England Girls Top Seeds, Sweden the Boys
We now segue into the second and final three-game block with the girls' teams completing their stint first this morning. The boys settle on the lanes this afternoon.
This is the time that the going gets tough and the tough get going.
As current leaders, the spotlight shines on the Swedish quartet as action commences with the fourth of the six games that will result in the top four teams qualifying for this evenings semi-finals and final.
Sweden, England, Denmark and Finland are the four teams currently in those four places but these are just spring chicken of the bowling world and maybe the pressure will be too much for some, that remains to be seen.
The English were in fiery mood for such an early hour and shot 823 for the opener, whilst the Swedes had a lacklustre 763, so the English are now only eleven pins behind the leaders, 3125-3114.
Denmark, trying hard, still retain third place after 784/3033 and the Finns remain fourth 759/2997.
The Russians are standing on the step and knocking on the door, asking for admittance into the Top 4 Club, just 20 pins aback of the Finns on 2977.
As at times yesterday, to look for the high individual score each game your eyes have to wander down to the Combined section where players not assigned to teams are put together. This fourth game honor belongs to Daria Kavalova of Ukraine with a 230.
Russia's plea to be admitted to the top four was accepted as they now have a five-game score of 3700 even and take over fourth position from Finland. The Finns dropped to fifth with a low game of 688 to let the Russians in and thanks to their Marie Bulanova who hit 221 they now lead the Finns by 15 pins.
A truly fantastic 871 game from the Danes for a 3904 total, we think the highest girls' team game so far, puts them in pole position, overtaking Sweden and England.
Now England are number two with 3896 and the Swedes have dropped to third on 3851. Quite a shuffle.
A 268 tops the individual scores in game five and that comes from the dainty hands of Turkey's Ayse Akar.
With intense encouragement, at times almost lifting the rafters of the pristine Lovvang Bowl here in Aalborg, the pressure was really beginning to tell for the tournament leaders as they progressed through the final game.
Fouls, missed spares and plenty of missed single pins showed how much of a load they were all carrying and as England were now playing Denmark and Sweden were against Finland on the final lap the pressure was all the more telling.
Going into the last five frames of the final game, it was Denmark still leading with 4300. England dropped to third (4265) as Sweden came back with 4289 and the Finns regained fourth place on 4089, the Russians dropping back to 4018. So the fight is really on for fourth place and barring disasters in the home straight the other three teams should be safe for the play-offs.
Come the tenth frame and it was really neck-and-neck between England and Denmark for the honor of being in pole position, although both had definitely qualified for the play-offs. The final balls of the tenth frame decreed that the English should have that honor and they totaled 4647 to beat the Danish quartet by 12 pins.
Sweden came to the post in third place with 4614 and Finland held off the Russians for fourth, 4455.
"I am so proud of my girls," said Mrs Pat White, chair of the British Tenpin Bowling Association. "To win the gold medals in the doubles and now qualify as top seeds for the play-offs is incredible."
The line-ups for the semi-finals this evening will be England versus Finland and Denmark against Sweden. There are bronze medals for both losers in the semi-finals.
As aforementioned, to look for the best individual scores it is best to go down the results sheet to the Combined section. And there, for game six there is a brilliant 297 from Ukraine's Daria Kovalova, perhaps nervously just getting a seven-count with the final ball.
BOYS TEAM - BLOCK 2
Sweden (2518), Denmark (2382), Russia (2376) and Finland (2361) sit in those prestigious first four places of the tournament after the first three-game block, with Norway on the cusp with 2323.
The top four after the following three games will advance to this evening's semi-finals and the winners thereafter through to the final, all one-game matches.
The high boys' game as we stand is 277 from Norway's Mathias Reinertsen.
Sweden carried on their merry way with Emil Nilsson leading off with a 258 and the team putting together a 920, which is only 14 pins short of the all-time record, set by Russia way back in 2009.
Quite a juxtaposition of team standings as now although Sweden retain pole with 3507, the Netherlands move up into second place on 3272, Greece come into third, shooting 3272 and Finland remain fourth with 3233.
The city of Aalborg is officially closed today, the day before Good Friday is a holiday in these parts, but the action gets hotter and hotter in Norresundby's Lovvang Bowl and the Swede's are scorching the lanes, on course to beat the championship record of 5175 for six team games, set by The Netherlands in Munich, Germany last year.
The Swedes need to average 863 for each game to attain that feat and after four of the six games have an average of 876.
Game five gleaned them 852 for a 4359 total, first place as is their accustomed position and status quo for the others as The Netherlands take second spot with 4099 and Greece third, 4010. Finland trail fourth once more on 3995 and they could have a fight on their hands with Denmark just 20 points back, itching to get into the top four places from the final game.
Top individual score in game five came from Filip Wilhelmsson of Sweden with 257.
The focus on game five went on the the Finland and Denmark matches as it became pin for pin after four frames then the Danes forged ahead by 27 pins. Finland brought the scores back to around level pegging by the sixth frame and then the Danes opened up a small gap. Going into the tenth frame it looked to be going Denmark's way as the score sheet showed them with 4670 to Finland's 4607, but the Finns had two players working on doubles and the Danes with only two having strikes to work with.
The confrontation ended in Denmark's favor, ousting the Finns from the top four qualifying places, 4772 - 4729.
The spotlight went back to the Swedes. They needed 817 in the last game to beat the Championship six-game record of 5175 and 848 to beat the three-game record of 2620.
In their tenth frame, desperately seeking 817, Wilhelmsson posted 207, Andersson 187, so off the pace, then Svensson's 199 leaving Nilsson to a target of 224. Working on four strikes, Nilsson hit a 9-spare and strike for 216, so the target of 5175 still stands, but the Swedes lead the standings with 5168.
So tonight's play-offs will be Sweden as number one seed with 5168; The Netherlands second, 4821; Greece third, 4782 and Denmark fourth 4772.
The semi-final matches will be Sweden versus Denmark and The Netherlands against Greece. The semi-final losers will both be awarded bronze medals.
The boys' top individual All Events scores over the 12 games, six each in Doubles and Team, show Filip Wilhelmsson of Sweden with 2696 (224 average) and team-mate Emil Nilsson second with 2611. Third place is currently held by Denmark's Markus Bergendorff on 2594.
Sweden versus Denmark for the boys and Sweden versus Denmark for the girls.
The other matches were Dutch boys playing Greece and the girls had England against Finland.
The first team to clinch a place in the finals was the Danish girls, beating neighbors Sweden by the handsome margin of 56 pins, 790 - 734.
The Danes will face Finland for the gold medal, the Finns having defeated top seeded England, 845 - 780.
The boys were a little later finishing their semi-final but it all ended up with Denmark beating Sweden 816 - 758, and the Netherlands taking out Greece in a match of a closer kind, 823 - 810.
Therefore, to the great pleasure of the population, Denmark face opponents in both finals and have chances of two gold medals, the boys playing Denmark versus The Netherlands.
So there will be dancing in the streets of Aalborg tonight if two golds are won.
England and Sweden will be presented with bronze medals in the girls' division, Greece and Sweden in the boys'.
Both the boys' and girls' finals ran at the same time, the boys of lanes 5/6, the girls over on 13/14.
Denmark, shooting for double gold, fell foul of the Dutch as their boys established a healthy lead to take the pressure off, but in the girls' final it was far too close to call by the time the sixth frame had ended.
In the eighth frame both teams had two girls with open frames and the Finns had just a nine point advantage.
For the men. the Dutch were enjoying just under a 100 point lead at this juncture.
So it was just a coast home for the flying Dutchmen, outpointing their Danish opponents, xxx - 764, to take the gold medal and leave the Danes with silver. The Dutch had only four 'open' frames in their final, including one split, with two single pin misses, and that talent showed in their great total. The Danes had eight opens.
Dutch anchorman Jeroen van Geel rounded things off nicely with a personal 262.
It was down to a four pin advantage to Finland come the ninth frame of the girls' final and the tenth was truly a nail-biter. 170 from the Danish lead, 172 from the Finn. 182-143 from the seconds. 151-172 from the third players. The Danes finished with 662, leaving the Finnish anchor needing just five pins to seal the gold for her country after hitting a strike with her first ball. She made it a double and 9 for 200 and the gold is theirs, but it came with just a 687-662 victory. A real squeaker.
Team gold medalists.
A quick comment from Finland's girls' team coach, Piritta Maja brought forth the comment: "I was very confident when I saw how the pair of lanes was for the final. They were difficult and very different than the lanes where we played the semi-final. But I knew we had girls with a lot of routine so even on tough conditions I knew that they could shoot their spares. And it was the spares that really mattered tonight. We like playing when the matches are tight, we are used to playing like that back home in Finland, so we have experienced team players."
Dutch coach Nico Thienpondt said of the big win in the boys' final: "It is never easy. We started well and the Danes started badly, but the game is never over until the last ball, so we stayed sharp until the end. This is bowling, you can be top seed and then lose your match. We did well today, especially the first games on the oil, so I am very satisfied with our boys."
Tomorrow (Friday) sees the two squads of Boys' Singles, the girls have the day off.