Teenagers steal the show as favourites take tumble
David Rhys-JonesThose fortunate enough to be present at Potters Leisure Resort yesterday were given a dramatic reminder that the sport of bowls is changing, as two talented teenagers upset the applecart in the WBT world indoor singles championship.David Rhys-Jones
Those fortunate enough to be present at Potters Leisure Resort yesterday were given a dramatic reminder that the sport of bowls is changing, as two talented teenagers upset the applecart in the WBT world indoor singles championship.
On Monday, the remarkable 71-year-old Willie Wood had struck a blow for the older generation, proving once again, albeit in defeat, the old adage that 'bowls is a young man's game that old men can play.'
But here was the reality of bowls in the 21st Century - 17-year-old Welsh starlet Jarrad Breen and 19-year-old Aussie Ben Twist providing the evidence that this is a sport in which keenness of eye and suppleness of limb are a great help.
While Queenslander Twist pulled off a shock 7-5 8-4 win over the provisional world number four Ian Bond, Breen toppled Stowmarket's world number two Mark Royal, 2-7 7-5 2-0.
Welshman Jason Greenslade, who earlier edged home 11-6 7-7 against Australia's Brett Wilkie claimed Breen to be "The future of bowls in Wales," - adding that former world champions Robert Weale and John Price have both identified the teenager from the Rhondda as someone worthy of taking on their mantle when they retire.
Breen, who defeated Geordie Rob Chisholm in the first round, left the rink in a daze, and could not believe he had beaten the world number two.
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"I really don't know how I came to win that game," Breen said. "I didn't play as well as I did in my first game. It's totally fantastic - just amazing - Mark played better than I did, but I'm through to the next round."
He added: "I can't take it all in. I'm just living the dream. I wasn't nervous at all today, and didn't deserve to win - but I'm just relieved to get through."
Royal, too, looked shell-shocked when he turned up to meet the press, saying: "I feel totally numb. I'm in shock. How the hell did I lose that game?
"I honestly think that's the best I've played at Potters. I was getting my first two bowls close, then covering and blocking well. I don't know what more I could have done?"
While it was true that Royal was more consistent on the draw, Breen had the knack of playing the 'big' bowls when required - especially at the end of the first set, and in the tie-break. So, although Royal built up good heads, he saw a lot of his good work destroyed by brilliant out-of-the-blue deliveries from Breen, who celebrated his shock victory with an athletic leap into the air.
With a place in the quarter-finals at stake, Breen is lined up to play Nick Brett in the third round next Wednesday afternoon.
Aussie teenager Twist surprised Bond, who was fresh from his triumph on Sunday in the pairs with Andy Thomson.
"I was nervous at the start, but settled down to win the first set, and raced ahead in the second," said Twist. "It's my first time at this level, so it's an eye-opener for me, and I can hardly believe I'm rubbing shoulders with some of the greats of the sport."
He added: "The pressure started building towards the end of the second set, and I got a bit 'shaky', but I got my head down, managed to save a potential four on one end, and drew the shot to win the game on the last end.