Rinkside Ramblings - reporting by Scarey Carey
Men’s Singles Championship – Quarter Finals
The much-anticipated quarter finals round were played last weekend in brilliant sunshine, a strong head wind running north to south and the Saints No2 Championship couch green running a clip shy of 14 seconds. Great job by our green keepers after some heavy rain during the week. Game on!
Jim Barclay Vs Joe Shofer
With Jimmy in such scintillating form, the bookies had him at 1-1 but everyone’s Uncle Joe had other ideas, that was until the game commenced. Jimmy started strong winning the first 3 ends with singles but Joe hit back with a 2, 3-2 Jimmy after 4 ends. Jimmy then turned on the afterburners and won the next 6 ends including 4x3 shot hauls. 17-2 Jimmy after 10 ends. At this stage the player on the other end of a streak like that is looking for the light at the end of the tunnel but discovers it’s a freight train. Boom! The Uncle managed a shot here and there, but Jimmy was in unbeatable form closing out the game on the 26 end 31-10. Commiserations Joe, quarters again is a good effort, well doone to the flying Scotsman.
Wilson Cheng Vs Ian Finlay
The “Wilsonator” came into this game in hot form but so did Ian after a strong Pennant season and as runner up in the club handicap singles. Bookies had Wilson at 2:1 on and Ian at 4:1. The Wilsonator started strong jumping out to a 11-2 lead after 8 ends. The Finster began to pull this back with singles, on many occasions drawing with his last bowl to save a 3 count. Then on the 12 Wilson bags a 4, 15-5. We have said this before, if you drop a big count you must hit back fast or risk the momentum shifting to you opponent. Ian did so countering with a 3. Wilson kept getting singles and race out to 20-10 by the 20th end. Shots were traded over the 7 ends seeing Wilson lead 25-15 on the 27th end.
Funny things happen when you are trying to close out a game. The mind says “OK, I just need 6 shots, I’m drawing well, piece of cake.” We have seen this before, a loss of concentration can let you opponent in and this is what we witnessed. The Finster hits back wining the next 5 ends, again drawing with his last bowl to clos in, 25-20 Wilson. What’s happening, an upset on the cards? Not yet. Wilson picks up a single and a 2, 28-20 Wilson. Then a potentially fatal error, a bit of a scrappy end and it looks like a measure for shot, Ian with one bowl left goes to the head. Wilson has one bowl in the head, Ian’s 4 all 45cm from the jack except the potential shot bowl at about 30cm. He studies the head intently and declares the head. Players measure, it’s close. “Umpire!!!”, measure lost to Wilson. What could Ian have done with his last bowl had he played it? We will never know but the crowd on the bowler’s terrace whispered, “there was a chance of a 4”. 29-20 Wilson. Ian valiantly wins the next two ends and Wilson one end, 30-22 Wilson. Ian picks up a 3 and a single, 30-26 Wilson. Finally, Wilson closes the match out with a single 31-26. Well played Ian, you were drawing beautifully. Congratulations Wilson.
Michael Macourt Vs Peter Shlager
This was always going to be a surprise match. On paper, “Pistol” Pete Shlager should win comfortably. His drawing form has been outstanding in Pennants. Michael “Eminem” Macourt has played 5’s, 4’s and grade 3 in Pennants and was your scribes 2nd in the 3’s and was one of our best players. But we don’t play on paper, unless you’re an artist or a cruciverbalist. Did Michael manage to slip something from the pharmacy into Pete drink bottle? We will see.
Pistol shoots out to a strong lead and was 10-1 up by the 8th. M&M hits back with a 2 but Pete keeps the pressure on 16-6 on the 16th. Michael finds some form and a little run of a 3,2,1,1. 16-13 Pistol. The players trade shots until Pete gets a flurry of 2’s and so does Michael to find himself behind by only 4 shots 25-21 Pete. Then, what would end up being the hammer blow, Pete scores a 3, 28-21. Eminem is not going away and scores a single then a 3, 29-25 Pete, could the dream become reality? The bookies in the club house were trying to leave but were restrained. 2 to Pistol and it’s all over. What a battle, 41 ends is a close and long singles game. Well played Michael and commiserations, you bowled brilliantly and made a real game of it. Congratulations Pete well played.
Steven Goddard Vs Chris Carey
Well this was marked as the game of the round, a leads lead Steven “Hymn” Goddard vs a 2 times Champion Chris “Scarey” Carey. Steven wins the toss and rolls a medium length and CC starts well with a 3. CC rolls short to the ditch and Steven hits back with a 2, CC had a chance to drive the jack in the ditch for a 3 but elected to draw and missed. Hymn is winning more ends and moves to a 11-6 lead by the 10th. CC is going ditch to ditch with some success and it’s 13-10 to Steven on the 15th. Hymn then goes on a great run of ends winning 6 of the next 8 ends including a 3 to lead 21-13 after 23 ends. On one end, Steven is down 4 and with his last bowl drew through all the short bowls for a resting toucher, how he got through there I don’t know. That is great bowls under pressure. 20-11 Steven.
Scarey wins the next end drawing close early on a medium to nothing length. He takes the mat up short but then moves it to the end of the line, about a 23-24 metre length. Sometimes a subtle change can prove decisive, CC wins the next 3 ends with singles, 21-16 Hymn 26 ends. Steven pulls a shot back and rolls from the T to a medium length. CC take a 2, then back to the 23 meter length and picks up two 2’s. Next end CC is holding 3 good shots within 10cm of the jack and one short bowl. Steven has been running past the head, with his last bowl he cuts his grass and hits up CC short bowl to drop a 4. 24-22 CC, a big turnaround and some good pressure bowls from CC. Steven is visibly annoyed at himself and heads to the water cooler, takes his time. In a situation like this, going from 9 up to 2 down on the board you either let it break or make you.
CC rolls another shortish end, lands his first bowl 10cm in front of the Jack. Steven is long with his next 3 bowls and CC is holding 4 having covered both sides about 15 cm behind the Jack. Drop a 4 here and CC would have been 3 shots from victory. Instead, with steely determination and confidence Steven draws around the shot bowl, grabs the jack and scores a 1, 24-23 CC. Steven wins the next 3 ends and it’s 27-24 Steven, he’s back in the game. Another medium length and CC draws his first behind the jack. Steven has two bowls 60-80 cm behind the jack. With his second CC is a little tight and hits the jack springing it away from the shot bowl. Steven plays the bowl of the day and trails the jack for 3, hiding it behind his bowls. With CC’s previous shot bowl now short and right in front of the pack he elects to play a through the head draw and misses. Steven calmly draws a 4th shot and is holding game. CC again tries to draw and misses wide. Game over 31-24 to Steven.
Should CC have had a run at the head with two bowls left, probably and in hindsight absolutely. But we don’t play any sport in hindsight, we can only learn from it. If I had my time over I would have had two blistering drives at the head but that is what pressure does and Steven certainly applied plenty of pressure during the game.
Congratulations Steven well played and well strategised. You showed real mental strength to come back and drew beautifully all day. If you are in trouble in the semi think of the two 4’s you saved and the last end, remember those your whole bowling career and they will give you confidence to play any shot. Good luck in the semi-final. When I asked Hymn after the game what he did at the water cooler he said “sing, it calms me down”. “Was it a gospel number?” I asked. “No” he replied and burst into song. He has a great voice, but I know not what the song was. Strange game bowls.
On to the semi's
So, onto the Semi Finals this weekend. Two cracking games one of which your humble scribe will be marking, possibly with a beer on the bank.
Semi No1 Jimmy “the flying Scotsman” Vs “Pistol” Pete Shlager
No one can pick this one both are in great form. Lets’ hope their marker is half decent.
Semi No2 Wilson “The Wilsonator” Cheng Vs Steven “Hymn” Goddard.
Again, this will be a close one so if you want to see some Champagne bowls come down to the home of the mighty Saints on Saturday, its’ going to be a cracker of an afternoon!