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Lawn raid is so poetic for Foster

AFTER the intoxicating drama of Sunday's semi-final against England, when Alex Marshall delivered the winning bowls with nerves of steel, yesterday was something of a walk in the park for Scotland's lawn-bowls kings.

Paul Foster checks the lie during yesterday's final at Kelvingrove Park. Picture: Colin Mearns
Paul Foster checks the lie during yesterday's final at Kelvingrove Park. Picture: Colin Mearns

Prior to these Games, there was an expectation that Marshall and Paul Foster would repeat their 2006 Commonwealth pairs victory and they could not have delivered in a more resounding fashion.

Their 20-3 final rout over Malaysia's Muhammad Hizlee Abdul Rais and Fairul Izwan Abd Muin secured Team Scotland's 12th gold medal, breaking the previous record of 11 won at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006, and it was a masterclass in how to perform under pressure.

"This is absolutely fantastic. I've won two gold medals before in the Commonwealth Games but this tops the lot," said Marshall. "Winning it in front of your own fans - you just can't beat it."

Foster added. "I didn't think anything would top winning the gold with Alex in the pairs eight years ago, but this does. It's phenomenal and is a feeling that will stay with me for the rest of my life."

Had it not been for an epic comeback the previous day, the home crowd would have had nobody to root for in yesterday's match. Behind for most of that semi-final, Marshall kept his best shots up his sleeve for the final end, and in the moment of triumph his celebration was more befitting of a football field than a lawn bowls green.

"We were well behind the whole game and couldn't peg them back. I took a chance in the third last end and got four back, which put us right in the game," Marshall explained. "Then going into the last end, it was anybody's. I managed to conjure up probably the best two bowls of my life and had a wee celebration at the end, which I enjoyed. You get caught up in the emotions of it."

Marshall freely admitted that their hard-fought victory against England gave Foster and himself a mental edge. "We all knew yesterday that whoever won our semi-final was going to be favourites to win the gold medal. I think that's part of the reaction I gave yesterday when we won," he said. "We both knew that it was going to be a hard game today but winning yesterday gave us a massive lift towards winning today."

Lawn bowls is perhaps seen as the most sedate of the 17 sports included at Glasgow 2014 but the raucous reception Foster and Marshall received from the crowd when they appeared for their final yesterday belied that reputation. However, the Scots' immediate dominance meant that victory was almost a foregone conclusion within half-a-dozen ends. The Malaysians did not get a point on the board until the 13th, at which point the crowd applauded with enthusiasm but also sympathy.

Marshall conceded that such a sizeable lead can make it difficult to maintain focus. "It's difficult to keep your concentration when you are 10, 12 or 14 in front but you can't take your foot off the gas because these guys are good bowlers. They've not made it to the final for nothing so you've got to keep your concentration going right to the end, which we did," he said.

The story of Foster's bowls being stolen from his bowling club prior to the Games had given the sport some unexpected press attention. They were ultimately recovered but the police retained them to do forensic tests, so the multiple world champion from Troon was forced to begin using new equipment just a few weeks before the biggest competition of his life.

"I managed to forget all about it. In a team event, you have to make sure you're not letting anyone else down," he said. "Alex got me another set straight away and I've hammered the greens with them over the past few weeks."

After a highly enjoyable walk in Kelvingrove Park, he might just consider sticking with them.

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