McIlroy into semis at bowls world champs
New Zealand's Shannon McIlroy sauntered into the singles' semifinals at the bowls world championship in Adelaide today and now strives to avenge a pool play loss to Australia's world No 2 Leif Selby to reach Sunday's decider.
Selby comfortably beat McIlroy 21-11 during the opening day of competition on November 24 and duly finished on top of their pool to avoid the post-section obstacle the Kiwi negotiated with ease at the Lockleys club.
McIlroy, who claimed the third and final qualifying spot, successfully readjusted from a disappointing pairs campaign with Richard Girvan to drub Jersey's Malcolm De Souza 21-3 and is now assured of collecting at least a bronze medal.
He was in control throughout and by the time he forged an 11-3 advantage a trans-Tasman tussle loomed on the horizon on Friday.
"He played outstandingly well and the other guy struggled to get into it. Shannon drew exceptionally well," said Bowls NZ head coach Dave Edwards.
He was confident McIlroy could reach the final against either Gerry Baker (South Africa) or Canada's Ryan Bester.
"He's got a very good chance, Selby's a good player but Shannon's beaten him on a number of occasions and if he plays like he did today he'll be there when the whips are cracking."
The championships' first gold medals are awarded tomorrow in the men's and women's pairs where Jo Edwards and Val Smith are bidding to retain the crown they won four years ago in Christchurch.
In-form Australians Kelsey Cottrell and Rebecca Quail promise to be a formidable opponent having topped the group before destroying Scotland's Claire Johnson and Margaret Letham 24-1 in yesterday's semifinal.
They also defeated Smith and Edwards 17-11 in the preliminary rounds - a result that gave Cottrell cause for optimism.
"I suppose we would be favourites but we just need to go in there thinking 'we did so well in that last game' and we need to try and replicate that.
"We feel quite comfortable playing them and do know a bit about the Kiwis. We already have a game plan set out."
Smith and Edwards had a sleep in to get over their tense one-point play-off and semifinal triumphs over England and the Philippines yesterday but did make it to the greens to support McIlroy.
The Black Jacks triples' combinations are also in action tomorrow with the women's post sectional play-off and ideally a semifinal against Scotland preceding Smith and Edwards' bid for gold.
Lisa White, Jan Khan and Mandy Boyd face their first sudden death clash against Hong Kong (Tammy Tham, Jessie So and Alice Lee), where victory assures them of at least a bronze.
Tony Grantham, Matt Gallop and Ali Forsyth can keep an eye on China and Australia in the morning before facing the winner in a semifinal later in the day.
Meanwhile, reigning champion Smith faces a rematch with Kelly McKerihen in the semifinals of the singles on Friday after the Canadian shaded Cliodhan Eadie of Ireland 21-18 on the 23rd end yesterday.
McKerihen will approach the game with a measure confidence after downing Smith by the same margin in pool play.
Australia's Karen Murphy or England's reigning Commonwealth Games champion Natalie Melmore will be the other finalist on Sunday.