Bowls Trader World Cup preview

The World Cup returns for the first time in three years, with nine nations battling it out to become Champions!

Can Ireland win it for a fifth straight event or will England finally capture that elusive Gold medal. We had a cracker of a final last time out with the Irish pipping the Swede’s by just one shot. Can they get their hands on the trophy for the first time since 2015.

Let’s take a closer look at this year’s teams.

Belgium

Jonathan Payne will captain the team again this year. The current World Singles Champion is joined once again by returning players Simon Meirhaeghe & Sibe Laureys with Luc Schorpion making his debut in place of Mark Verzee. It was a disappointing campaign for the team last time out, finishing bottom of Group B, so they will be very determined to make amends and gain a spot in the semi-finals.

It’s Group C this time around with third seeds and 2019 Silver medallist’s Sweden and their Nordic cousins Norway. Sweden look strong but some good performances from the Belgians could easily see them top the group. It could very well be a semi-final spot for the first time since 2017 when they lost out on a spot in the final by one shot to Ireland. 

England (seeded 2) 

England returns this year, retaining half of the team from three years ago. Joining Captain James Trott is World No2 Ed Sawbridge, whilst making their debuts are World No7 Peter Roberts and Mitchell Young. England are chasing that elusive Gold medal and will feel they have a strong chance this year with four seasoned international players.

England head up Group B as second seeds, alongside old rivals Scotland and the Rest Of The World team. They will be strong favourites to progress as group winners but can never take anything for granted, and a single slip up could see them miss out on a semi-final spot altogether. If they do make it through, it’s likely to be a third semi-final match against Sweden which England lead 2-0.

Ireland (seeded 1)

Four time winners and top seeds Ireland will be hoping to make it five in a row as they head up Group A. Joining them are Wales and the Isle of Man. Three players return as defending Champions, Captain Mark Beattie who is looking for his third title, PJ Gallagher who is after his fourth Gold medal and Nathan Haire who makes his second appearance. They are joined by 2018 winning Captain, Glenn Harvey.

Nothing short of a final appearance will do for the strong favourites. Progression to the semi-final is minimum target where they will play the best placed runner up. Wales & the Isle of Man, I’m sure, will have something to say about that though. Will the men in green be celebrating come the end of the day? Only time will tell!

Isle of Man

It’s a familiar looking team for the Isle of Man as Colin Holland switches back into the line up in place of Steve Durcan and Christine Holland replaces the unavailable Bernie Durcan. Stephen Gale leads the side again, whilst Jayne Smith is the final player and is making her fifth appearance.

It’s another tough ask for them to make the semi-finals with matches against Ireland and Wales in Group A. They will hope they can pull off some surprises and accumulate enough points to gain the possible best runners up spot available. It’s all on the day, so who knows!

Norway

Norway sees the father and son combination of Gunnar and Ferdinand Frantzen return to this years line-up with debutants Kjell Bjerkseth and Siw Amundsen joining them. This will be a great test for the Norwegian team with matchups against the strong Swedish outfit and also the experienced Belgians in Group C.

Can Norway capitalise on their recent strong showing in the last two World Cups and finally make a Semi-final spot? If they can get off to a strong start against Belgium then a crucial tie against neighbours Sweden looks like it might decide the group.

Rest of the World

Just a single change in the team, as Emily Poulter representing the USA comes in for Roger Hammond. Frans Roberts, John Pajak and Bent Nielsen all return. A great 6-0 victory over Belgium last time out showed these players do have what it takes to mount a challenge for a semi-final spot.

Up first for this team in Group B is England and even a single point from this match could be crucial. Then it’s Scotland who they face for the third time in a row. Scotland got revenge last time out for the 2018 defeat, so it’s all to play for as both teams battle it out to try and qualify for the semi-finals. A shared result will not do either team any favours.

Scotland

Plenty of changes to this years team as seasoned international Lawrence Moffat returns to the team as Captain. Sandy McDonald is the only remaining player from last time out and there are debuts for Bob Naylor & Alan Masson who comes in for the unavailable Gary Stewart.

A great showing three years ago saw Scotland record victories over Belgium & the ROTW team for a third place finish in Group B. You would favour the match against the latter as the key fixture again this year with a large victory giving them the chance for their first semi-final berth. Can they make it happen?

Sweden (seeded 3)

The 2019 Silver medalists return with three of those players, namely Joel Hager who Captains the team once again, his son Jonas Hager and Jorgen Karlsson. Joining them is debutant Bjarne Andersson who replaces Benny Sjorgren.

Sweden featured in an epic final last time out in their third final appearance. They will hope to go one better this year but are with Norway and Belgium in Group C. A key matchup in this clash is between two of the all-time Short Mat greats as Joel Hager takes on Jonathan Payne. Can Sweden qualify from this intriguing group?

Wales

The two time semi-finalists retain one player from three years ago. Andrew Jones is joined by debutant and Captain John Jillings with Dafydd Howell switching places again with brother Cennydd. Completing the line-up and in his first appearance is Aled Edwards, who’s consistent season sees him deservedly make the team.

Wales face Ireland again in the group and will be keen to avenge that defeat last time out. A decent result and some points from the match against the Isle of Man could see them make the Semi-finals for the third straight event.

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