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Spalding Indoor Bowls Club's Stephen Harris and Graham Smith have won the men’s national pairs title

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Stephen Harris and Graham Smith added to Spalding Indoor Bowls Club’s excellent start to the season by winning the men’s national pairs title for 2019/20.

The national qualifiers would have no doubt been disappointed when Covid-19 struck and the 2019/20 finals could not go ahead. However, they were able to be completed this month at Nottingham Indoor Bowls Club.

In the last 16, Harris and Smith beat Whiteknight’s Carl Brooks and Paul Maynard 18-13 before an extremely comfortable 25-13 quarter-final win against Jason Norris and Tim Houghton from Blackpool Newton Hall.

National pairs champions Stephen Harris and Graham Smith.
National pairs champions Stephen Harris and Graham Smith.

This set up a semi-final clash with the home favourites, who were skipped by former world pairs champion Simon Skelton.

The Spalding pair showed no early nerves as they raced into a 7-2 lead before Skelton and his partner narrowly took the lead, 13-10 at 12 ends.

A couple of big counts helped Harris and Smith take a 20-14 lead before closing out a 22-18 victory to set up an eagerly-anticipated clash with yet another former world champion in Nicky Brett and his partner Lewis Baker from Huntingdon.

Baker and Brett actually won this title back in 2016/17, so it was always likely to be a closely contested affair and that proved to be exactly the case.

Harris and Smith were the early pacesetters as they took a 13-6 lead. However, 12 shots in four ends saw the Huntingdon pair lead 18-13.

The Spalding boys showed incredible grit and determination as they led 21-18 going in to the last end.

Baker and Brett played a very good end, which saw them holding the four shots they needed for the title with Smith’s last bowl in hand.

Fortunately, Smith managed to move the jack far enough to only drop three shots and set up an extra end finale.

The men’s pairs was part of the last session, so a final with an extra end seemed like a fitting conclusion to the championships.

Harris and Smith were always in control of the extra end as they held their nerve to lift the national pairs title.

It was an extra-special moment for Harris as he won his maiden national title, while Smith added the pairs title to his already impressive CV.

They will now represent England at the British Isles Championships in Belfast in March.

Spalding’s Under 30s double triples team started their pursuit of a national title with a comfortable 39-24 win against Barwell.

The main damage was done at home by the rink skipped by Jordan Philpott, with Ruby Hill and Lewis Parnell winning 25-9.

Parnell, Louise Harris and Dominic McVittie all made their debuts for the club.

Spalding’s friendly bowlers hosted a team from Peterborough on Saturday.

They won on five of the six rinks and by an overall score of 116-69.

The top winning rink was Edna Perkins, Alan Tokley and Trish Stafford, who had an impressive 29-3 rink win. Tokley was also captaining the team for the first time.

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