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Pembrokeshire Pair Retains World Championship and the Triples Title Returns to the County

Pembrokeshire pair, Jonathan Gladstone and Andrew Hudson retained their World Pairs crown at the recently held Short Mat Bowls World Championship. The World Triples title also returned to Pembrokeshire with Jamie Stiles winning the championship with Llian Llewelyn (West Glamorgan) and Andrew Jones (Montgomery).

The 2023 World Championship was a catch up event following the years lost to the Covid-19 Pandemic. The 20 strong Team Wales traveled to Aberdeen, Scotland over the weekend of March 17-19, which included nine representatives from Pembrokeshire.

The 9 were; Jonathan Gladstone and Andrew Hudson (Hook),  Alan Evans, Andrew Evans, Mikey John and Jamie Stiles (Tavernspite) and James John-Davies, Sean Hughes and Mark Thorpe (The Meads). Haydn John- Davies also represented Pembrokeshire, umpiring at the event.

Games were played in four different disciplines, singles, pairs, triples and rinks (fours) and World Champions would be crowned in each. Countries split their teams into two groups, A and B.

There was a strong start from Team Wales on day one. In Group A of the singles, Mikey won his 3 games against the Isle of Man (23-1), Canada (21-10) and Belgium (15-7). In the pairs Jonathan and Andrew  won their 3 games in Group A, against Sweden (29-7), Scotland (14-13) and Ireland (14-7). Mark , Alan and Andrew were also in Group A in the triples and had a tricky day in Group A of the triples with loss against Norway (10-12), 2 wins against Sweden (23-3) and Canada (17-5) , a draw with England (11-11). In Group B, Jamie, playing with LLian Llewelyn (West Glamorgan) and Andrew Jones (Montgomeryshire) had a good day with a win against Canada (20-3), a loss against England (8-9) and 2 wins against Belgium (19-3) and Norway(13-12). The rink including James and Sean, playing with Cennydd Howell (Carmarthenshire) and Richard Arran (Swansea), were in Group B had a very strong start with 3 wins against Sweden(15-3) , Norway (26-3) and Canada (29-3).

Day 2 was a day of mixed fortunes for Team Wales. Mikey finished the day on top of Group A with further wins against Scotland (17-10), Ireland (22-7), Norway (26-6) and England (19-11), meaning a win against Germany or Sweden on the final morning would see him through to the semi-finals. In Group A of the pairs, 2 wins against England (11-9) and Norway (15-11) followed by a loss to Belgium (8-19) and a win against Canada (31-7) for Jonathan and Andrew meant they sat in 2nd, with two wins against India and Italy would guarantee a semi-final spot.  A loss in their first match against Scotland (12-13) and 2 wins against Germany (13-5) and Isle of Man (24-5) In Group A of the triples, saw Mark, Alan and Andrew sit 4th in the group. With teams above them playing each other on the final day, unfortunately they would be out of the running of a semi-final spot. In Group B, Jamie, Llian and Andrew sat 3rd after a win against Scotland (16-7) a loss to Ireland (9-10) and a win against The Netherlands (17-8). They would need 2 wins on the final morning and hope that other results went their way to make it through. In Group B of the rinks, Cennydd, James, Richard and Sean had a narrow defeat to England (8-9), a good win against Belgium (17-4) but another narrow defeat to Ireland (14-10). This saw them sit 4th and unfortunately with only one game on the final morning, a semi-final place was just out of reach. 

Sunday was finals day, but there were 3 rounds of group games to be finished. Mikey has a little slip in his first game against Sweden (14-15) but got back to winning ways beating Germany (18-9), qualifying in top spot from Group A and a semi-final against Sweden. Jonathan and Andrew beat Italy (17-5) and India (20-10) meaning they finished 2nd in Group A and a semi-final against Wales awaited. In Group A of the triples Mark, Alan and Andrew, had two defeats to Ireland (14-5) and Belgium (10-8).  Group B saw two wins against Isle of Man (13-11) and Sweden (15-5) and other results were favourable, meaning a 2nd place finish and a semi-final spot against Norway.  A good win for Cennydd, James, Richard and Sean against Scotland (12-6) saw them finish in 4th in Group B.

After lunch saw the semi-final match ups. In the singles semi-final Mikey played Jonas Hager (Sweden). The atch was a close affair which would be decided by an extra end. Mikey held his nerve and fought his way through to the World final.

The pairs semi-final saw a rematch of last year’s final between Jonathan and Andrew and the other Welsh pairing of Aled Edwards and Dafydd Howell (Carmarthenshire). The pair seemed to control the match and ran out 16-8 winners. This meant they would contest the final again for the second year in a row. 

In the triples semi-final, Llian, Jamie and Andrew played against the previously unbeaten Norway triple. Again, the Welsh triple controlled the game well and ran out 13-7 winners to contest the World final.

Wales had representatives in the singles and pairs 3rd/4th play offs in Arwel Morgan (West Glamorgan) and Aled and Dafydd.

Singles Silver Medal for Mikey

The singles final between Mikey and Alex Kley of England, was arguably the game of the tournament. There was never more than 2 shots between the two which saw both take the lead at different points of the match. Alex played a nerveless last bowl of the match and it ended 10-10. Mikey won the toss and elected to take the jack. Both he and Alex took aim and missed before Mikey ditched the jack. Alex drew one of his bowls close which meant a measure to decide the championship. By the slimmest of margins, The title went to England.

Pairs Perfection

The pairs final was a high quality affair between Jonathan and Andrew and the Oriel pair of Keiran and Sean Trainer (Ireland) Jonathan and Andrew took the lead and held it through most of the match,  but the Irish pair kept pegging them back. Leading by two shots with only a couple of ends to play, Jonathan and Andrew played a precise end which saw the jack end up in the ditch between 3 Welsh bowls. This was enough to earn them the title by 14 shots to 9.

Retaining the title they won last year, they became the first pair to ever retain the World Pairs Championship. A second title for Jonathan and a fourth for Andrew, taking him to within one of the overall Welsh record.

Triumphant Triples

Llian, Jamie and Andrew played the triples final against the English triple of Adam Easthorpe. Nathan Caines and Josh Hale (West Midlands). Renowned for the volume which accompanies their matches, the English triple looked to play with more weight than the Welsh. Llian led well and reduced the English ability to do so. Jamie played some deft touches around the head and the left handed Andrew played a controlled game at skip. They game went down to the final bowl when holding 2, the Welsh trio became the World Champions. 

A second triples title in a row for Wales, and a first for Jamie.