World ranked number 12 Mike Stepney and English qualifier Sam Tolchard, set the International Arena on fire, dishing up a phenomenal 1st Round tussle as the @Imagine Cruising World Indoor Bowls Singles Championship continued at Potters today.
Mike made the better start, chalking up a 5-2, four end lead in the opening set.
But, as the saying goes ‘it’s not how you start it’s how you finish’ - with Sam reeling off seven shots over four of the remaining five ends to take first blood 9-7.
The second set was a keenly fought cat and mouse affair. Seven singles and two doubles scored with Mike holding off a late challenge from Sam to edge the set 6-5 and force the match to a sudden death, best of three end tie-break.
Once again, both players fought tooth and nail, playing every shot in the book and keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.
Sam threw down the gauntlet when he counted a monumental first end, which had seen the jack being sprung out to the very periphery of the rink, and called ‘in’ my just a few millimetres by the umpire. The shot changed several times but in the end the verdict went to Torquay United’s Sam Tolchard.
The jack was once again displaced to the near the boundary of the rink on the second end – with Mike drawing shot with his final delivery. Sam though had the last bowl and will look back with dismay on the result.
Playing to remove Mike’s counting shot, Sam also collided with the jack, and despite removing Mike’s bowl, could only watch in horror as the jack rolled towards one of Mike’s back bowls.
So, after nearly two hours of top notch play, the match result stood finely poised on the very last end with Mike eventually counting the vital shot to progress to the 2nd Round.
“The match could definitely have gone any way’ said Mike later. “I felt over the piece it was a fantastic game. You had to fight hard for any count that you got. In my opinion Sam was marginally the better player.
“I feel ‘wrung out’, especially after the result Sam got on the second end of the tie break. He got the target but was unfortunate to bump the jack through and leave me holding shot”.
Match Result -
Mike Stepney (Scot/12) bt Sam Tolchard (Eng/Q) 7-9, 6-5, 2-1.