Illustrious field provide a thrilling second edition of the Risbygate Masters

TOP DAY: Matthew Smith (bowling) was one of two home amateur players, alongside Marcus Fuller, who qualified for this year's Risbygate Masters

A star-studded field of bowlers gathered at Risbygate Sports Club on Sunday for what proved to be a hugely dramatic second running of the Risbygate Masters.

Five of the 15 matches were decided 2-1 in the tie-break set, while the final itself providing a grandstand finish to the day as the tournament’s winner, Spalding’s Mathew Orrey, pulled off an unlikely-looking victory with a superb shot on the last ball .

It left Norfolk’s Wayne Willgress as a disappointed runner-up, having thought he had secured the title.

Orrey had saved a match lie on end two of the tie-break with a brilliant draw and Willgress was a millimetre away with his final effort.

On the third and last end, one bowl remained and Willgress had a perfect position.

Orrey attempted a draw and his line was slightly narrow, but the bowl glided off a front bowl and displaced the toucher of Willgress without movement of the jack to the amazement of those watching on at the Bury St Edmunds club.

In the semi-final, Orrey drew relentlessly against Andrew Walters from Worcestershire.

Walters responded with thunderous drives that restricted the shot count but did not save the game, although each drive caused a buzz in the audience.

Home bowler Mark Royal had misfortune against Willgress in the other semi-final.

Uncertain if he would win a measure for the match, he drew a toucher only to fall away and still lose on a measure.

Greg Harlow from Ely, the number one ranked player on the World Bowls Tour, lost to Walters.

Other participants included John Price and Jason Greenslade from Wales, who fell to Willgress and Royal respectively.

Also deserving of mention is Scott Edwards who out-scored Orrey, but was unable to win their tie-break.

Risbygate Sports Club Club’s general manager, Pat Lewis, said of the event, sponsored by local companies: “It was a tremendous day of quality bowling and quality competition and was better than last year.”

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