Coates hangs on to Merit trophy

Bowls - Halifax and District v Fylde at Elland WMC. Gareth Coates for Halifax.
Bowls - Halifax and District v Fylde at Elland WMC. Gareth Coates for Halifax.

Gareth Coates of Akroydon Victoria retained the Halifax Association’s Merit title, sponsored by Quality Stoves, at Sowerby T & BC.

The defending champion had a 21-15 victory over club-mate Ian Smith in the final.

Coates struck good form early on, taking a 9-1 lead in his opening game against Brian Hildred of Laurel Crescent.

He finished with a break of seven to win by 21-12 after Hldred had fought back to within two chalks at 12-14.

Coates made a shaky start to his second game, against Clayton Victoria’s Paul Gill. He trailed by 3-9 before recovering to draw level at 12, then ran out with a break of nine to win by 21-12.

In his quarter-final against Phillip Holroyd of Hill Crest, Coates was 13-4 ahead before Holroyd rallied to within two chalks at 11-13.

A break of seven took Coates to all-but and although Holroyd threatened a late fight-back, Coates went on to win by 21-15.

Coates’ resolve was sternly tested in his semi-final against Siddal’s Martin Greenwood.

Little separated the two in the early stages with the scores level at seven before Coates pulled ahead 13-10.

Greenwood edged ahead at 14-13 but the scores were level again at 16 and 18. A pair brought Coates to all-but and, after a single to Greenwood, Coates went through 21-19.

Ian Smith scored a break of 12 on the way to his 21-7 victory over Hill Crest’s Jason Harris in his opening game.

He enjoyed a second comfortable victory, by 21-10, in his second game against another Hill Crest player, John Halliday.

In his semi-final,Smith faced Akroydon Victoria club-mate Julian Dawson.

Dawson led 4-0 after three ends but Smith drew level with consecutive pairs and gradually took control to win 21-13.

The lead changed hands several times in the first half of the final.

Smith led 4-3 before Coates moved ahead by 8-5. Smith went ahead again with three consecutive pairs to lead by 11-8 before Coates replied with a similar break to go ahead by 14-11.

After another double by Smith, a break of six took Coates to all-but.

Smith responded with two singles but Coates finished off the game at the next end to complete a successful title defence with a 21-15 victory.

Quarter-final scores: J. Halliday 10 I. Smith 21; A. Speechley 20 J. Dawson 21; P. Holroyd 15 G. Coates 21; M. Greenwood 21 L. Harris 20.

Two pages of bowls in Friday’s Courier