There was no fairytale ending for Midlothian duo Ronnie Duncan and Colin Walker as their bid for World Pairs glory fell at the final hurdle.
They lost to Scots Darren Burnett and Stewart Anderson in Monday’s final of the Just Retirement Professional World Indoor Bowls Championships at Potters, in Norfolk.
It had been a memorable run to the final for Duncan and Walker, who had knocked out David Gourlay and Mervyn King, both veterans of Potters, defending champions Robert Paxton and Simon Skelton, before taking the scalps of legendary duo Alex Marshall and Paul Foster.
But the title eluded them in a hard-fought final as Burnett and Anderson defied the underdogs 10-7 10-6 to a clinch a first-ever crown together.
“It is disappointing,” said Duncan. “They played very well and were deserving champions, no doubt about that. We’ve had a good run and certainly can’t complain, but it was probably one step too far for us.
“I thought it was much closer than the scoreline reflected, maybe one or two shots in it. A couple of runners either way and the scoreline and result could have been very different.”
With a bit more luck there could well have been a different outcome, as Duncan and Walker were leading 6-5 after seven ends of the first set and more than holding their own in the showpiece shown live on BBC2. But Burnett and Anderson are not former World Indoor Singles champions for nothing and they turned up the heat in the final few ends to take a one-set lead and put themselves in the driving seat.
“It was a tentative first set and I don’t think anyone wanted to take too many chances,” Duncan went on. “There were lot of draw shots, not many runner-type bowls played, due to the way the heads were lying. Towards the end of the set, though, Stewart played quite a few good ends and put us under a wee bit of pressure.”
Duncan and Walker picked up a double on the first end of the second set as they set about levelling the match, but the game got away from them after that and they trailed 8-3 going into end eight.
“I didn’t think we played too badly in the second set – Darren played a few massive runners, which proved crucial,” admitted Duncan.
One of Burnett’s ‘massive runners’ knocked the stuffing out of the underdogs on that eighth end. Walker bowled in with his final delivery to leave him and Duncan holding a full house, which would have powered them right back into the match, but the burly Arbroath copper played controlled weight, caught a thin edge of the jack and nicked it towards two green bowls to claim a brace and virtually wrap up the match.
“We never thought that was even possible,” said Duncan of Burnett’s crucial match-clinching delivery. “He could probably only see an inch of the jack. We thought the chalker Colin had was a certainty to come through, but somehow Darren managed to find a thin edge of the jack and we ended up losing a two, which was probably game over for us.
“Looking like 8-7, we suddenly found ourselves 10-3 down and after that we were chasing the game.”
From there, there was no way back and despite picking up another four shots, it was not enough for Duncan and Walker and they had to be content with the tag of runners-up, which is not too bad an effort considering they had to come through a Falkirk qualifying event just to make it to Potters.