King's fans must wait

PUBLISHED: 13:46 07 January 2009 | UPDATED: 10:34 07 July 2010

The World Bowls Tour circus rolled into Norfolk this week - and will be the focus of attention at Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton for the next three weeks.

The World Bowls Tour circus rolled into Norfolk this week - and will be the focus of attention at Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton for the next three weeks.

“It certainly gets the sporting new year off to a good start,” said the county's great hope, Fakenham Gallow's Mervyn King.

He is playing as well as ever, and is sure to have a serious crack at regaining the world title he won in 2006.

This year, there is the bonus of another local contender for the world's top prize, after Acle's Tim Stone emerged from the PBA play-offs to set up a first-round encounter with Australia's Andrew Howie.

But supporters of both face a tantalising wait to see them in action.

Stone will have to wait until Sunday before challenging Howie, while King - the No 7 seed - is preparing to take on the winner of that intriguing first-round match the following Wednesday.

The event also gives Alex 'Tattie' Marshall the chance to consummate his love-affair with the Potters arena by winning the title for the sixth time in 11 years.

“I don't really know what it is about the place - but everything always seems to click for me there,” says Marshall.

“Potters have a fantastic set-up, unlike any other venue. The longer our world championships are held there, the better - in fact, it's a pity all of our WBT events can't be staged at Potters. It would certainly be good for me.”

A big question hangs over the ability of the elite top 16 to hang on to their places after so many seeds bit the dust in the previous event - the International Open in Burgess Hill in November.

Nine of the 16 seeds crashed out in the first round

Robert Weale and Jason Greenslade, who have twice been runners-up in the WBT world indoor pairs championship, survived a scare on Monday and were relieved to get past qualifiers Neil Chandler and Dave Howes 11-2, 5-7, 2-0.

In a big shock Tuesday night night, the No 3 seeds Mark Royal and Greg Harlow, crashed out at the hands of Welsh PBA qualifiers Mark Harding and Phil Rowlands in the first round of the pairs. The Cardiff duo's 7-7, 10-1 victory was no fluke because Royal, from Stowmarket, and Harlow, from the City of Ely, managed to tie the first set thanks mainly to an against-the-run-of-play full house of four shots.

The Welsh pair are likely to face Mervyn King and Aussie Kelvin Kerkow for a place in the semi-finals - though King and Kerkow first have to get past the South Africans, Rino Lozzi and Craig Rimmington.

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