BOWLS: Hill and Spencer secure national pairs title
Royal Mail Cart’s Steve Hill and Martin Spencer are only the second Lincolnshire pair in history to win the national championships.
They were representing the county in Leamington Spa after coming through a series of qualifying matches throughout the course of the season.
In the first round, Hill and Spencer faced Berkshire’s Mitchell Cooper and Chris Hitt.
At the halfway stage, the Royal Mail Cart pair found themselves only a few shots in front.
However, they pulled away in the second half of the match and secured a convincing 22-12 victory.
The second round against Hertfordshire’s Scott Lepley and Alan Hutchinson saw a similar pattern.
After a closely fought first few ends, Hill and Spencer were expecting a tough match – especially as the Hertfordshire pair beat England international Andrew Walters from Worcestershire.
However, a collection of quality bowls saw Hill and Spencer secure another comfortable win, this time with a score of 29-6.
At this stage, Lincolnshire’s other representative from St Giles lost to a Sussex pair who went out in the semi-final.
In the last 16, a tough test against Chris Moore and Joe Dawson saw Hill and Spencer start well and with three ends to play, they found themselves 19-9 in front with one foot in the quarter finals.
The Leicestershire pair refused to go out without a fight and collected a score of five shots on the 19th end to make for a tense finish and the crowd anticipated a late comeback.
Hill and Spencer ensured that wasn’t the case and won the next end to win 20-14.
Hill and Spencer faced Aaron Southgate and Josh Hadfield from Devon in the quarter-final.
This went similarly to the first two rounds where the Royal Mail Cart players dominated the heads early on in the match and, although the young Devon pair played some good bowls of their own, Hill and Spencer won comfortably 20-9.
Cumbria’s John Baird and Rick Gallagher beat Sussex pair Paul Gandy and Darren Anderson 23-21 to reach the final.
Against Will Parker and Kevin Alder from Oxfordshire, Hill and Spencer started well and raced into an 11-1 lead.
A comeback saw Hill and Spencer 18-15 up with only three ends to play.
On the 19th end, the Lincolnshire pair once again took control as they collected a count of four shots and a 22-15 lead with only two ends to play.
Hill and Spencer played the next end well to collect one shot to secure a 23-15 win.
In the final, Hill and Spencer raced into another early lead, this time 8-1, and extended their advantage slightly to 17-9 with only seven ends to play.
But the Cumbrian pair refused to let them run away with the final and pulled the score back to 19-15 with three ends to play.
On the 19th end, Spencer found himself two shots down with his last bowl in hand.
Spencer played the perfect conversion to make one shot but Gallagher still had one bowl remaining.
He played a perfect push and stop to make three shots for the Cumbria pair and bring the score back to 19-18 and ensure an exciting finish for the spectators and a tense finish for the players.
The Lincolnshire pair consolidated the 20th end well after Hill played a good lead bowl to collect a single and go into the last end 20-18
A tense last end for all four players saw Baird and Gallagher holding one shot with only one bowl left for both Spencer and Gallagher.
Spencer played the perfect draw around a series of front bowls to draw a close second bowl, hold championship lie and make it exceptionally
difficult for Gallagher with his last bowl.
Fortunately for Hill and Spencer, Gallagher missed a very tough shot – meaning that the Royal Mail Cart pair secured at 20-19 victory and won the national pairs title for the first time.
This is the third national title that Spencer has won having won the 2012 outdoor national under-25 singles and, the indoor national singles in 2016.
Hill’s first national title proved to be the perfect gift with his birthday being the following day.
Hill and Spencer were presented with the trophy and a cheque for £800 with the competition sponsored by Bowling Abroad.
They will now represent England at the British Isles Championships in 2018 which is also being hosted by Leamington Spa.