East Lothian pair go to Pott as jinx continues

THE Potters World Pairs hoodoo struck again for East Lothian golden boys Alex Marshall and Paul Foster with the star duo crashing out in the second round to 'Devon Destroyer' Ian Bond and Anglo Scot Andy Thomson, the No.7 seeds, in straight sets.

After linking up for their inaugural outing in 2004, the talented twosome – reigning Commonwealth champions who hold eight world singles titles between them – have failed yet again to get a sniff of the elusive title in Hopton on Sea. During their seven-year partnership, the pair have lost on two occasions in both the first round and the semis while they've stumbled at the quarter-finals stage three times.

In an evenly-contested opening set, their opponents – who won the title in 2008 – pulled off a sensational last-bowl drive to deny the Scots first blood, with Thomson getting an amazing series of connections to count the vital single to take the set 6-5.

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However, in the second, it was one-way traffic with Bond and Thomson stretching out to a 7-1 six-end lead, playing out the last three ends tactically to wrap up their victory 7-5.

A disappointed Foster admitted: "Over the piece, the best team won. The first set could have gone either way. We all competed well. However, Andy got the most amazing turnaround with his last bowl. He totally messed up his drive and set his bowl up the green like a Rubix cube. It bounced all the way down the rink, somehow connected with the head, elbowed in, scattered the bowls and then rolled to our holding shot and turned it out for a set lie.

"That was a big result and gave them a massive boost. Their tails went up and we were always chasing in the second.

"We'll just focus on the singles now. Alex and I will chill out, take things easy and practice a bit until our singles matches later this week. I don't play until late on Wednesday afternoon against Richard Morgan, which won't be an easy game, while Alex will have to blank out the noisy home support for local man Tim Stone on Thursday." Yesterday's result left Glasgow's David Gourlay as the lone Scot in today's semi-finals.

Gourlay and partner Billy Jackson, from Lincoln, who won back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007, got an easier-than-expected ride against top Aussie pair Brett Wilkie and Mark Casey from the Queensland Gold Coast.

They eased to the first set 11-3 then counted seven shots over the last three ends of the second to move through 10-3.

Standing between them and a place in tomorrow's final are defending champions Mervyn King from Norfolk and Queenslander Kelvin Kerkow. In the only tie-break of the quarter-finals, they were pushed all the way before getting the nod ahead of No.8 seeds Richard Morgan from Cardiff and Loughborough's Les Gillett 5-5, 8-6.

Bond and Thomson, meanwhile, will provide the opposition for the new pairing of Stowmarket's Mark Royal and Simon Skelton from Nottingham, surprisingly named as the No.3 seeds.

Arbroath's Darren Burnett steps up his singles campaign tonight against Kiwi Raika Gregory for a second-round spot against Les Gillett on Thursday.

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