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Other Sports - 24. January 2008.

Champion Brown Downed As Ceri Ann Carries On At Potters

In a fairytale climax to a remarkable maiden appearance in the Potters Holidays World Indoor Bowls Championships in Norfolk, unseeded Welsh-born Australian Ceri Ann Davies beat England's second seed Debbie Stavrou in today's final of the engage Ladies World Matchplay Championship to claim her second World Bowls Tour title in four days at Potters Leisure Resort in Hopton-on-Sea.




The 29-year-old sports psychologist from Port Talbot, now based in Queensland, followed her historic achievement last week in becoming the first woman to reach the third round of the World Singles Championship - where she took reigning champion Alex Marshall the full distance before bowing out - by partnering world number one David Gourlay to Mixed Pairs success on Sunday.


And today, after despatching Scotland's favourite and defending champion Caroline Brown in the quarter-finals, Davies defeated Stavrou, from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, 11-7, 10-1 in a game seen live on BBC TV.


Davies got off to a cracking start, scoring three shots in the opening end. But Stavrou came back to level the score, then staged a significant comeback from 4-10 down to take a triple in the penultimate end to go within three shots of tying the set.


The bubbly Australian made sure of winning the end to claim the set, however, then won six ends from 0-1 down in the second to clinch the match with two ends to spare.


Holding back the tears of joy as she spoke to BBC TV's Clare Balding, Davies admitted that it had been a "rollercoaster of a week" in the championships at Potters.


"At the end of the first end, I started to think of the winning post, and went off a bit," said the 2006 Commonwealth Games silver medallist. "But then I got my head down.


"I'm feeling more a sense of relief than anything else. I really wanted to do something special in bowls. And though I've won a silver medal in the Commonwealth games, and made history by reaching the third round of the open singles event, this means much more to me.


"This achievement is much more important - it's my second world title - and I've never won a major singles tournament in my life before!


"But winning in bowls isn't just about this - I want to do coaching and inspire young people. For instance, I would love to coach the first black woman to be a world champion. But you've got to win something like this to have the credibility to do something like that," continued the new engage world champion.


"That's why you've got to respect Carol Ashby - she's the best indoor player in the world and has won this title twice.

"I would love to make the world's top 16 and be able to play all the WBT tournaments in the season - spending half the year in Australia and the other half in the UK when I could see my family."


Davies then paid tribute to her pairs partner David Gourlay, the world number one who was born and raised in Scotland, but is now also based in Australia. "Just being around David has made me feel better about being me. I just love him to death - and I've only known him a week!


"This has given me the confidence that I am good enough to perform in Australia," concluded Davies.


There was double Lincolnshire success in the two third round Potters Holidays World Indoor Singles Championships games also played today on the WBT's portable rink.


"Not a bad day for a Spurs' fan," was Billy Jackson's comment as he rolled up in the morning for his game against fourth seed Paul Foster within hours of his team's sensational 5-1 Cup victory over north London rivals Arsenal.


Clearly 'spurred' on by this triumph, the 13th seed from Lincoln upset the three-time world champion from Scotland 7-7, 8-3.


Two shots ahead of his opponent in the final end of the first set, Jackson delivered an inch-perfect bowls which reduced Foster's two-shot advantage. But the Scot's reply was equally well-placed - retrieving the advantage to tie the set. But Jackson maintained his lead throughout the second before clinching victory with an end to spare.


Jackson, now in the quarter-finals for the third time in four years, said: "The last game was massive for me - beating Steve Glasson to make sure of vital ranking points for next season - and this has bumped it up again!"


The 37-year-old world No14 admits that his game has improved in recent years: "I think I've tried to relax a bit more - and just go out and enjoy it. And that has boosted my game."


Foster, the 34-year-old from Troon in Ayrshire who currently tops the provisional world rankings for next season, said: "I thought I deserved to win the first set - but he played the big bowls well and it just didn't go for me.


"I was banging them in in practice, but I just couldn't play the big bowls today, and that's what you've got to do in the big championships.


"Good luck to Billy - he deserves it. If he carries on playing like this, he has a real chance."


In the final match of the day, unseeded Graham Smith prevailed 7-6, 9-9 in a tight encounter against Welshman John Price, the 15th

seed.

After losing the first set by a single shot, Price, the 47-year-old former champion from Port Talbot who made his world championship debut in 1982, played an excellent penultimate end in the second set to leave Smith needing a double.

"The worst end of the game I played was that end," said the dejected Welshman later as he discussed his 7-6, 9-9 defeat - when he left Smith with a straightforward draw with his final bowl to get the required two shots.


Smith, who made the semi-finals in his event debut as a qualifier four years ago, was understandably delighted. "I like it at Potters. But I wish I liked it as much at the other venues - as I never seem to do as well there!


"But the big game was the last round when I beat David Gourlay in the second round - 20 ranking points against him was massive."

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