The semi finals and final of the 2017 Handicap Pairs have been played with new Champions.
Julian Penny and Stuart Graham didn’t need the advantage of a very big start to move into the final with an excellent win over Jim Macklan and Noel Downie. Macklan and Downie were required to give their opponents a massive 16 shots start but it quickly became apparent that this start was not needed!
Penny and Graham won seven of the first nine ends to turn their 16 shot start into a commanding 33 – 6 lead. Both Penny and Graham were playing very well and growing in confidence. Macklan and Downie did stage a comeback winning 7 of the next 8 ends but unfortunately they only narrowed the score to 34 – 17. When Penny and Graham picked up another three shots on the 18th end Macklan and Downie conceded.
The other semi final started in a similar fashion but ended in a very tight struggle. Alan McLeod and John Monks had to give Ray Downey and David Boon 3 shots start but this became an eleven shot deficit when Downey and Boon picked up 8 shots on the first two ends.
The game became very tight from this point with both teams sharing the ends. Despite this Downey and Boon had a healthy 17 – 6 advantage after 12 ends. McLeod and Monks then went on a roll winning six ends in a row with Monks, in particular, playing some great bowls.
By the 18th end McLeod and Monks had put their nose in front, for the first time, at 18 – 17. Downey and Boon then played two critical ends. They picked up 5 shots to take a 22 – 18 lead into the last end. Just as the game looked over, McLeod played a brilliant bowl to give his side the shots they needed with four bowls to be played. Boon held his nerve and was able to cut this back to one shot and gave his side a 22 – 19 win – the 3 shot margin being the same as the handicap difference between the two sides!
It was Downey and Boon’s turn to give a start in the final with Penny and Graham having a 9 shot start! After an even start Penny and Graham gradually built on their margin and at 22 – 8 after 13 ends it seemed they didn’t need their start! In this section of the game Graham was outstanding playing several brilliant bowls.
The game then took the first of two incredible twists. Downey and Boon staged a great fight back winning the next seven ends to charge to what seemed a matching winning 27 – 22 lead with just an end to go.
However, it was Penny and Graham who saved the best to last. In a remarkable finish they grabbed the six shots they needed to win the game 28 – 27 and take out the Championship! It was a deserved win as they had played well throughout the event!