With the target of 2518 to beat. the youngsters on the second and final squad of the 2012 European Youth Championships found themselves with a mountain to climb.
Maybe the lesser talented players were scheduled to perform in the first squad, the more talented in the second? Only time will tell, but asking around it seems that the higher ranked are on the second squad. The 2518 is well short of the championship record of 2679 which was set by Sweden in 2000, so that is due to be beaten.
If it looked as though the Swedish deuo would come out of the gate at a gallop it turned out to be more of a canter as neighboring Finland took over the running to post their opener of 463 with Norway second on 459 to tie Sweden but advance through the higher last game. The Latvians are once again in the frame, just one pin behind Sweden and Germany.
When the dust settled after game two. But wait, there is no such thing as dust in the pristine Lovvang Bowl, so let’s change that to the heat of battle. Thus the standings find Germany in command with 876, 54 pins ahead of Norway (852) and with Finland trailing in third (851).
Top score of the squad after two games is a 267 from Scotland’s Stuart Snedden, helping his team to a 423 but still in ninth place overall.
After the third game, the halfway stage, few seemed to be on course to take over from the 2518 set by Sweden in the first squad, but most of the high scores this morning came from the last three games when the lanes seemed to open up and the carry improved so much.
How many hundred spectators packed the wide concourse of Lovvang Bowl has yet to be determined but all seemed enthralled at the talents of these youngsters.
That talent shone through for Finland’s Jesse Kallio and Niko Kurppa well in front of the pace with 1,310, a fantastic three-game 737 for Kallio and 537 from partner Kurppa. Kallio also upped the high game of the day, shooting 268 to steal Scotland’s thunder by a solitary pin.
Just to make it an all-Scandinavian affair, Norway came back with 1285 for second place and Sweden third with 1274. Denmark failed to make it a quartet by dropping to seventh although their Markus Bergendorff, son of world-famous international coach Goran, had 678 for his first three games with his unique two-handed delivery.
There are many two-handers to be seen across the lanes, a style that seems to be rapidly growing in all corners of the world. “During the past year this style has considerably increased,” said the Norwegian federation’s Erik Garder. “I think nearly every European country now has players using that style of delivery.”
A 420 per game is required for a chance to reserve a place in tomorrow’s play-offs so 1680 should be on course after four games. Three countries are in with a chance according to our statistics, Sweden, now leading with 1707, Finland, 1694, and Norway, a bit back on 1687. Just to make it all Scandinavians as frontrunners, Denmark slot neatly into fourth place now on 1658.
The two best players after four games are Kallio of Finland with 939 and Denmark’s Bergendorff with 935, a 234 average.
Into the penultimate game and much pressure on the leaders to keep up the pace.
2,100 is now the target after five games and there is now only one team in contention, Sweden lead with 2132. Finland are second, 2099, Norway third, 2098, and Germany spoil the Scandinavian rout by slipping into fourth place with 2018, just one pin ahead of fifth placed Denmark.
Down the home straight now and it looks as though Sweden’s Andersson and Nilsson, leaders of the first squad, will not be featuring in the play-offs, although things may change as the pressure grows.
As the teams came home only one duo managed to top the Swedish score of 2518 set this morning and that was only beaten by their team-mates Filip Wihelmsson and Jesper Svensson with 2582.
Joining those two in the play-offs tomorrow will be number three seed Finland (2505) and fourth seeded Norway (2468).
The semi-finals will be between Sweden 2 and Norway, Sweden 1 and Finland. Both winners will, of course advance to the final and the losers will be awarded bronze medals.
Although the leaders were desperate to get back to the hotel to celebrate, we managed to have aquick word with Sweden’s Filip Wilhelmsson, their top bowler with 1304 for his six games.
“It looked as though they were pretty low scores on the first squad, so we were confident that we could beat 2518,” said the tall Swede. “There was little difference with the carry over the six games but I did have many nine counts, so it was fair.
“It was consistent bowling for me as my high game was only 237. We are really pleased that the draw means that we don’t play against our team-mates until the final, hoping that we both win our semi-finals, so then it will be Sweden one-two.”
Swedish coach Peter Ljung added: “We couldn’t have done much more than this, but the biggest thing is that all four boys had a good block today and we made the right changes with the balls and lane movements. The first games in this morning’s squad could have been better, but after that it was pretty good.
“Maybe it would have been better for the international sport if the four places in the final had not been all Scandinavian, but we are very happy as long as Sweden is there.”
The boys and girls play-off are both scheduled to take place at 17.30 Tuesday evening.
Full results and information on: www.eyc2012.eu Keith Hale