Merrien cannot wait to get away from home comforts

FRESH from three wins out of four Channel Islands finals, Alison Merrien heads back to Potters Resort this week ready for another shot at the World Indoor Bowls Championship.

‘It was nice to have competition, evaluate where I am with my game and I’m pleased with how it went. I’m quite chuffed with three wins out of four,’ said Merrien of her performance on her home rink over the weekend.

She departs for England tomorrow looking forward to starting her mixed pairs campaign on Friday and her singles on Saturday.

‘It has been a couple of years since I last went, it will be nice to see other people and be on another rink.

‘I’ve missed the challenge of adapting to different surroundings.’

Merrien certainly made the most of home advantage last weekend, with just one remarkable purple patch from Jersey’s women’s pair denying her a clean sweep of titles.

That came on Saturday afternoon, by which time she already had one title in the bag having won the triples 20-14 alongside Shirley Petit and Catherine Snell.

Merrien and Petit then gradually built an 18-7 lead over Megan Kivlin and Chloe Greechan in the first 13 ends of the pairs encounter before the young Jersey players came up with an astonishing run of 16 unanswered shots in the next five ends before seeing out the match 25-21.

‘It was a bit of a two-sided game because we started off really well, took a good lead, then they stepped up a gear,’ Merrien said.

‘The things I tried just did not come off and when you are trying to hit back, sometimes it goes for you and others you end up giving away more shots – it’s the way the game goes.’

Merrien gained some revenge over former Scotland under-18 player Kivlin the next morning, though, starting as she meant to go on in the women’s singles final with a full house on the first end.

She dominated throughout to clinch a 21-5 victory and her 15th CI women’s singles title.

‘I wanted to go out and give it my all and I played a really solid game,’ said Merrien, who added that her start probably ‘shocked Kivlin a bit’.

‘I got in straight away and it also gets me the jack so I could put it the length I wanted.’

Merrien then completed her stellar weekend by teaming up with Petit, Snell and Rose Ogier to win the women’s fours 21-9.

‘It was a good team effort and a good game actually because there were great shots played by both teams.

‘We managed to get away from them about two-thirds through the game and a few good shots went our way.’

Steve Le Noury made it a Guernsey double for singles titles on Sunday with victory over Alex Stewart.

Steve Le Noury won the CI men’s singles title with a fine win over Alex Stewart. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 30372457)

However, while Merrien got off to a flier in her final, there was nothing to separate Le Noury and Stewart after nine ends, but then the home player upped the ante and won eight ends on the trot to establish an 18-7 leads.

He wrapped up the title with a three on the 19th end.

The hosts completed a final session clean-sweep when Ian Merrien’s four, which also included Dave Jeffery, Alan Merrien and Josh Bonsall, got the better of their Jersey counterparts 24-15.

That made it a successful weekend for Jeffery, who had won the men’s pairs on Saturday alongside Garry McFarlane.

That duo have achieved a great deal in their golfing careers – Jeffery as the inaugural Ravenscroft Matchplay champion and McFarlane as two-time winner of the Island Championship.

They have also, at different times, held course records at La Grande Mare (Jeffery) and L’Ancresse (McFarlane) and it clearly meant a good deal to them to triumph in a different sporting arena.

After clubbing together to win the CI men’s pairs title to book a place at the British Isles Championships, Jeffery said it was very pleasing.

‘That’s the first time we have got through this far and after the first couple of ends we probably wished we had stayed on the golf course,’ said Jeffery later.

‘But we stuck in there and pulled off a nice little run when we had the jack. I think we won six ends in a row playing short jack and that is where we built our lead.

‘After that it was a case that if we were going to drop an end, just drop ones, which we managed to do.

‘We managed it well.’

There was a golf link to Guernsey’s victory in the veterans men’s fours, too, with former Ryder Cup player Norman Wood part of the triumphant quartet alongside Nigel Collins, Dave King and Roy Queripel.

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