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Mervyn King’s hopes of final place ended by good friend Greg Harlow

PUBLISHED: 16:17 09 March 2018 | UPDATED: 16:17 09 March 2018

Mervyn King in action during his semi-final defeat at Blackpool. Picture: David Rhys Jones

Mervyn King in action during his semi-final defeat at Blackpool. Picture: David Rhys Jones

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Norfolk estate manager Mervyn King emerged as hot favourite to win the Co-operative Funeralcare World Bowls Tour International Open title in Blackpool – before falling victim to his good friend Greg Harlow in Friday’s semi-finals.

King, who plays for the Gallow club in Fakenham, opened with a 12-3, 8-7 straight sets win over South African qualifier John Connellan, then overwhelmed world number two Nick Brett, from Huntingdon, 12-3, 13-9, to clinch his place in the last eight.

He looked certain to record another straight sets win over the Welsh Wizard Jason Greenslade when, after winning the first set, 7-6, he opened up a 7-0 lead after only three ends in the second set.

But the unpredictable Greenslade hit back to win the set 9-8 before King stamped his authority, winning the tie-break in back-to-back ends for a 7-6, 8-9, 2-0 victory that earned him a semi-final clash with Harlow.

Harlow currently occupies the role of Bowls Ambassador at Potters Resort in Hopton-on-Sea, where he won the world indoor singles title in 2010, matching King’s achievement in 2006.

Harlow does not play outdoors, but some years ago, he travelled from his home in Soham so the two former world champions could team up one year to play in the national outdoor pairs championship – though that experiment proved to be a failure.

In Friday’s semi-final, it was King who hit the front, and looked the likely winner when he raced into an 8-3 lead after six ends – but the wheels came off his challenge as he dropped two doubles and a treble to lose the first set 10-8.

Worse was to follow as the Norfolk star dropped seven shots in five ends at the start of the second set, and managed only a consolation double on the eighth end as Harlow sealed a 10-8, 10-2 victory, and earned a place in the final.

In the other semi-final, Bowls Scotland head coach David Gourlay was, for the most part, outplayed by his star player Alex Marshall, but performed well under pressure, and showed his ability to get out of trouble, winning 7-6, 4-13, 2-1.

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