"I am a Norfolk man and Glory in being so." Horatio Nelson

So close for Owen Cranston & Chris Mann in National Pairs

The Group stages of the National Pairs Championships saw Norfolk Pairs Champions Nigel Willard & Jamie Forster of Bob Carter fail to qualify for the knock-out rounds. They lost their first game in Group 8 by just one shot to Cheshire’s highly rated Steve Tinsley & Martin Walker and then saw their chances take a knock after an unexpected draw against Wiltshire’s Thomas Bright & Denise Wiltshire. They finally got a win in their last group game beating Herefordshire’s Ian Park & Tony Vitale 11-9 but it was too little too late. Norfolk’s other three pairs all qualified for the knock-out stages. Owen Cranston of County Council & Wymondham’s Chris Mann reeled off three straight wins to win Group 16. Their first victims were Cambridgeshire’s Tony Hart & Craig Buck who they beat 9-6, they followed this with an excellent 11-3 win against James Trott & Paul Pomeroy of Devon who would have fancied their chances to win this group. The Norfolk pair finished off their group games with another win against a highly rated pair, Chris Hopkins & Chris Weston of Northants, who they beat 12-6. Haddiscoe’s Kerry Greenacre & Halvergate’s Keith Cooke were unbeaten but had to settle for second place in Group 2. They opened with an 11-8 win against Humberside’s Michael Briston & Christine Brown but were held to a 6-6 draw by Paul Seaman & Andrew Beard of East Sussex. In their third game they beat Hertfordshire’s Steve Hipperson & Ken Murrey 11-5 and finished level with them on five points but with an inferior shot difference. Laura Hawksworth of Deaf Sports & Neil Davidson of Hempnall started off well in Group 15 with a 13-4 win against Surrey’s Janet Mentee & Terry Alexander but lost their second game by 10-7 against Somerset’s Carol & Keith Hawkins. A 12-4 win against Hertfordshire’s Darren Stanford & Brian McGiven though was enough to win the group on shots ahead of Somerset. This meant they would play the runners-up of Group 2 in the Last 32 knock-out round therefore resulting in an all Norfolk clash against Kerry Greenacre & Keith Cooke. Most would have expected this game to be a close one with possibly Greenacre & Cooke starting as favourites but Laura Hawksworth & Neil Davidson had other ideas as they powered to an emphatic 11-2 win. Owen Cranston & Chris Mann found themselves with class opposition in the shape of Bronagh & Lee Toleman of North Yorkshire. For Mann this brought to mind yesterday’s painful defeat against Bronagh Toleman in the very same stage of the National Singles Championships. This time round though it was Mann who came out on top as the Norfolk pair clinched a hard earned 9-7 win against a pair who were rated among the favourites for this title. The Last 16 round saw Owen Cranston & Chris Mann start as favourites against Dave & Ann Summers of Devon while Laura Hawksworth & Neil Davidson faced tough opposition in the form of Gloucestershire’s Ryan Knight & Vincent Dornan. Knight of course was crowned England Singles Champion yesterday for the second time in three years. Knight’s fantastic National Championships continued against the Norfolk pair as the Gloucestershire pair brought the great run of Laura Hawksworth & Neil Davidson to an end by beating them 10-5. But for Owen Cranston & Chris Mann it was another story as they beat Dave & Ann Summers 10-4 to earn a place in the quarter-finals against Josh Hale & Ross Dinkley of West Mids. The Norfolk pair had enjoyed a superb day of bowls all day winning every single game but the quarter-final brought disappointment as they lost 10-8 to the West Mids pair after a torrid last end. Going into the end at 8-8 Cranston & Mann held shot when Mann drew to the line but the West Mids skip took Chris Mann’s bowl out with his final wood to take two shots and a 10-8 win and end the young Norfolk pairs dreams of National title glory. The title was eventually won by Craig Strong & Jon Pitcher of West Mids after they beat Hampshire's Paul England & Ben Pay 10-8 in the final.

1