Friday 21st August 2015 saw the start of the new SMPT season as Bromsgrove IBC played host to the inaugural Bond Bowls World Cup. Eight countries from the Henselite Order of Merit, plus a Rest of the World team, were divided into three groups of three. Each team was represented by its top four players, with each of them playing singles.
In Group A, top seeds & favourites Ireland were joined by Wales and the Isle of Man. In game one Ireland faced Wales, who, although unseeded, had a very strong team and would give any side a run for its money and this proved to be the case. The first five ends saw Ireland get off to great start and they led 20-10 at this stage. By the 8th end however, Wales had reduced that deficit to just 3. The scores stayed nip and tuck until the finish, when Ireland powered over the line winning three of the four games. Wales picked up half a point in the remaining game thanks to their captain Sam Harvey who salvaged a draw on the last end against World No. 1 Mark Beattie. Ireland also took the two bonus points for their superior shot difference across all four mats.
Final score: Ireland 5.5 : 0.5 Wales (45-36)
Mark Beattie 10 : 10 Sam Harvey
Andrew Morrison 10 : 9 Stephen Williams
Jal Richardson 12 : 9 Chris Davies
Joe Beattie 13 : 8 Peter Rees
In game two Wales were looking to put the disappointment of their first loss behind them as they faced fellow unseeded team, the Isle of Man. With two fairly inexperienced players in their side, the Isle of Man would need to rely heavily on Stephen Gale & Michael Collister to pull the team through. After five ends there were no signs of nerves as the Isle of Man led by 5 shots and were up in three matches, with only Jayne Smith losing by 2 shots to 4 times World Champion Stephen Williams. In another tight game, the Isle of Man retained their 5 shot advantage throughout the rest of the match to dump Wales out of the competition with a surprise yet well-deserved victory over a team who were highly fancied to make it through to the semi-finals.
Final score: Isle of Man 4.5 : 1.5 Wales (43-38)
Stephen Gale 14 : 9 Sam Harvey
Jayne Smith 6 : 12 Stephen Williams
Michael Collister 12 : 6 Chris Davies
Steven Durcan 11 : 11 Peter Rees
The final game of Group A saw Ireland taking on the Isle of Man with both teams looking to gain valuable points to secure their passage through to the semi-finals. Ireland made their usual strong start and led by 8 shots after four ends. This became 20 shots after eight as it seemed Ireland were sure to secure the top spot in Group A and with it a semi-final berth. Stephen Gale was having a great tussle against Mark Beattie and would need to secure a win if his team were to have any chance of making it through to the semi-finals. It wasn’t to be though as Ireland ran out comfortable winners by six points to nil. The Isle of Man would now have to wait to see if they had enough points to get through to the knockout stages as best runner-up.
Final score: Isle of Man 0 : 6 Ireland (25-51)
Stephen Gale 9 : 11 Mark Beattie
Jayne Smith 5 : 17 Andrew Morrison
Michael Collister 5 : 13 Jal Richardson
Steven Durcan 6 : 10 Joe Beattie
Group B contained second seeds England, as well as Norway and the Netherlands. The England side, captained by 2013 European Masters Champion Chris Mann, looked certain to qualify from this group, but Norway and Holland were sure to make it tough. In the first game England took on the Netherlands and were out of the blocks very quickly. After just six ends England led 33-9 and were up in all four matches. This dominance continued as England ran out comfortable winners by six points to nil and 66 shots to 20, including a stunning 20 shots to 2 victory for James Trott over Jan Reinders.
Final score: England 6 : 0 Netherlands (66-20)
Chris Mann 18 : 10 Frans Roberts
Dom Reed 16 : 3 Saskia Schaft
Jack Pye 12 : 5 Esther De Groot
James Trott 20 : 2 Jan Reinders
Game two saw the up and coming Norwegian’s taking on the Netherlands. The match started brightly for both teams as Norway narrowly led by 11 shots to 9 after three ends. Norway then raised their games and turned the screw and after seven ends led 24-12. Norway were able to hold off the Netherlands and eventually won three of the four matches, with only Esther De Groot winning for the Netherlands, as she beat Rune Kløvtveit by 13 shots to 7.
Final score: Netherlands 1 : 5 Norway (35-46)
Frans Roberts 6 : 12 Lars-Rune Lauritzen
Saskia Schaft 7 : 14 Ann-Katrin Kristiansen
Esther De Groot 13 : 7 Rune Kløvtveit
Jan Reinders 9 : 13 Esben Lund
Game three saw England taking on Norway with one of these teams guaranteed a spot in the semi-finals and the other team having a great chance of progressing as best runner-up. England made the better start and led 15 shots to 7 after four ends and then increased this to 33 shots to 11 after six ends with England scoring heavily. Norway was trying to fight back but only Lars-Rune Lauritzen was able to keep things fairly close against England captain Chris Mann. It proved to be of no avail as England ran out easy victors with a monstrous 86 shot to 24 victory, including Jack Pye’s impressive 26-1 demolition of Rune Kløvtveit. This meant England topped Group B with a maximum twelve points, whilst Norway temporarily occupied the best runner-up spot but they would have to wait for the final outcome of Group C.
Final score: England 6 : 0 Norway (86-24)
Chris Mann 17 : 11 Lars-Rune Lauritzen
Dom Reed 22 : 3 Ann-Katrin Kristiansen
Jack Pye 26 : 1 Rune Kløvtveit
James Trott 21 : 9 Esben Lund
Group C contained third seeds Belgium and also fourth seeds Sweden. The Rest of the World team made up the group. This group looked the trickiest and would prove to be so. The first game saw Belgium take on the Rest of the World team that included Lawrence Moffat of Scotland and Italian Antonio Rinaldi. Belgium made a great start and led 25-11 after five ends. This increased to a lead of 38-14 after eight ends. The Rest of the World simply couldn’t get into the match and with father and son duo Jonathan and Dimitri Payne in ominous form, leading from the front, the Belgians ran out comfortable winners by six points to nil and 54 shots to 21.
Final score: Belgium 6 : 0 R.O.W (54-21)
Jonathan Payne 15 : 4 Antonio Rinaldi
Dimitri Payne 14 : 4 Lawrence Moffat
Sibe Laureys 14 : 6 Bent Nielsen
Louis Helsen 11 : 7 Andreas Hahn
In game two Sweden entered the fray and were playing the Rest of the World. With Belgium gaining maximum points from their first game the pressure was now squarely on Sweden to try and match their score. The match started evenly enough and after four ends Sweden held a narrow 4 shot lead. The match was still tight and after seven ends Sweden still held a 3 shot advantage, 27 to 24. Sweden were finding it difficult to pull away from a determined Rest of the World team and as the match drew to a close Sweden were up in 2 games and the Rest of the World led the other 2. After the completion of the 12 ends the honours were shared after Lawrence Moffat gained a narrow victory over Dick Almen. Sweden however gained the valuable two bonus points thanks largely to Jorgen Karlsson’s 15-3 victory over Bent Nielsen.
Final score: R.O.W 2 : 4 Sweden (35-48)
Antonio Rinaldi 8 : 14 Joel Hager
Lawrence Moffat 12 : 11 Dick Almen
Bent Nielsen 3 : 15 Jorgen Karlsson
Andreas Hahn 12 : 8 Tommy Dahlgren
The final game in Group C saw the third & fourth seeds face off for top spot in the group and the third semi-final place. With Belgium guaranteed at the very least the best runners-up spot if they lost the pressure was off them slightly, but they would want to avoid favourites Ireland if they could. Sweden would need at least one point to have a chance of going through if they lost so it was all to play for. It was a cagey start with both teams looking to take the initiative. After four ends Sweden held a slender 10-9 lead. This theme continued and with three quarters of the match played their lead had increased to 4 shots. This was however as good as it got for the Swede’s as Belgium moved through the gears and turned the match on its head taking three of the four matches and the two bonus points by virtue of their 46-40 shots win.
Final score: Belgium 5 : 1 Sweden (46-40)
Jonathan Payne 11 : 9 Joel Hager
Dimitri Payne 8 : 13 Dick Almen
Sibe Laureys 10 : 5 Jorgen Karlsson
Louis Helsen 17 : 13 Tommy Dahlgren
The group standings were now settled:
1st Ireland 11.5pts +35
2nd Isle of Man 4.5pts -21
3rd Wales 2pts -14
1st England 12pts +108
2nd Norway 5pts -51
3rd Netherlands 1pt -57
1st Belgium 11pts +39
2nd Sweden 5pts +7
3rd R.O.W 2pts -46
This meant that Sweden would join the group winners in the semi-finals due to their superior shot difference over Norway. The Isle of Man captain Stephen Gale was left to rue his chance to beat Mark Beattie and gain the valuable point needed to make the semi-finals.
So, the semi-final line up was now complete and the four seeds had made it safely through. Top seeds Ireland would face fourth seeds Sweden whilst second & third seeds England & Belgium would battle it out in the second semi-final.
Semi-final 1, Ireland v Sweden
Sweden had it all to do against strong favourites Ireland and after their indifferent form in the group stages they would need to raise their games considerably. The first two ends were a close affair with Ireland shading it 7 shots to 6. This soon became 12-10 after four ends, with both teams up in two matches. A sudden run of shots for Ireland took them into a 21-12 lead and things were starting to look bleak for the Swede’s. Going into the ninth end Sweden had it all to do to gain the shots back. This end however suddenly produced a huge boost for them as shots were gained across all four mats and suddenly they were back in the contest and now only trailed by 3 shots 29-26. On the penultimate end Ireland had one foot in the final as Joe Beattie beat Tommy Dahlgren 12-5 and Jal Richardson saw off the challenge of Jorgen Karlsson by 11-7 to lead two points to nil. As the last end was coming to a close Sweden now lead on shots 35-33 and were up in the final two matches. Mark Beattie & Andrew Morrison now had the pressure firmly on them and had to chase shots to overhaul their opponents. In a hugely tense finish, Joel Hager and Dick Almen stood firm and with Mark’s last bowl missing the target Sweden had completed the comeback and gained a great victory over the pre-tournament favourites.
Final score: Ireland 2 : 4 Sweden (33-38)
Mark Beattie 5 : 15 Joel Hager
Andrew Morrison 5 : 11 Dick Almen
Jal Richardson 11 : 7 Jorgen Karlsson
Joe Beattie 12 : 5 Tommy Dahlgren
Semi-final 2, England v Belgium
So who would face Sweden in the final? England had two convincing wins in the group and would need to continue that form to beat a strong Belgian team buoyed by their victory over the finalists in their last match.
England flew out of the blocks and lead 12-6 after three ends. The Belgians were finding the going tough and England’s dominance continued and their lead extended to 13 shots after five ends. Belgium were in need of a couple of good ends and things could change around as it did in the first semi-final. There was however no repeat of that match as England’s lead increased further to 15 shots with ends running out for their opponents. Soon after England wrapped up a convincing win with captain Chris’s Mann taking the decisive 3rd victory to see the three lions through to the final. James Trott finished the job by defeating Louis Helsen in the final match.
Final score: England 6 : 0 Belgium (54-26)
Chris Mann 14 : 5 Jonathan Payne
Dom Reed 14 : 7 Dimitri Payne
Jack Pye 16 : 6 Sibe Laureys
James Trott 10 : 8 Louis Helsen
Bond Bowls World Cup Final
Sweden v England
England had cruised to the final with all four players contributing some fantastic bowling and they hadn’t lost a match between them. Sweden had made a slow start but with a stunning victory over favourites Ireland in the semi-final their confidence was high.
So the scene was set and with close to a 150 spectators in attendance an eagerly anticipated final was ready to go! The teams were introduced into the arena with music blaring and the crowd cheering and clapping. Following team photos and the coin toss we were off and running. England made the better start and Captain Chris Mann was producing some impressive shots to lead Joel Hager 6-0 after four ends. The other games were close but England had the slight advantage. At the halfway point England were creeping ahead by a few shots with only Jorgen Karlsson leading for Sweden against Jack Pye.
Heading into the latter stages, with Chris Mann well ahead of Joel Hager, England’s lead looked secure. Suddenly though, as in the semi-final, Sweden produced a stunning end and with Dick Almen & Tommy Dahlgren claiming 3 shots each and Joel Hager a full house 4 against Chris Mann which put them right back in contention. As the match came to a nail-biting climax, Chris Mann put the first point on the board for England surviving a great comeback from Joel Hager winning 10-9. Shortly afterwards Dick Almen kept Sweden’s hopes alive by gaining a vital 2 shots on the last end to force a draw with Dom Reed and make the score 1.5pts to 0.5pt in favour of England. However, Sweden were now up in the last two matches and they had one hand on the trophy. The tension was unbearable as Tommy Dahlgren waited for Jorgen’s match against Jack to finish. With Jorgen completing a 10-8 victory over Jack the match was now tied on 1.5pts each, but with Sweden leading by 3 shots overall the pressure was now on England’s James Trott who was 11-9 down to try and gain the 3 shots back and win the trophy. After two bowls each James was lying 2 but came up short with his third as Tommy had drawn heavy with his bowl. Tommy decided to try and disturb the head with his last bowl but missed which meant James Trott now had the chance to win it for England by drawing in a third counting wood. A hush fell over the arena as James checked the area to draw to, then got ready to deliver his bowl. Although a fairly straightforward draw the shot was full of pressure and I’m not sure many would’ve wanted to be in his shoes. He sent it down but in trying not to fall short he had played a little too much weight and it finished just past the head and so he counted 2 shots to tie the match but Sweden were World Cup Champions by 1 shot!! What an incredible finish to a sensational game and an excellent tournament.
Final score: Sweden 4 : 2 England (39-38)
Joel Hager 9 : 10 Chris Mann
Dick Almen 9 : 9 Dom Reed
Jorgen Karlsson 10 : 8 Jack Pye
Tommy Dahlgren 11 : 11 James Trott