EIBA National Finals at Melton: Paxton lays ghost to win singles title

Men's singles champion Rob Paxton (Taunton Deane) EMN-170404-131816002
Men's singles champion Rob Paxton (Taunton Deane) EMN-170404-131816002
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Rob Paxton made up for his defeat in the 2001 final by winning the men’s singles on Saturday as the EIBA National Indoor Bowls Championships drew to a close at Melton.

Sunday’s singles finals brought eight days of action to a close with the Taunton Deane bowler beating North Cave’s Stan Thompson, 21-9 to land the title.

Men's pairs champions Lewis Baker (Right) and Nicky Brett (Huntingdon) EMN-170404-131738002

Men's pairs champions Lewis Baker (Right) and Nicky Brett (Huntingdon) EMN-170404-131738002

Sixteen years ago, Paxton had led Les Gillett, in his pre-Melton days, 20-6, but the vital winning single remained elusive, and Gillett scored 15 shots on the trot to win 21-20.

“I’m a different player now,” said 38-year-old Paxton. “I was very young and inexperienced then, but I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again!”

This time, although the draw shot laid the foundations for victory, he also played some telling conversion shots.

The first came as early as the third end, when he struck two Thompson counters out of the head to score three shots - and he followed that with two more trebles to take command.

National EIBA president Mike Andrew, Mayor of Melton David Wright and Melton Indoor Bowls Club president Sue Lemon officially open the championships EMN-170404-132114002

National EIBA president Mike Andrew, Mayor of Melton David Wright and Melton Indoor Bowls Club president Sue Lemon officially open the championships EMN-170404-132114002

Hard as Thompson tried, he could not outdraw Paxton, and his running shots were generally off target.

Thompson had opened with a shock win over the defending champion Martin Spencer, from Spalding, on Friday, before taking the scalp of another former champion Dave Hubbard (Adur) in the quarter-finals.

Paxton, who struck gold at the world outdoor championships at Christchurch in December, when he skipped an England trio to the triples title, now qualifies to compete in the British Isles championships in March 2018.

* Lewis Baker and Nick Brett defeated John and Mark Dawes, 20-9, in last Thursday’s men’s pairs final, but the scoreline did scant justice to the standard of play in a gruelling contest.

After 10 ends, the scores were level at 9-9, but eight ends later, Baker and Brett were uncatchable at 20-9, so the Dawes brothers were forced to concede, leaving Brett, the WBT world number two, celebrating his fifth win.

Brett had previously won the title with Matt Marsden in 2004, and with Greg Harlow in 2011, 2012, and 2013 while a member of the City of Ely club.

He recently moved to Huntingdon and teamed up with Baker who is no stranger to the EIBA winner’s podium, having won the fours title with St Neots in 2015.

Huntingdon’s run-in from 9-9 was steady rather than dramatic, and in trying to chase shots, Dawes had some unfortunate results.

Baker and Brett scored on seven ends in succession, compiling a 2-1-2-1-1-2-2 sequence which left the Blackpool Borough duo for dead.

Earlier, spectators were treated to two outstanding semi finals when both matches could have gone either way.

Baker and Brett defeated Doug Rumble and Martin Puckett, from the Weymouth-based Moonfleet 2000 club, 17-9, and the Dawes duo beat Hartlepool’s Carl Higgins and Paul Hartley, 21-13.

But the Moonfleet duo had led 9-8 after 13 ends before Huntingdon broke free with a five, two singles and a double.

The Hartlepool pair, for whom lead Higgins was in particularly good form, were all square with Blackpool after 12 ends, before the Lancastrians scored three trebles on the last four ends.