There may have been a slice of good fortune as Andy Law and Lee Barber, from Bounds Green in North London, pulled off an upset as they beat Exonia’s hotly-tipped Ian Bond and Jamie Chestney in the men’s pairs last 16 on Wednesday morning.
Chestney, number eight in the WBT world ranking list, showed his class on the last end with Exonia trailing 14-11.
He thought he had done enough when he played a miraculous bowl to make four shots.
In reply, Barber, who had played well throughout, was a foot or so off target with his desperate drive, but to Chestney’s horror, sent a Bound Green bowl across the green into second position.
“It was a fluke,” admitted Barber. “But I think we deserved a bit of luck after going into the last end three shots in front of a pair of that quality.
“The bowl that Jamie played to make four shots was sheer class.”
In another nail-biting extra end finish, Hartlepool’s Carl Higgins and Paul Hartley trailed 14-8 after 12 ends and 17-10 with only two ends left against Adur’s Jack Fairhall and David Hubbard.
Scoring a five and a double, they tied the scores at 17-17, then clinched a place in Wednesday evening’s quarter-finals with a vital single on the extra end - after Hubbard had killed the end on the first attempt.
Bounds Green and Hartlepool came face to face in the last eight, but the giant-killers could not repeat their heroics.
Higgins - the EIBA’s Director of Competitions - and England player Hartley took an early 10-3 lead, stayed ahead, and came out on top, 18-11.
Lincoln’s Danny Brown and Billy Jackson, who won the title in 2001, were outplayed by Huntingdon’s Lewis Baker and Nick Brett, who won comfortably, 21-7.
World number two Brett has already won this title four times - three times with Greg Harlow.
Two pairs who have experienced defeat in the final made a bold bid to go one better this year.
Blackpool brothers John and Mark Dawes defeated Sam Moss and Russell Harmour, from the Chelmsford-based Falcon club, 20-11, while, on an end rink, Bournemouth’s Chris Daniels and Peter Ward were too good for Ian Wones and George Tubby, from Acle, winning, 16-7.
The Dawes brothers then turned in another impressive performance to beat Daniels and Ward, 25-8 in the quarter-finals and will play the Hartlepool pair on Thursday morning.
Huntingdon will face Doug Rumble and Martin Puckett, from the Weymouth-based Moonfleet 2000 club in the other semi-final.
Rumble and Puckett showed patience, but survived a virtual bombardment from the Malvern Hills duo, Shaun Jones and Ryan Atkins, whose skip, Atkins, frequently resorted to aggressive tactics.
But, as so often happens, finesse triumphed over force, and Moonfleet got home. 20-12.
Thursday’s order of play at Melton IBC:
9.30am – Men’s Pairs semi-finals: Blackpool NH v Hartlepool; Huntingdon v Moonfleet 2000.
9.30am – Women’s Pairs semi-finals: Taunton Deane v Banbury; Swale v Nottingham.
1.30pm - Women’s Vivienne Trophy inter-club championship final: Lincoln v Palmerston.
5.45pm - Men’s and Women’s Pairs finals