure their place in the Gold Medal Match at 4:30pm.
On the next door rink, Sophie Tolchard and Amy Pharaoh had a very tight game against India – with two of the players having won the Gold in the Women’s Fours earlier in the week. A third of the way through the match the England Pair were 6-4 down but after some excellent bowling they managed to push infront and found themselves 13-8 up after 12 ends. With two ends left to play they picked up an impressive three shots to take them 17-12. India picked up a two on the penultimate end to leave them just three shots down going into the last end. But Tolchard and Pharaoh had done enough to secure the match and won 18-14.
They played their Semi Final next against New Zealand, which saw them get off to a very strong start highlighting their determination to get to the Gold Medal match on Friday morning. They were 5-1 up after three ends and extended their lead to 12-4 up after 11 ends. At 14 ends they were 17-6 up and continued to dominate the match, securing their place in the final after finishing 19-12.
At noon the medal matches in the Para Mixed Pairs B2/B3 took to A green. The Gold Medal match was fought between Scotland and Wales, which proved to be an extremely tight game and was 4-all after six ends. The Scots started to pull away after eight ends and ended up winning 16-9. The result meant Scotland won Gold in all three of the Para Lawn Bowls competitions in the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
At the other end of the green England played Australia in what proved to be another very close medal match. Alison Yearling, directed by Susan Wherry and Chris Turnbull, directed by Mark Wherry found themselves just one shot behind at seven ends, down 5-6. They picked up two in the next end to take them in the lead. With just two ends to go the game continued to be extremely tight with England leading 11-10. But Turnbull played three excellent bowls in the penultimate end to pick up three shots, which meant they went into the final end leading 14-10. They lost a single shot on the last end to finish 14-11 to ensure their place on the podium and the Bronze medal.
The Men’s Fours, consisting of Louis Ridout, Nick Brett, Jamie Chestney and Sam Tolchard, also took to the greens at midday in their Quarter Final match against Malaysia. After six ends they were 3-7 down but picked up a three and a four to take themselves into the lead, making it 11-7 after eight ends. Going into the last end they were 16-9 up and finished 16-10.
In the Semi Final game at 4:30pm, when Jamie’s wife Natalie was playing in the Gold Medal match of the Women’s Triples, they had another tight match against India. The England men found themselves 6-2 up after five ends but India continued to chip away at the score and brought it to 7-8 after 10 ends. The next few ends were crucial but the team, skipped by Tolchard managed to go into the final end two shots up. It looked like their place in the Gold Medal match was secure but the final bowl of the game saw India’s skip trail the jack towards a group of their bowls. England conceded two shots and called the umpire to measure the third, who to the dismay of the England team and home crowd, turned out another of India’s bowl which meant the trio lost 13-12. They will play in the Bronze Medal Match at midday tomorrow, when they will face Wales.
Winch, Chestney and Honnor, over on A green, picked up a three on the first end and a single shot on the second end of their Gold Medal match of the Women’s Triples. The game was not clear cut however, with the Malaysian trio playing some excellent bowls to take them to 5-all after six ends. England saw themselves fall behind briefly, but pulled it back to 8-all at 11 ends. Again, Malaysia stepped in front but Honnor played an incredible bowl to go from one down to four up, putting England back in front at 13 ends, 12-9. The trio continued to show why they deserved to win the Gold Medal, playing some excellent bowls to win the next four ends and win 17-9. The hundreds of spectators roared and jumped to their feet as Winch, Chestney and Honnor hugged and shed a few tears in the middle of the green. Half an hour later they were cheered onto the podium to collect their Gold Medals.
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The Commonwealth Games is organised by Birmingham 2022, further information about the event can be found here. The Bowls England Team are currently busy ensuring that we maximise this golden opportunity for our sport. Please be aware that, during this period, we are operating a reduced phone and email service, and responses to queries maybe delayed.