2021 Men’s Pairs Championship Final 6th November 2021 - Rod Silber & Chris Carey Vs Jim Barclay & Pete Shlager
After an extended COVID lockdown we have been back playing bowls for several weeks now and enjoying a schooner of Reschs post-game. Not wasting any time, the Men’s Pairs commenced first week back. The rounds played out fairly much to script with some tight quarter finals and semi finals. Well done to Graeme Manning & John Cumming and Michael Macourt & Peter Larcombe for making the semis, good result to get to the semi’s in a strong field, and commiserations missing out on final.
The final was the match up everyone wanted to see; reigning Champions “Rowdy” Roddy Silber and Chris “Scarey” Carey against Jimmy “the Flying Scotsman” Barclay and “Pistol “Pete Shlager. All four players had been in fine form leading up to the final with Pistol in the final of the club’s blue riband event, the Men’s Championship Singles, unfortunately delayed due to anti-vaxing protests which has now been solved. Four of the mighty Saints best players in 21 ends of sudden death play, well that’s what we thought.
On arriving at the club bets were already being laid but on who? (Wilson). Too close for your scribe to call. The Saints Championship No2 green, having been in for two weeks from a renovation, was running a respectable clip under 14 seconds. Given the rain during the week, our greenkeeper Ben had done a fantastic job (6 rolls I heard). A gentle nor easter meant each hand was slightly different in turn and speed, faster towards the Village Green. Game on!
The game started with Jimmy winning the toss and taking the mat, a confident decision, rolling a short 24 metre length a metre off the tee. The first end was tight with lots of bowls in the head. Pistol holding 1 only for CC to convert for a 2. Roddy rolls a ditch to ditch (seen that before) and we are away again. Good draw bowling, a few conversions and Pete converts to a 2 with his last bowl to the sounds of the Flying Scotsman “Boooom!”. 2-2.
Jimmy rolls short again, 23 metres, and draws one behind the jack. Roddy surrounds on the left side narrowly missing the jack. Pete and Chris draw in and it’s still 1 to Pistol. CC with his last bowl attempts a conversion to the left for a 3 and bounces the jack right giving up a two. 4-2 Pistol. The boys are off and roll another 3 short ends picking up 2, 2 and 1 again Pete is converting, and Jimmy takes the jack in the ditch for a 1. 7-2 after 5 ends.
The Champs are feeling it; a tightness in the muscles, a little extra pressure on the draw, dropping a little short or running through to overcompensate. Bowls is a mental game as much as a physical one and when your opponents are “on song” it plays with your head. “Lots of ends to go” says Rowdy Roddy.
Jimmy again rolls short to the tee and 24 metres. Jimmy puts two close with Rod sliding past. Pete adds another two with CC dropping short and missing wide on the back hand. Another bowl in the head and Pistol is holding a clear 4, maybe 5 on a measure. With his last bowl CC plays positive but a little wide, gets the edge of his own bowl and crosses in for shot off the wick. A good result, not necessarily a good bowl but that is why bowls is not an Olympic sport. 7-3 team Pistol end 6.
Bowls is all about momentum. When it shifts it can sometimes be seismic. Whether it is losing control of the length or a big count mid game, things can get turned on their heads and this is what we were in for.
Roddy rolls his customary ditch to ditch length and places one behind the jack Pete plays the backhand and picks the jack up and moves it to the right. Jimmy and Pete draw in and Rod runs long. CC cuts the head and Pete is holding 5. With his last bowls CC calmly draw in picks the jack up and moves it to Rod’s bowl. Pete has a run and misses. The Umpire is called and Geoff gives it to Team CC, 7-4 Team Pistol. Team Scarey win the next two as singles on ditch to ditch, 7-5 Pistol end 8.
Another long end and Rod draws two beautiful bowls just behind the jack as Jimmy drops short. Pete tries to pick Rod off and slides past. CC covers the left side with two bowls. Rod drops short and Jimmy unfortunately knocks him up and team CC holding 3. Pistol has two runs and narrowly cuts the head, 3 team CC and they hit the front 8-7 on end 9. Still any one’s game.
We talked about one big end, well the tenth was it. Full length again, Jimmy holding 2 and Roddy pulls the jack back to hold 1. CC draws 2 more. Roddy draws another, CC another and Pete is down 5 with two to play. He plays a backhand firm shot but stays wide. CC draws another and blocks the backhand. Pete runs on the forehand and misses. 6 count, 14-7 to CC.
Great draw bowls from Rod see Team CC win the next two (2, 3) and it’s 19-7 on 12 ends. Not over yet with 9 ends to go. Rod again draws 2 and Pete with his first puts the jack in the ditch and sits on it, unbeatable shot. 1 to Team Pistol 19-8. Team Pistol win the next end with great draw bowling on a short length for a 2. 19-10 Team CC after 14 ends.
The 15th end was an end that could have changed the game. Rod holding 1 and Jimmy and Pete looking for the jack to the right side to make a big count CC drawing to try and get another bowl in the head or get in the way. Pete narrowly misses the jack.If he got it the count would have been seven. Rod measures and it’s 3 shots to Team CC (that’s bowls). 22-10 Team CC.
Team Pistol takes the next two ends with singles and are still in the game, “we just need a big count”. On the 18th end it was on again. A short end, 23 metres, 1 metre short of the tee. Jimmy and Pete draw in nicely. Holding 5. Rod cuts it down to 4. CC has lost his draw and is dropping short and cutting the head. Pete draws another just in front of the jack next to Jimmy’s shot bowl. Rod “Just draw on the backhand to cut it down mate”. CC “nope I see it on the forehand”. CC plays a firm swinger on the forehand and splits the two front bowls and pulls up for shot. He can’t believe it, Roddy “you called it mate”. 23-12 Team CC.
Three more ends and they shake hands with Rodd and Chris running out winners 25-13. Commiserations Jimmy and Pete, you played well, and bowls sometimes is a cruel master.
Rod and Chris, this is your second Pairs Championship consecutively and forth final in 5 years, congratulations.
This week we have the start of the Men’s Championship Triples with some great games in the draw. Unfortunately, Paul the Octopus has been at it again via Zoom and we have some strong match ups in round one. I can’t wait. Please ask Uncle Joe to stop the rain dance!