Guernsey takes two big steps towards gold medal

FIVE wins from five, including a momentous victory over England at Beau Sejour yesterday morning, has put Matt Le Ber’s mixed fours team in prime position for the gold medal and title of European champions.

Handy situation: Todd Priaulx, Lucy Beere and Rose Ogier ‘low-five’ as they enjoy domination over England in yesterday’s morning session on day three of the European championships. Guernsey followed up the win over England with a big win over rivals Jersey. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 25875520)
Handy situation: Todd Priaulx, Lucy Beere and Rose Ogier ‘low-five’ as they enjoy domination over England in yesterday’s morning session on day three of the European championships. Guernsey followed up the win over England with a big win over rivals Jersey. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 25875520)

Prior to taking on the Welsh late in the day the quartet of Todd Priaulx, Rose Ogier, Lucy Beere and Le Ber had upset the English apple cart and then, to put an even bigger smile on their faces, knocked a large hole in Jersey’s prospects by defeating the Caesareans 9-6, 14-2.

The first big test of a testing day for the Sarnians came in the form of the English, comprising 2014 English men’s singles title winner Andrew Walters, senior international and 2018 England indoor singles winner Devon Cooper, Commonwealth medallist Katherine Rednall and experienced international Tristan Morton.

As the minutes ticked away to the 9.30 start a modicum of relief came with the sight of a few glimpses of blue sky, tucked among the fast moving dark grey clouds moving over the green and the Beau Sejour Centre heading towards Jersey.

While others wrapped up against the lingering damp Guernsey lead Todd Priaulx braved a pair of shorts and Guernsey polo shirt, a fashion matched by the England skip Tristan Morton, one of the two male left-handers in the side.

From the off Priaulx’s distinctive sky blue bowls gave Guernsey a three-shot advantage before the skips got their first slice of action, and by the opening end’s conclusion of the two of them remained in position to give Guernsey an encouraging start.

Guernsey again staggered their men and ladies, while England opted to put their two young women ahead of the lefties and Rednall, operating with her own sky blues, threatened to take the second end spoils until Le Ber took the jack into the ditch and then drew to the edge of the drop to secure another single to add to the total.

The English wouldn’t be denied for long.

On the third they capitalised on a good start to pick up a double and a weak, watery sun was poking its way through during a surprisingly ordinary fourth end where Priaulx’s scoring bowl 2ft from the jack held shot throughout and was added to by another two Guernsey scoring bowls.

A 6-2 lead with four ends down was nothing to be sniffed at, nor the clearing skies after the miserable weather of Sunday and Monday.

Le Ber’s superb penultimate delivery in the next forced Morton into desperate measures, but the English skip’s firing shot worked and took out Le Ber’s bowl.

Guernsey still held one although and Morton’s repeat effort failed.

Guernsey dropped a double on the next to go into the last end of the set 7-4 up, still a commanding position but not a done deal by any measure.

That final end concluded with the umpire called to measure what England hoped would be a set-drawing three, but to Guernsey’s relief it was only two and they were home 7-6.

The umpire was back out with his tape at the start of the second set and, again, it was good news for the home team, confirming a three when two had initially been put up on the board.

A double on the next added to Guernsey’s joy and England’s desperation, which as he shouted his instructions Morton did well to hide.

A draw would have been the least he had hoped for from a big ‘moving day’ in the overall fours medal chase, but his key intervention in the next yielded a three for his team. They were back, or were they?

England shortened the jack considerably for the fourth end but Ogier put her team in early control as she made contact with the jack for shot.

Morton returned with his heavy artillery to try and salvage the situation, but twice missed his intended target and Guernsey had another important point on the board: 6-3.

Priaulx heaped more pressure on the English with a very close bowl early in the fifth end and Guernsey were holding four as Morton arrived with two bowls to save the situation.

He took out one with his first bowl but clattered into short bowls of his teammates with his last bowl and after a measure Guernsey had another four on the board.

They were all but home and dry and while England picked up a pair of singles Guernsey had triumphed magnificently 10-5.

Four more match points set Guernsey up for their second big test of the day, against Greg Davis’s Jersey quartet.

On an adjacent rink in the morning Jersey had been locked in their own intriguing battle against Wales, which saw the two sides enter the last end of the opening set level at 6-6.

Welsh skip Daniel Davies fired in an attempt to save the desperate situation in that concluding end and although he made good contact one Jersey bowl remained stuck to the jack and the Caesareans had two important match points on the board.

The second set was also tight, but Wales sneaked home 8-3 to put a small dent in Jersey’s overall hopes.

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