Bowls: Smith just fails to retain title

Val Smith had to settle for a singles bronze medal. Photo / NZPA
Val Smith had to settle for a singles bronze medal. Photo / NZPA

New Zealand won two more medals at the world bowls championships in Adelaide yesterday but they weren't quite the colour they were after.

Reigning singles champion Val Smith won silver when she narrowly lost her final to Australia's Karen Murphy and Nelson's Shannon McIlroy had to be content with bronze in the men's singles.

Smith fought gamely in her final and over the last few ends pegged back Murphy's lead but the Australian held on to win 21-17.

In a match which amplified the exquisite skills needed to compete at the sport's dizziest heights, McIlroy fell marginally short in his bid for a tilt at the ultimate prize.

Australia's Leif Selby won the match 21-19, but it was McIlroy who captured the hearts and minds of the huge crowd with his cavalier play and richness of talent. He also secured New Zealand's fourth medal of these championships, and although bronze, in the process he established himself as a genuine star on the world stage.

The 25-year-old Black Jack, whose player profile notes, "I'm Maori, loud and proud", demonstrated courage and fighting spirit in the closing stages of the match when Selby appeared to have victory in his grasp.

And when he made a thrilling count of three to loom at 19-20, the packed Lockleys grandstands literally shook with excitement as spectators from all points of the compass acclaimed the two gladiators out there on the television rink.

But on the next end that Selby secured the vital shot for victory and a berth in the final against Canada's "Master Blaster" Ryan Bester.

- NZ Herald

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