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King is a wizard in Oz as he earns last eight berth

PUBLISHED: 07:45 16 February 2010 | UPDATED: 08:09 02 July 2010

David Rhys-Jones

The competitive side of bowls is hotting up at home and abroad, with national men's and women's championships getting underway in Northampton - and the Australian Open offering great entertainment in Shepparton Park in Victoria.

The competitive side of bowls is hotting up at home and abroad, with national men's and women's championships getting underway in Northampton - and the Australian Open offering great entertainment in Shepparton Park in Victoria.

Shepparton is where Norfolk's star player Mervyn King is performing as part of his preparations for the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in October - and he has been showing his undoubted skill in singles and pairs.

With temperatures soaring into the mid-30s, the Gallow IBC ace opened his bid in the singles on Sunday with a convincing 10-2, 9-7 first round victory over Geoff Maskell, who was Australia's PBA representative at the world indoor championships at Potters last month.

In the second round, King found promising Aussie Michael Clarke in good form, and was beaten, 9-4, 7-7 - though there was no knowing what might have happened if he had forced his home-grown opponent into a tiebreak. But it was in the pairs yesterday that King really came into his own - in partnership with his England team-mate Stuart Airey, from Cumbria.

After beating Brian Harrison and Alan Hughes, 14-2, 10-8, and Dylan Benwell and Dan Hudson, 12-3, 8-13, 2-1, King and Airey stand one win away from a place in the quarter finals, and will take on Lee Schraner and Neville Rodda tomorrow.

Today, King lines up with Airey and Graham Shadwell for a crack at the triples, before he and Airey resume their bid for the pairs.

t Back at home, Norfolk's Louise Knights and Wayne Willgress notched up a superb 22-16 win over Graham Shadwell's wife Debbie, and Russell Francis, from Clarrie Dunbar (Somerset) in the first round of the national mixed pairs in Northampton.

Thoughts that the title might be staying in Norfolk for the fourth year running were dashed when Knights and Willgress crashed out 22-12 at the hands of a pair from Tilbury in the second round.

In the Over-60s fours, Acle quartet John Marshall, David Cole, Denis Goodley and Tony Dunton swept into the second round with a 20-8 victory over Wealden, then defeated Bournemouth, 23-12, to clinch their place in the quarter finals.

t Norfolk's Dennis Cousins, who is coming to the end of his spell as Bowls England men's president, presented a cheque for £2,357 to Pat Dalrymple, a member of the Regional Fundraising Team at Addenbrooke's Hospital Cambridge - where work is to commence shortly on a unit specifically for teenagers with cancer.

Cousins, from Cromer, chose the Teenage Cancer Trust as his charity for 2009, and the donation will help the hospital provide units that are specially designed and equipped for patients aged between thirteen and twenty four - and go a long way to aiding their recovery.

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