Monday, 9th April 2018 will live long in the memory of all Welsh bowlers and the friends and family of Daniel Salmon & Marc Wyatt – crowned 2018 Commonwealth Games Lawn Bowls Mens Pairs – GOLD medallists. Wales’ first ever winners of the Mens Pairs event.
The Welsh pair defied all the pre-match odds and early pressure from Scotland’s much fancied Paul Foster & Alex Marshall to claim a dramatic 12-10 victory. The Gold Medal match, screened live on BBC Television to thousands of viewers back home, kept everyone enthralled on the edge of their seats well into the early hours of Monday morning.
Foster & Marshall, defending their Gold medal from Glasgow 2014, settled the quicker of the pairs heading out to a 5-1 lead, with “Sparky” playing some brave shots to keep the Welsh pair in touch early on.
In a big turning point in the match, the pressure continued with Marc facing a count of five shots against him on the 6th end, without a certain outcome if the head were hit with one of his trademark drives. A solid contact into the head from a short bowl managed to move the jack through to the back with Marc’s bowl following through for shot. With Marshall short with his last bowl, “Sparky” was able to add another shot and sneak a double, with the score reduced to 5-3 as opposed to 10-1.
At 6-3 down, Wales rallied to win six ends on the spin, with lead Salmon, christened “Speedy” by TV commentators Ian Schuback & David Corkhill having an increasing influence on the game. Scotland’s early match precision was starting to wane slightly with a misjudged shot from four-time Commonwealth winner Marshall handing a two to the Welsh Pair to lead out 10-6 with 5 to play.
With Scotland winning the next three ends to tie the match up at 10-10, the final two ends proved to be nail-biting. On the 17th end, the position favoured Scotland, holding a nice two with deep position not allowing Marc to play a heavy conversion shot. However the Caerphilly Town man played a perfect bowl to trail the jack through to Daniel, holding a good two with one bowl from Marshall to come. A superb runner removed the two Welsh Bowls and pushed the jack out to the side of the rink. Marc safely drew in to claim one shot, never easy in the circumstances.
A great final end from Salmon, saw advantage Wales on the head, however promotion of a short Foster bowl by Wyatt forced Marshall into a firm shot removing both Welsh bowls, leaving the Scots with the shot and heading for an extra end. With both skips failing with their next two bowls, it was “Sparky” first to make the correct adjustment on his previous bowl drawing a front toucher.
Under the circumstances, it was one of the best bowls you’ll see, matching a similar dramatic effort by Marshall in the semi-final against England four years previous on the Kelvin Grove greens, Glasgow.
The final bowl of the match delivered by Marshall aiming to spring the jack through, but hung agonisingly wide handing an incredible victory to Wales.
With humble congratulations from Foster & Marshall, it was left to the rest of Team Wales to mob Dan & Marc in emotional scenes both on the green and in the stands.