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Inspired Donaldson wins place at British champs

Sport | Published:

HONOURS were even in the Channel Islands indoor finals held at the Guernsey Bowls Stadium despite the fact that Alison Merrien got Guernsey off to a flying start with an emphatic win over Gaynor Thomas in the women's singles.

HONOURS were even in the Channel Islands indoor finals held at the Guernsey Bowls Stadium despite the fact that Alison Merrien got Guernsey off to a flying start with an emphatic win over Gaynor Thomas in the women's singles. The match was done and dusted in just 12 ends and had the Jersey champion groaning: 'I knew before I started that I wouldn't beat Alison on her home carpet.'

Guernsey's women had the better of the weekend, likewise the Jersey men with the exception of their singles champion, Jamie MacDonald, who found Nick Donaldson too tough a nut to crack.

MacDonald had been in impressive form throughout the bulk of 10 hours of bowls on day one, but he found Donaldson in inspired form from the very first bowl of the game.

After five ends it was 8-1 to the Guernseyman and he did not look back.

With Donaldson leading 19-4 and holding game, MacDonald ditched the jack to hold three at a distance, but the Sarnian wasn't to be denied and calmly drew to the edge of the ditch to claim the shot.

MacDonald secured a single on the 13th end but Donaldson wrapped it up on the next for one of the best wins of his outstanding domestic career.

The CI champion was not about to disagree.

'Yeah, I played very well.

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'I don't normally like morning games but this one worked out fine.'

The triples' crowns were split between the islands.

Sadly, after their all-conquering run veterans Phil Schofield, Don Batiste and Terry Dowinton were hammered by MacDonald, John Lowery and Thomas Greechan.

The Jerseymen were outstanding, winning 31-3 as Schofield struggled to get anywhere near the jack and Batiste and Dowinton also failed to make any impression.

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Schofield was philosophical afterwards, saying: 'We've been the underdogs all the way through, but the nerves finally got to me today.'

The women's triples was a high-scoring encounter which Guernsey (Gwen de la Mare, Mavis Richards and Lianna Bichard) bossed from the beginning to win 27-20.

The home island collected two more titles courtesy of the women's fours and pairs.

In the team match, Anna Brehaut, Carol Ingrouille, Angela Bartie and skip Alison Merrien took on Jersey's Rachel MacDonald, Chris Grimes, Sue Noel and the seven-months-pregnant Lindsey Greechan.

This was another nip-and-tuck encounter, despite Guernsey opening up a 7-0 lead after only three ends.

Jersey fought back and narrowed Guernsey's advantage to a single shot by the 13th end.

After the 15th Jersey led 16-13 but they were level by the 20th end that was all important and made an enthralling talking point for the large crowd of spectators.

Jersey held several counting bowls and Guernsey number three Angela Bartie played two drives but missed the target.

Merrien followed with a pile-driver and made no mistake, leaving Guernsey shot with the only Guernsey bowl left on the rink.

Greechan debated with her teammates what shot to play, as the Guernsey bowl was worth a count of five, although Merrien still had a bowl to come and the counting bowls would have been over a yard away.

Eventually Greechan elected to draw the shot, but was uncharacteristically wide and short.

Equally uncharacteristically, Merrien missed drawing second shot when she collided with Greechan's final delivery, but Guernsey had the one that mattered to take the lead going into the last end.

That saw Brehaut draw shot a foot away and Ingrouille added a front toucher and another counter resting her own bowl before Sue Noel played with weight and fortuitously planted a short bowl on to the jack to leave Jersey with four at a distance.

Bartie drew third bowl before Noel added a third to Jersey, with her final delivery finishing eight inches from the jack. Bartie played with a little weight but missed the jack by a whisker and finished two feet through.

Greechan drew second bowl to leave Jersey with a count of four before Merrien, appearing to take it all in her stride, calmly drew a front toucher and with it took the shot.

The Caesarean skip drove at the head and ditched the jack, but still lay one down and Guernsey took the match by two at 18-16.

The pairs was also decided on the last end as Mavis Richards and Lianna Bichard took on Sue Dingle and Jean Jones in an epic encounter.

But it was 'rhubarb and custard' that won the day as Richards' yellow bowls and Bichard's pink ones combined to take the game 17-15.

The grandmother-and-granddaughter combination had played well throughout the game to stay in contention, with Bichard's conversion shots being particularly well played. At 15 all with 20 ends played, an enthralling last ensued. The first three bowls from both Richards and Dingle were tentative to say the least as the best finished a yard away from the jack.

However, Richards' final delivery finished a foot away from the jack and Guernsey held shot.

However, this wasn't close enough to stop Jones drawing the shot which finished just under a foot short of the jack after Bichard's second delivery had just failed to tidy things up.

Bichard attempted a weighted shot but hit a bunch of short bowls, before the bowl of the game saw her plant a custard coloured bowl on to Jersey's shot bowl and move it away from the jack to leave Guernsey with two.

Jones was left with one bowl to save the game and tried to draw the shot, but as nerves got the better of the experienced Jersey girl, her bowl whistled four yards passed the jack and glory was Guernsey's.

The men's fours saw Terry Boreham, Mick Merrien, Ian Merrien and Paul Merrien take on MacDonald, Jersey president Alan Shaw, Lowery and Thomas Greechan and, in a high-quality match, lose 17-20.

MacDonald won again in the under-25 singles, 21-14 against Garry Collins, and the women's equivalent also went the visitors' way, with Greechan defeating a slow-starting Bichard 21-19 after 21 ends.

Meanwhile Lianna's brothers Sean and Kris were entertaining the experienced Jersey duo of Cyril Renouf and Gus Hodgetts in the men's pairs and at 12-1 down the boys seemed to be in for a hammering.

To their credit, they dug in and clawed back to 11-17 down after 13 but their hearts were finally broken on the 16th when Hodgetts drew to the edge of the ditch to take a single when Guernsey were holding two after a good drive from Kris Bichard had ditched the jack.

This left the score at 20-13 to Jersey and they were ultimately to win 25-15.

GIBA president Paul Ingrouille was, however, full of praise for the boys.

'They certainly gave a good account of themselves and did not appear to suffer from big match nerves and I'm sure they will be a force to be reckoned with for many, many years to come.'

The men's British Isles finals take place in Llanelli in March and the women's equivalent in Newcastle in April.

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