An incredible comeback victory over legend in classic, by George!

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 November, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 November, 2000, 12:00am

When George Sneddon looked at the heavens and clasped his hands in giving thanks, he just knew he would emerge victorious - even against one of the legends of the game.

Playing the best bowls of the tournament, the 50-year-old Scot came back from 20-16 down to defeat the incomparable Peter Bellis 21-20 in one of the most dramatic wins at the KBGC Centenary Hong Kong Bowls Classic yesterday.

Bellis, who hails from New Zealand and was looking for his third Classic title following triumphs in 1983 and 1989, was heading for victory before Sneddon used every ounce of his reserves to come away with a thrilling victory at the Kowloon Bowling Green Club.

The semi-retired Sneddon, who won the gold medal in the pairs competition at this year's World Championships in Johannesburg, won the last end by an astounding four shots to snare one of his biggest titles.

'Unbelievable,' said Sneddon, the 1991 Scottish national singles champion when asked to comment on his thrilling victory worth $15,000.

'To beat one of the legends of the game is a great feeling. It was an honour playing him. Peter [Bellis] has been world champion before and has won so many championships before.

'I knew I had to dig into my reserves and hold on. The instincts were telling me to just hang on,' said Sneddon, who works for British Telecom in Edinburgh.

Bellis, 48, who helped New Zealand to victory in the triples competition at this year's World Championships, was playing in his first Classic in four years.

'It didn't work out in the end. George [Sneddon] played really well, especially on that last end. On the second last end, he pushed my ball through and ended up with three.

'You know when you're playing against a quality competitor such as George, you've got to get the last shots in and not make it easy for him. The game went his way in the end,' said Bellis.

The penultimate end marked the beginning of the end for Bellis. Sneddon's deliveries were brilliant and he was three shots in front before Bellis' desperate drive at the woods left him two shots behind and only 20-19 in front. Then came that amazing last end. By the time, Sneddon delivered his fourth and final wood, he was four shots up, leaving Bellis in a hopeless position.

Bellis' last delivery was good but not good enough as Sneddon won 21-20.

'I was runner-up in the Classic pairs twice and perhaps I can help turn that around,' said Bellis, who pocketed $10,000 in defeat.

Sneddon defeated Hong Kong's Noel Kennedy 21-11 in the quarter-finals after just edging out evergreen Hong Kong player Chi Chi Fernandes 21-20 in his third-round match on Saturday.

'That game against Chi Chi was something else,' said Sneddon.

The Scot then defeated Welshman David Harding 21-19 in the semi-finals.

Bellis also had a smooth passage into the final. He beat Malaysia's Adif Abdullah 21-8 before disposing of England's Ian Bond 21-16 in the semi-final.