Birmingham Commonwealth Games: Heartbreak for Kiwi bowlers in last-ditch semi-final defeat

In her fifth Commonwealth Games, veteran bowler Val Smith was fallen agonisingly short of the gold-medal match in women's fours at Birmingham, unable to rescue her quartet from defeat to India in the semi-finals.

With singles silver and fours bronze at previous Games, Smith, 57, was aiming to complete her medal set and seemed on track, as her team passed unbeaten through pool play and the quarter-finals against Botswana.

She, Tayla Bruce, Selina Goddard and Nicole Toomey raced out to a 5-0 lead after two ends, lost momentum, as the Indians rattled off six straight shots to snatch the lead after eight.

India have never won a Games medal in bowls, but took three shots in the 10th end to seize the initiative, but the Kiwis responded in kind to level the score at 10-10 with four ends remaining. 

On the penultimate end, they took a shot that gave them the lead into the last, but fell three down with only three bowls left. Bruce knocked the Indian bowl away to grab the advantage, but Indian skip Rupa Rani Tirkey produced a fine shot to take four and a 16-13 victory.

The NZ women will now face Fiji for bronze, after the Pacific Islanders lost their semi to South Africa in similar fashion, leading 14-13 into the final end, but dropping three shots, as victory was snatched from them.

Graham Skellern in action at Birmingham
Graham Skellern in action at Birmingham. Photo credit: Getty

Meanwhile, the para men's pair of Graham Skellern and Mark Noble also fell shot of the gold-medal match, losing 18-10 to Scotland, despite leading after nine ends.

The Scots had already defeated their rivals 25-5 in pool play and the Kiwis will now face England for the bronze.