Europe maintains two-point lead over United States after 18 matches in Weber Cup



    2011WeberCupLogo.jpg The Europeans will take a two-point lead into the final day of the 12th annual Weber Cup as they once again shared both sessions on Saturday with the Americans. It was a poor show from Europe as they recorded four consecutive sub-200 games but were bailed out by Paul Moor in the show closer to lead 10-8.

    They had led 6-2 earlier in the day but a shocking run of scores in singles matches of 179, 191, 192 and 181 had seen them lose three out of four points but wins in the Baker, and singles wins for Dominic Barrett and Moor kept them ahead.

    Europe regained the Baker initiative and established a three point lead in the first match of the evening session. With every seat taken at the packed out Metrodome in Barnsley, it was an open frame in the fifth which allowed the Europeans to pull away and four more strikes plus two in the tenth frame put them over the line.

    America took the next in a low scoring affair as Chris Barnes beat Barrett, 212-179. The Englishman had around 40 friends and family in the audience, all wearing matching 'Domination' blue Euro shirts but they were soon quietened down as Barrett left two open frames in his first four attempts.

    Barnes, slipped up in the eighth as he too left one open but Barrett could not make the most of it as the American captain ran out a 33 pin winner.

    "We needed the point and I was pretty disappointed with letting the team down in the Baker match but it's now back to only two points difference," he said.

    Barrett, though, redeemed himself in the next as he took the win over struggling Mike Fagan, who posted the lowest score of the tournament so far, a 168.

    It was nevertheless an exciting encounter as Fagan started with two open frames but Barrett joined him in struggling. However, he produced one of the shots of the tournament to make a 2-4-10 split for a spare in the ninth frame and that helps him claim the point with a 191-168 success.

    Barnes turned a good night in to a great one as he got the better of Osku Palermaa, winning by 33 pins. Both players started with an open frame, a strike and two spares. Barnes then consulted with his team mates and came out firing strikes to take the match as Palermaa faltered.

    "We discussed some strategy with some of the other players and it worked out great," said Barnes.

    "It was about the fifth frame and we had a discussion and that got me the game. It's nice to have guys like that who can help you."

    Tommy Jones, who has a superb Weber Cup singles record, added another one to the win column as he pasted Mika Koivuniemi by 88 pins, the biggest winning margin of the event so far. The Big Finn never recovered from a horror start that saw on only 27 after three open frames at the start of the game.

    With the last match of the day gaining critical importance - if the Americans had won it they would have finished the day level after being four points behind at one stage - it was left to Paul Moor to bring home the bacon for Europe with an outstanding 247-213 win over Bill O'Neill.

    "Being the only leftie is probably an advantage and being able to play straight all the time is the best way I can play - if I do that then I can beat anyone," said a delighted Moor.

    "It was a good feeling to get that two-point cushion again. I really felt comfortable, threw some great shots and it paid dividends," he added.

    Standings after 18 matches: Europe leads USA, 10-8

    Europe 246 - 216 USA
    Dominic Barrett 179 - 212 Chris Barnes
    Dominic Barrett 191 - 168 Mike Fagan
    Osku Palermaa 192 - 225 Chris Barnes
    Mika Koivuniemi 181 - 269 Tommy Jones
    Paul Moor 247 - 213 Bill O'Neill


    Both teams shared the points over the six matches in the Saturday afternoon session. For the Americans, it was an improvement on their showing yesterday as the lane looked a little more conducive and the scoring started to increase.

    Trailing by two points, the Americans needed to repeat their Baker win of yesterday in the opening match of the Saturday afternoon session. However, it didn't pan out as planned as the four European players recorded a big total of 252, 57 pins clear of their rivals to increase their overall lead to three points.

    "No excuses, I made two terrible shots and momentum is a funny thing as I put us in a hole and Europe bowled a good game," said American captain Chris Barnes.

    "In our practice session it looked better for us but we didn't make many good shots and they had their feet on our throats," he added.

    That lead increased to four points in the next as Paul Moor and Dominic Barrett looked on for this year's first 300 game but left the 10 pin standing in the tenth frame and had to settle for a game-winning 289.

    Their opponents, Tommy Jones and Mike Fagan started out with five strikes themselves but faltered in the face of the English onslaught. Their final total of 265, though, was a tournament best for the USA.

    "We just wanted to take the game first and after that we thought about the 300 but getting the point on the board was the main thing," said Moor.

    Jones, though, made up for it in the third game of the afternoon as he delivered 11 strikes, interrupted by a 9 spare in the fifth frame. That was plenty to see off Moor who failed to break 200. It would have been Jones's fourth 300 game in the history of the tournament.

    "Momentum is a funny thing," repeated Chris Barnes as his team won their second consecutive game to reduce arrears to 6-4, as Europe hit the skids.

    220-178 was the score in favor of Barnes and Bill O'Neill as their Finnish opponents Osku Palermaa and Mike Koivuniemi were too loose as they recorded the worst score of the tournament to date.

    There was more USA joy in the penultimate match of the afternoon session as O'Neill got revenge for his defeat at the hands of Palermaa yesterday with a tidy 21 pin victory to get within one of the Europeans. An open frame by Palermaa in the seventh was the turning point.

    "I feel pretty good and that was what I needed for my confidence," said O'Neill.

    Europe though, regained the initiative in the final match after the game between Moor and Koivuniemi and Jones and O'Neill swung one way and then the next. But a terrible split from Jones in the ninth saw the U.S. pair leave their third open frame of the contest and that cost them. Europe took it 222-193 to regain their two-point lead.

    "We finished the game strongly but the lane was tough but it was an important game for us," said the big Finn.

    Featuring a potential total of 33 matches over the weekend, the first team to reach 17 points will lift the coveted trophy. Starting in 2000, the USA has won six Weber Cups and the Europeans five, following last year's 17-13 win at the Metrodome.


    Standings after 12 matches: Europe leads USA, 7-5

    Europe 252-195 USA
    Barrett/Moor 289-265 Fagan/Jones
    Paul Moor 199-279 Tommy Jones
    Palermaa/Koivuniemi 178-220 O'Neill/Barnes
    Osku Palermaa 224-245 Bill O'Neill
    Moor/Koivuniemi 222-193 Jones/O'Neil


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