On Monday 20 January 2020, England's Greg Harlow and Nicky Brett clinched the Open Pairs title at Potters after a tense and highly exciting tie break, winning an epic match against 2019 champions Paul Foster MBE and Alex Marshall MBE by 2 sets to 1 in the Just 2020 World Indoor Bowls Championships.
There was a capacity crowd glued to their seats for almost three hours, with never much to separate the pairs teams as it was nip and tuck all the way, until the last bowls in the best of three-end tie break.
Harlow and Brett scored a double and a treble on the 7th and 8th end and were happy to concede two shots on the last end of the opening set to take first blood.
The second set followed a similar path to the first with both pairs giving as good as they got with a procession of inch-perfect bowls being delivered by all players.
Three shots on the penultimate end left Harlow and Brett all square in the match at 6-6. The Scots duo grabbed a lifeline with a double to win the set 8-6 and moved towards a best of three end tie break.
Harlow and Brett bagged the first end in the shootout, then in the second end the Scottish skip Marshall played the perfect bowl to draw a cold toucher which gave he and his partner the second set and pushed the match to a thrilling last-end title decider.
In the third and final end Harlow and Brett – the English duo – always looked in control and took the title.
Harlow said: “It was one of those games where, if you dropped a bowl six inches away from the jack, you just knew it was going to be beaten. You don’t expect anything less from Paul and Alex – they are world class players and the best there are.
“In the tie break, if a shot or two had been missed by either side, then the score could have opened up, but skips Nicky and Alex were just too good and the head kept changing, which kept everyone on the edge of their seat.”
Brett said: “It was an outstanding game to be part of and we’ve played against Paul a lot over the years and it’s always the hardest bowls game in the world, as it should be for the final. Just when you think you’ve got a foothold, then Alex plays an absolute monster under match pressure.”
However, their next match will be a different story when the new Open Pairs champions Harlow and Brett line up – against each other. They clash in the mixed pairs final (Tuesday 1pm) with Greg teaming up with Alison Merrien MBE from Guernsey, whilst Nicky will partner Marion Purcell from Wales. All are former winners of the mixed pair titles with different partners.
The Just 2020 World Indoor Bowls Championships are organised by the World Bowls Tour and sponsored by Just.