Sarnians are quick to make up for lost time

THREE wins from four was an impressive start for the Guernsey bowlers contesting the opening session of the weekend’s CI finals at the GIBA Stadium.

It was the first time in 24 months that the championships, which double as British Isles qualifiers, have been staged, but with the likes of Ali Merrien winning, little seemed to have changed in that Covid-enforced break.

It did not always look so good for the Sarnians.

An hour into the opening session, Jersey held sway in three of the four matches.

The fourth – the men’s under-25 singles – was level at 11 apiece with young Bradley Le Noury, 14, having just let slip a narrow advantage on the latest product of the Greechan talent line, Taylor.

Three rinks away Ben’s father Steve and uncle Mike were engulfed in a testing triples clash with the strong Jersey trio of Ross Davis, Malcolm de Sousa and Maurice Andrieux.

Few would have been surprised to see the Jersey triple 5-1 ahead after four ends, but they would have raised a collective eyebrow to see Alison Merrien’s women’s trio 3-6 down to Lynsey Greechan’s threesome with daughter Chloe her able lieutenant at two and Jersey singles champion Megan Kivlin at lead.

Arguably, the most intriguing clash of the opening session was the men’s pairs where Dave Jeffery and Garry McFarlane, noted more for their golfing exploits, were being tested to the hilt by Greg Davis and Jared Brown.

Seven ends in, the golfers were in the hunt at 8-9 down while a rink away suddenly Merrien made her move and a score of three bounced her team, which had Shirley Petit at two and Catherine Snell leading, 7-6 ahead.

Merrien’s head-to-head with Lynsey Greechan had its own fascination as they traded metaphorical blows, notably on the sixth end when the Jersey woman won the advantage, lost it to a nerveless final bowl from the Sarnian star, and promptly bettered it with the last to level the match at 7-7.

All the while the Jersey skip was casting her eyes a rink away as to the progress of her boy still engulfed in a tight battle for the U-25s title.

She will not have been pleased to see Le Noury jump 18-15 ahead and close to within three of the title and the end seemed very near for the Jersey youngster when Le Noury drew two close at the start of the next.

Having delivered his final bowl, Le Noury held three and had one hand on the trophy, but the Caesarean delicately picked up the jack with his final delivery and with a single had closed the gap. Not for long.

Le Noury took advantage of a sloppy next end from Greechan to draw two and lead 20-16, one from home.

Bradley Le Noury gave the hosts their first success of the weekend with victory in the men’s under-25 singles final. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 30372437)

Le Noury piled on the pressure with a close opening forehand on the next and with Greechan unable to better an even better final delivery from the Sarnian, Guernsey had their first success of the weekend.

Would they win another though?

There was still every chance that Merrien would steer her trio home, but the men’s pairs and triples were tight.

Jeffery and McFarlane jumped into a 17-12 lead and there was an amusing moment when Greg Davis animatedly raced down the rink shouting ‘yes’ to what he thought was a winning bowl.

By the end of the 15th, during which the local pair came in with four, Jeffery and McFarlane comfortably led 23-12.

Bit by bit, Davis and Brown inched back, as did Greechan’s triple ‘next door’ until a single on the 16th stopped the rot and gave Merrien a six-shot advantage with two ends left. They were as good as home.

Similarly, a winning single on the penultimate end saw Jeffery and McFarlane plenty to play with going into the last and it mattered not that they dropped a two.

Guernsey won the men's veterans fours on Saturday afternoon while Jersey women's pair Kivlin and Chloe Greechan staged a remarkable comeback to win that title 25-21 against Merrien and Petit.

On Sunday, Merrien added another CI women's singles title to her CV with a comfortable 21-5 win over Kivlin. Chloe Greechan took the under-25 crown by beating Nicole Le Noury 21-7.

Merrien then made it three titles out of four over the weekend with a 21-9 victory in the women's fours alongside Petit, Snell and Rose Ogier.

Steve Le Noury made it a Guernsey double in the singles as he won the men's final 21-10 against Alex Stewart and the Sarnian men's four made it a clean-sweep in the final session with a 24-15 success.

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