Pictured are Paul Diment and Ryan Thomas of Tenby who won the National Open Pairs Championship of Wales this month in Llandrindod Wells.
After winning the Pembrokeshire Pairs title, narrowly beating clubmates Peter Day and Andrew Muskett, they qualified for entry to the National Finals for the second successive year.
In 2017, the pair fell at the first hurdle but managed to safely navigate their way to the quarter finals where they met the 5 times record holders Robert and David Weale of the Presteigne club.
After taking a 15-6 lead all seemed to be going to plan for the Tenby pair. However, Robert Weale, twice a Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist had other ideas and started playing world class bowls to level things up. With their backs against the wall, the Tenby pair made a final push to win the match 19-16.
The semi-final saw them play Rhys Roberts and Warren Humphries of Caerau, a former mining village, 2 miles from Maesteg. After a tense opening, the Tenby pair took control and went into the final end, 7 shots to the good.
With only a maximum of 8 shots to be scored in a single ‘end’ or play, the game was closed out in comfortable style although Paul was first to admit that the score line was not reflective of a very close game.
The final, Paul’s fifth and Ryan’s first was to be played against twins, Geoff and Ian Mellor of Skewen. Disaster struck on the first ‘end’ when the Skewen Skip, Geoff Mellor played a great shot to make 5 shots. A single followed, and Tenby were quickly 6 shots down.
Paul, a Welsh International and Ryan, an Under 25 International Skip, soon used all their experience to pull things around and over the next 4 ends, took the lead at 7-6. The game ebb and flowed with the lead changing hands over the course of the next few ‘ends’.
Tenby then took a slender lead 12-9 but then conceded a 3 followed by a 2 and a 1 to fall 15-12 behind.
Momentum was well and truly with the opposition until Paul and Ryan, against the run of play took a county of 5 shots to lead 17-15. Again, the game took the same pattern as the earlier exchanges until the Skewen pair took a count of 3 shots on the 19th end to get themselves on the brink of victory.
Again, the talented Tenby pair rallied to reduce the deficit to only one shot going into the last end. Paul made shot with a ‘back toucher’ but the Skewen skip placed a bowl 12 inches behind. Ryan, trying to win the game played a great shot but instead of touching Paul’s bowl, touched the ‘jack’, resulting in it moving to the Skewen Skip’s bowl.
The Tenby pair were now championship down. A shot was manufactured which meant that Ryan had to ‘drive’ at a ‘wing’ bowl and deflect of it – into Paul’s bowl to ‘plant’ the shot bowl out. In laymen’s terms a World class shot was required and commeth the man, commeth the hour as Ryan played the shot with perfection and no little amount of nerve.
With the match saved, the Tenby pair now entered into an extra end of what had now become a four-hour match. After opening exchanges, Skewen held the shot, 6 inches away from the ‘jack’. Ryan narrowly failed with his first bowl, but how the second was perfect.
A delighted Paul ran down the green to celebrate with his partner for his second World Class shot in a matter of 10 minutes. Now the pressure suddenly swung back to the Skewen skip, Geoff Mellor, himself a former international. Geoff played a great bowl, connecting perfectly with