Lawn Bowls / Annual Mixed Pairs final?Title Comes Down to Last Bowl of the Match?

It was an all-Ramat Gan final this week in the annual mixed pairs competition. Yair Bekier and Riki Ovadia came through a nail-biter when they beat club mates Rami Oron and Yael Bar-Ner 14-13. The game could have gone either way, and there was an element of luck which provided the single winning shot by Bekier?s very last bowl of the match.?

For Riki Ovadia it was earned compensation, having been runner-up in the previous year ? which had also been an all-Ramat Gan affair. For Bekier, who recently captained Israel?s team at the Atlantic Bowls Competition, it was another triumph on his comeback path.?

In 1991, at the age of 15, Bekier won Israel?s novices competition, and gained his full international cap in 1997 as well as a triples Gold Medal in the Maccabiah that year. After a 10-year absence from the game he has come back in grand style, accompanied happily with previous teammates of the same era.?

With Bar-Ner at lead providing accurate support, her partner Oron at skip consolidated the heads and with many accurate conversion shots the pair maintained a three to four shot lead almost throughout the 18-end game ? with a 12-7 lead at the 12th end. But though shots did not come to Bekier easily, he stayed within range with well-targeted bowls and his first break came through at the 14th end when he collected a three-count to close the gap to 12-11.?

By the 16th head Oron was 13-11 up and lying shot for 14-11, but playing his last bowl into a crowded head he was unlucky to find the slightest of touches to move the jack and concede the shot to his opponents, making the score 13-12 instead of a possible 14-11. In the penultimate end, Bekier carefully promoted a front bowl to the jack to level the score at 13-all for the start of the last end.?

With the mat well up, the leads each delivered their four bowls, with Bar-Ner holding two shots some 18 inches away from the jack. Neither skip got any nearer, and with Oron holding game he delivered a short bowl as an intended blocker. Bekier delivered his last bowl, probably with a prayer. His bowl was narrow and off target from the start, but connected with an outside wide bowl and glanced off towards the jack to lie the nearest winning shot.