Bowls: Midlothian pair into the final


Midlothian bowling stars Ronnie Duncan and Colin Walker are one game away from being crowned World Pairs champions after ousting hot favourites Paul Foster and Alex Marshall at the semi-final stage on Monday at the Just Retirement Professional World Indoor Bowls

Championships at Potters Leisure Resort in Norfolk.

It has been a sensational run by the unseeded duo, who had to win four matches in a Falkirk qualifying event just to reach ‘the home of indoor bowls’, and they can top that scalp of the legendary bowling pair if they can defeat fellow Scots Darren Burnett and Stewart Anderson in Monday’s eagerly-awaited final.

World champions, defending champions and Commonwealth Games gold medallists have all been dispatched by the Midlothian men in what has been a remarkable few days and they now they stand on the verge of becoming the first unseeded World Indoor Pairs champions since Ian McClure and Jeremy Henry claimed the title for Northern Ireland in 2004.

The younger half of the duo Duncan, 32, admitted the last few days had gone far better then he could ever have expected.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” he revealed. “To beat former two world champions and the current champions, plus Tattie and Paul, who are also Commonwealth Games champions, it couldn’t have gone better so far.

“To get to the final has exceeded our expectations as you’re playing against so many top quality pairs and to win the final would be pretty amazing. To be Scottish, British and World champions would be incredible.”

Their route to the final started last Friday night when they overcame David Gourlay and Mervyn King – winners of 11 World Indoor titles between them – in a straight sets performance that suggested they were not to be taken lightly in the competition.

Reigning champions Robert Paxton and Simon Skelton were then seen off via way of a tie-break, before setting up another meeting with Foster and Marshall, who had beaten them at the quarter-final stage last year.

“We were fairly confident as we only 2-1 on a tie-break to them last year, so we knew we could get really close to them and luckily we did it this time around on a tie-break,” said Duncan.

They had to do it the hard way against the three-time World Indoor Pairs champions, who also have a combined 10 World Indoor Singles as well as numerous Commonwealth Games titles, to their names, as they lost the first set 3-9 to put them firmly on the back foot.

But they upped their game to run away with the second set 9-4, which set up a nail-biting best-of-three-ends tie-break, which Duncan gives a blow-by-blow account of.

“We won the toss and gave the jack away – Alex drew within two feet to win the first end for them,” he explained.

“The second end was quite tactical and I put in a back toucher with my first bowl of the second end and then it was all about covering the re- spots, which helped us take that end.

“Both of us then played a really good third end, with two bowls very close to the jack and Alex failed to kill the head and we went through.

“They were very gracious afterwards and we had a few drinks with them at the bar.”

Now all that stands between them and a first World Indoor crown are Anderson and Burnett, who ruled the world themselves in the Singles in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

Meanwhile, both Walker and Duncan play their first matches in the Singles competition on Thursday when the former, ironically, plays Burnett and the latter faces Greg Harlow.

And Duncan concluded: “I have had a lot of carpet time, but it will be a hard game against yet another former world champion.

“Singles is a different game and I am quite happy with how I am playing, but it’s all about on the day. I will be treating it as a new competition and will be going out to play as well as I can and hopefully get through.”