Boccia: Bentley on form as Team GB beat Ireland

DUNMOW’S Dan Bentley played his part as the GB Boccia Team thrashed rivals Ireland in an exhibition match...


DUNMOW’S Dan Bentley played his part as the GB Boccia Team thrashed rivals Ireland in an exhibition to demonstrate the sport at the Paralympic World Cup.

With the Boccia World Cup coming to Belfast in August the game served as both an exhibition match to demonstrate the sport to a new audience, but more importantly crucial to their preparations.

Britain, the Beijing 2008 gold medallists, got off to a slow start but eventually overwhelmed Ireland 10-1 in Manchester.

“The key is to try and get the first ball onto the jack and then put the pressure on from there. We built up the pressure to try and get back into the driving seat and momentum back our way. It’s a good warm-up for us,” said GB captain Nigel Murray.

“It’s a good marker to get down. I felt we were in the driving seat in the first end but then they had a couple of lucky shots and it went their way. But we put that behind us and then we went on from there.

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“We train regularly together in a number of places, including the EIS in Sheffield or near where I live in Warwick. And that training is obviously paying off here.”

In the opening end GB – ranked number two in the world - looked comfortably in control before Ireland’s captain Gabriel Shelly used his last ball to edge in front and with only ten seconds left on the clock for Britain, Dan Bentley was unable to dislodge the red ball.

The 1-0 lead to Ireland would be the first and last point they would take however, for despite often dominating the opening plays they were unable to answer an British onslaught.

And the greatest damage to the scoreline came in the fourth end when Ireland had played their six balls and GB had four remaining. Murray showed why he is the individual number one player in the world with a shot that pushed the jack away from the head and into the path of two blue balls already on court.

Bentley then lobbed the head and made it three to GB before David Smith saw a vacant channel and sliced through it, twice, to give his team a strong finish to the end and ensuring they led 7-1.

Britain managed to extend their lead by one more point in the fifth and then followed a double substitution, seeing Bentley replaced by Zoe Robinson and Andrew Morgan on for Smith. With their new players in the game Britain finished the game with a Murray-Morgan combination, with the final two balls, which saw them triumph 10-1.