Last weekend saw the quarter finals of the Men’s Championship Singles. Once again there looked to be great match ups: recent champions, up and comers, old favorites. Three past Champions and one past semifinalist. Three up and comers, could they win today and change that? The bookies had a view, statistics rule the odds, but was it going to be a punters day?
All games were played on our championship green No2, slight head wind going north, green running a clip over 14 but with a slightly dull finish. Game on!
Steven Goddard Vs John Cumming
This one was anticipated to be a strong match up, almost biblical. Steven “in Hymn we trust” Goddard and John “JC” Cumming, 2006 Champion, with the Wilsonator marking. The scoreboard was written up in a very curious way by the marker, using only the first four letters of the players surnames, I’m not kidding.
An even start with 2 all on the 4th, then a 4 count for JC. But Hymn came back strongly scoring 7-2 over the next five ends including a 4 on the 9th, 11-7 Steven. And single to JC then a 2 to Steven, JC wins the next three ends and its 13-11 Hymn. A single then a 3 to Steven, 17-11 Steven. We are on 17 ends, still early for a singles match but it is looking like a little dicey for “Chooky” so how do you counter? Steel yourself and bowl, chase you last delivery to the head as it converts (I saw that as I was about to bowl) and score a 3. 17-14 Steven.
Trading shots over the next 8 ends and its Steven 23-17. Six shots are ok at this stage, not too hard to reel in. JC goes on a run scoring 4 singles 23-21 Steven. 30 ends into a singles match and it is the business end of the game. What happens in a bowler’s mind after 3 hours of competition? Relax, focus, think of a beer? Not Hymn. He summoned an almighty five ends including two x 2 and a 3 to close out the game 31-21 on end 35. A close game until the plague of shots at the end. Well done Steven, into your first semi at the home of the Saints and commiserations John, a great effort.
Chris Carey Vs Rod Silber
Possibly the most highly anticipated match of the round, maybe the event. The current joint Dick Carey Bowlers of the Year 2019 pitted against each other in a drawing, converting feast! Well no, not today. This game was a rather scrappy affair by both players accounts.
Ridley got off to a flying start, CC could not find his line and dropped a 3, a 2 and a 1. 6-0 Rod. Then CC hits back with a single, short to the ditch and picks up a 2, picks up a 1, 6-4 Rod. Roddy goes out to 9-4 CC picks up a 4 on a medium to nothing length bags a single and it’s 9 all. This was shaping up to be a thriller, maybe not.
Rod did something to his quadricep on the 4th end, CC then did something to his lower back on the 11th both players were not at their best. Exchanges of 1’s then Rod bags two 2’s on ditch to ditch. 19-12 on the 20th. Roddy roles a medium to long end. Is down 2 then pulls the jack back to two bowls off the ditch with a little wick. CC draw the shot with 6” to spare. 19-13 Rod. Is a comeback on the cards?
Rod scores a 3 and a 1 and it’s 25-14. As we have reported before, the player behind starts to tense up, arms feel like lead and the head is thinking of the bar. No, focus you can do it! Rod draw three good bowls and CC is wayward with his grass. “Jimmy” Rod calls. No answer. “Jimmy” Rod calls. No answer. Rod to CC “is he asleep”, Jimmy “do you have a question Rod?” Rod “Yes” Jimmy “well why don’t you ask it” Rod “what’s the position”, Jimmy “holding 3”. On his last bowl CC chases the bowl down and draws the shot only for it to fall backwards, 2 to Rod. 27-14. Rod bowls well ditch to ditch and closes the game out 31-18. Well done Rod, too good on the day.
Fred Alexander Vs Greg Smith
The bookies liked this one. A relatively new bowler up against the most prolific singles winner in St Ives history, should be close as Greg is a very improved bowler but 14 Championships? Fred “the Fox” Alexander against Greg “the Tiger” Smith, both predators but of a slightly different nature. And so, the game unfolded.
The Tiger is away, 3 and a 1, 4-0 Tiger. The Fox returns serve with a 1 and a 2, 4-3 Tiger. This one was at the other end of the green so I didn’t see much until I had capitulated and could watch with a comforting schooner. The dance continued with great conversions and great draw bowls. The 16th end saw it 14-13 Greg. A couple of 2’s and it’s 18-14 Tiger, could this be an upset? The Fox had other ideas and piled on a single and a 3, 18 all on 21st. Fred bags a 3 on the 25th and it’s 22-20 the Fox, he’s hit the front. But the Tiger is all concentration and score 3x2 to a 1, 26-23 Tiger. Fred is holding and runs at the head to make a multiple but just misses. 26-24 Greg.
A less experienced bowler usually feel the “heat”. Fred draw a resting toucher, Greg tries to draw him off. It’s not working. Fred covers. The Tiger with his last bowl runs at the head and kills the end with a menacing draw. What heat? Greg scores a 4 next end and draws a single to finish the game on end 32. 31-24 Greg. A fantastic effort from Greg to overcome Fred. I can tell you, I have watched a lot of bowls and played Fred many times, he did not bowl badly. He bowled very well and would have beaten most players in the club that day, but Greg had all the answers and all the shots this day. Congratulations Greg, well played, commiseration Fred, well played.
David Gill Vs Tim Walton
Well this was a nice match up, Gilly, a semi-finalist in 2013 and Tim “the tool man” Walton, always up there and a great draw bowler. A very even contest at 9 all after 14 ends. No big score yet. Tim bags a few 2’s and a single to be 14-10 after 18, a long way to go yet. Gilly wins the next 5 ends with precision drawing, 16-14 Gilly. Both bowlers are on song, the heads are so tight and there is a meter between all eight bowls.
Gilly scores a 3 on the 26th end and it’s 20-15 Gilly. This is where it’s make or break. You have a lead, consolidate and get to within 4 shots of game without dropping too many shots. Keep a five shot lead over the next 6 ends. And Gilly does just this. Tim scores 2, Gilly scores 3, 23-17 Gilly. Tim scores 1, 23-18 Gilly. Gilly holding 3 with two touchers and Tim runs the jack into the ditch with his last bowl, great shot. Gilly goes to the head, seeing two touchers he runs at one with controlled weight, puts it in the ditch on the jack. 1 to Gilly, 24-18. Nerves of steel and no emotion, that’s good bowling. They say bowls is 20% physical and 80% mental, Gilly was 95% metal and 40% physical. David went on to score 5 shots in the next 3 ends, Tim came back with a 2, but David closed it out 31-20 on the 38th end. A great game with super skills shown by both bowlers. Well done Gilly and commiserations Tim.
Next week it’s the semis Steven Goddard vs Greg Smith and Roddy Silber vs David Gill. Both will be crackers and I will have the privilege of marking one. Grab a beer and watch or make sure you are playing social bowls as this will be an afternoon to remember. 2020 could see a new Champion (75% chance). Good luck to all. Bowls will be the winner.
Report by Chris Carey