Para-bowls silver medal for New Zealand triple
IAN ANDERSON IN GLASGOW
The Grandmaster almost extricated his team from checkmate.
Mark Noble, skip of the New Zealand para-bowls open triples team, nearly pulled off a remarkable comeback effort before his side was pipped 13-11 by South Africa in the final at the Kelvingrove greens in Glasgow.
The Kiwi trio of Lynda Bennett, Barry Wynks and Noble had to come from 7-1 down and while they never led during the 15-end match, they were poised to force the final into an extra end until South African skip Derrick Lobban played a shot worthy of a champion to seal a 13-11 win for his side.
The South African threesome of Deon van de Vyver, Roger Hagerty and Lobban were the more accurate in the early stages and pulled away to a 7-1 lead after four ends, and as the rain began to drizzle under leaden skies, NZ hopes looked bleak.
But with lead Hamilton's Bennett finding her range, the Kiwis clawed their way back into the contest.
Noble, a chess Grandmaster, also chipped in with a few crucial deliveries at the conclusion of the ends and midway through the final, New Zealand had drawn level at 7-7.
South Africa then edged away again, and led 12-9 with two ends left to play, it seemed again that gold was unlikely.
But Feilding's Noble came staggeringly close to reversing fortunes.
He produced a magnificent draw with weight to knock out the South African shot bowl and give NZ two shots to draw within one with one to play.
Bennett's second and final delivery in the last end gave the shot NZ required to level the scores, but the first of Lobban's two bowls pushed her bowl back and gave South Africa the advantage.
Noble looked to have again produced a moment of magic when his draw left NZ sitting one-up, with just Lobban's last bowl remaining.
But the rival skip was up to the task, as his draw played with a little extra weight, moved Noble's shot off the head enough to give South Africa the win.
"He just played a screamer with the last bowl to beat us after we'd virtually done enough to force the extra end," Noble admitted.
"I was pretty happy with my last bowl," said Bennett, who had her left arm amputated after a car accident in 1989.
"It was really on the jack, then they moved it. I was pretty pleased with Mark then putting one on the jack, but they played a great bowl too."
Noble said the side fought hard in a high-quality final.
"We all had our moments - it's pretty hard out on these greens for us Kiwis.
"We're so used to 17-20 second [greens], these are still running at about 11, and people back home don't realise how hard that actually is for us to adapt to that."
Men's singles exponent Shannon McIlroy is now New Zealand's last hope of improving their bowls medal tally of three when he plays his bronze-medal match tomorrow.
McIlroy went down 21-10 to Canada's Ryan Bester in his semifinal, leaving the Nelson bowler to contest the bronze medal match against Australia's Aron Sherriff.
However, there won't be a second medal for Jo Edwards and women's pairs partner Val Smith as they succumbed 14-10 to Northern Ireland's Mandy Cunningham and Barbara Cameron after leading 10-6 through 12 of the 18 ends of their quarterfinal.
Edwards earlier won the women's singles gold while Smith was part of the four with Selina Goddard, Amy McIlroy and Mandy Boyd that gained bronze in the four.