The Men’s Championship Singles for 2020 have begun. Due to COVID-19 flight restrictions, Paul the Octopus, who famously picked most of the winners in the 2008 World Cup Football (soccer to us Aussies) was unable to perform this year’s draw for the club as he could not fly out of Germany, so it was left to the match committee. This meant we have two very even sides of the draw, both with past winners, current grade 3 and 4 players and some mouth-watering potential match ups. What was very pleasing was to see 39 entries this year and all our new members, “the Michaels and Alan” entering. The best way to improve your bowls is to enter all club Championships plus it’s great fun.
Rounds 1 and 2 saw no surprises and mostly comfortable wins for the more favoured players, the bookies did well. Round 3 would be a little different and a lot closer score lines.
Round 3 was held last weekend and there were some thrilling matches. Games were played on No1 our new Tiff, very true and a clip over 14 seconds, and of course our Championship cooch green No2, running on or about 15 seconds. Slight head wind running south.
MARK ROSENBERG v GREG SMITH
First up on the cooch we saw Mark Rosenberg against Greg “the Tiger” Smith. St Ives welcomed Mark to our club this year after a long time away from bowls, a young family will do that. Mark is no beginner having won many titles at Linfield when it was in its heyday and skipping the Grade 1 and 2 Pennant teams there. He is not only a great bowling addition to our club but a great clubman too. Greg was another welcome addition to our club 2 years ago as a new bowler and has been improving quickly. Who do you back?
What a game, a 41 end cracker that was last to finish on the day. Close all the way with great draw bowls and equally good on shots and a blistering drive from Mark to covert. By the 29th end it was 19-18 to Mark. Then Mark broke away with a 3 and another 3, 25-18. Keeping his cool, the Tiger grabbed a 4 and a 1, 25-23 Mark. A 2 to Mark then Greg hits back with a 3, 27-26 Mark. As you know in bowls, when an opponent gets to within 4 shots of victory you can start to feel a little tightness in the body.
The next 6 ends were terrific, Mark takes a 1 to be 28-26. Greg then wins the next three ends to hit the front for the first time in the match on end 39 with a two to make it 30-28 the way of the Tiger. Mark wasn’t finished though taking a 1 on the 40th 30-29 Greg. The bowler’s terrace was packed, and a few schooners being consumed as Greg drew the winning shot on the 41st end. A great game well played both and congratulations to Greg. Mark no doubt we will see you progress further next year.
JOHN CUMMING V GEORGE ROSETTENSTEIN
Also on the cooch John Cumming (2006 Champion) vs George Rosettenstein (many Championships at Lindfield), a match up of two very experienced players. JC got out to a good start adjusting to the speed quickly and pulled away to an 8-1 lead. Georgie slowly clawed him back but John kept scoring singles to lead 16-8 on the 17th end. George had a resurgence and scored 9 shots over the next 4 ends to lead 17-16. The lead ebbed and flowed from here on with it all square on 31st end at 23 all. Chooky then scored two singles and a 3, 27-23 JC. George came back with a 2 and John a single and a 2, 30-25 JC. A single to George but then John finished the game with a 2, 31-26 JC on the 38th end. A close game and a long one, showing the quality of the bowls. Well done John and commiserations George.
Up on No1 there were some more cracking matches.
In what some said was the match of the round, “Fearless” Fred Alexander was against Wilson “the Wilsonator” Cheng. Fred, as we know, is prolific at winning singles titles having won multiple titles in every decade since the 1980’s at St Ives but will he win again in this new decade? Wilson, our 2018 Champion, has been in scintillating form on the back of Zone honours in the State Interzone Championships this year. This was a match up we wanted to witness.
FRED ALEXANDER V WILSON CHENG
Fred jumped out of the blocks and got away to a 10-1 lead by the 6th end. Wilson then got the pace and scored 10 shots over the next 5 ends to make it 11 all on the 11th. The Wilsonator kept this going for the next 6 ends with precision drawing and strong conversions to lead 18-13 on the 17th end. Fred has been here before, more times than I have played bowls probably, and kept himself in the game with superb drawing and some multiples until it was 22-21 to Wilson on the 25th end.
Wilson then flicked the switch and scored a 2 and a 3, 27-21 Wilson. As said before, reaching 27 normally lifts you to close out the match and your opponent can feel a tightness come over his being. You drop short, you play through, you miss your line, pressure does strange things as we will see in another match later. What pressure Fred? Fred found another gear and in six ends piled in the bowls and piled on the pressure, not dropping a shot. Wilson tried to convert. Missing by millimetres or getting a wrong slide or wrong bowl, that’s why bowls is not an Olympic sport. However, Fred was in great form and scored 10 shots in those 6 ends to take the match on the 33rd end 31-27. This was a high standard game between two of our best bowlers, congratulations Fred and great effort Wilson.
JOE SHOFER V STEVEN GODDARD
Our next match was an intriguing one, the fox and perennial crowd favourite Uncle Joe Shofer, proud winner of two No1 State Pennant flags, and Steven “he who is with you” Goddard, the ever-improving top grade lead. Do leads make the best singles players? Many believe so but how do they handle pressure and conversions? We’ll see in a game of 3 distinct 3rds.
Another game with a fast start, Steven out to 10-0 after 6 ends playing long ends, dropping 4 shots in the next 11 ends but picking up 11, 21-4 to SG. Uncle gets a 2! But so does Steven, 23-6 SG. At this stage of the game the leader knows 8 shots and I’m home. Ones won’t kill me, focus, control/minimise any losses and make the big scores when on offer. The player behind is looking for the number of the truck that hit him and wondering why he plays this game. But the Uncle has danced this waltz before. A mistake on the jack roll and the bear has been poked. Joe changes the length and he’s away. Suddenly the clock has been rolled back to the eighties and those State titles. 15 shots in 9 ends, an amazing comeback is on. Everyone’s Uncle is drawing and converting at will. The old bull is walking down the hill whilst the young bull is avoiding the cattle. The 26th end see Uncle bag a 2 and it’s 24-21 Steve. As said earlier, tension can break your rhythm, your arms feel weird and your weight transfer is off, where is my line? How did he covert that? This doesn’t happen when I lead. But Steven has matured as a bowler and showed us what he is capable of. SG wins a 1 on the 27th , reverts to his favourite length, forgets the game plan and bowls. 6 shots in four ends and it’s over. 31st end Steven 31 Uncle Joe 21. Another good tussle, mentally and bowls wise. Well done Steve and Joe.
MICHAEL GUZIN V DAVID GILL
This one was always going to be a little one sided. Michael Guzin, one of our new bowlers of 6 months, and David Gill who’s been playing about 10 years. David made the Semis in 2013 losing by 1 shot to Tony Wright and is a very handy bowler, Michael new but showing significant promise. This one was down the other end of the green so I didn’t see too much but what I saw was Michael played very well, drawing some nice shots and converting with weight when needed. He took a 3 off Gilly on the 15th end but David consistently drew shot and ran out the winner 31-15. Congratulations Gilly and well done Michael, the more Championships you enter the better bowler you will become.
GRAEME MANNING V ROD SILBER
Also on No 1 was Graeme Manning and Rod “Rid” Silber our 2016 club Champion. I played Graeme last year and he gave me a good run particularly on long ends, this one may be interesting. Roddy shot out to a 6-2 lead but Graeme gets a 3. Ridley concentrates and is 11-5 up on the 10th end. On the 14th it’s 12-11 to Rod with Graeme bagging a single and another 3. This is not going to script. Rod gets a 3 and Graeme two singles, 15-13 Rod. Ok Rod needs to change it up and goes medium securing 4 shots then GM bags another 3. End 21 and it’s 19-16 Rod. Rod again pushes ahead with a single and a 2, 22-16 Roddy. GM gets a single, the mat and goes long wins the next two ends and its’s 22-20 Rod. He is not going away Rod what to do? Rod won the Singles in 2016 and was been a Zone rep for many years. He takes a 2 on the 27th , end 24-20 Rod, and goes short to the ditch, unusual for Rod as he is known for his long ends. It does, however, work and he wins the next five ends straight to close the match out 31-20 on the 32nd end. Congratulations Rod and well done Graeme.
JIMMY BARCLAY V CHRIS CAREY
Our last game promised to be another cracker and it did not disappoint. 2018 runner up Jimmy Barclay up against 2013 and 2017 Champion Chris Carey. Two top grade bowlers in action on the new tiffy. The wind proved a little tricky as did the opponents in a 35 end tussle. CC won the toss, kept the mat (unusual) and throws ditch to ditch, Jimmy takes a 1 with good draw bowling. Jimmy throws medium and CC scores a 4. This was going to be a strange game, and so it was. CC edges ahead but Jimmy pulls him back, 8-7 to Chris 9th end. CC holding 1 Jimmy plays a firm draw to promote his bowl but gets one of CC’s and goes down 2, a very unlucky result as it was a good bowl. Jimmy pulls back a few shots and CC wins a few more 14-9 Chris on the 15th. Each player is looking a little nervous and has not settled into a rhythm yet, changing lengths and mat positions.
Jimmy then makes a number of good draws and conversions winning the next three ends including a 3 count, 15-14 Jimmy. Chris wins the next three ends short to the middle, 18-15 CC. Jimmy wins the next three ends with singles, 18 all on 24th end. Both players were in the groove now. Chris picks up a three but then drops a 2 and a 4, a very good drawing end from Jimmy and a poor end from CC. 24-22 Jimmy.
When you drop a 4 you must come back hard, refocus, concentrate, simply your thoughts. It is a must win end. Jimmy is a little tight and CC dead draws the first bowl for shot. Jim draw his next two and CC puts one two foot short in front of the jack. Chris with his last bowl arrives on the front bowl pushing the jack between his back bowl scoring 2. He then picks up a 3 on the next end and the lead changes again, 26-24 CC. Jimmy gets a single and Chris wins the next two and it’s 28-25 CC. 3 shots to win vs 6, you feel confident, you feel good, you feel relaxed. Wrong. Next end is short to the ditch Jimmy is holding 1 and CC has two bowls at the back. Chris looks to covert to a 3 by trailing the jack, misses it by a few millimetres and hits his second shot. He is now down 3. Jim plays a safe draw and takes the 3 - 28 all.
Jim then score a 2 with great drawing and its 30-28 Jimmy. Bowls ain’t fair sometimes. Jim rolls a medium to long end, with one bowl to play Chris is holding 3, all about 2-3 feet from the jack. Jimmy unfortunately falls short and CC declares the head. 31-30 to Chris. The game had some great shots and some scrappy heads at times. Both players played well and both felt the pressure and frustration at different times. That’s why we love bowls, it’s always changing, mentally and physically. Well played Jimmy and unlucky on the day.
Next week sees the quarters with Fred vs Greg Smith, John Cumming vs Steven Goddard, Chris Carey vs Rod Silber, Gilly vs the winner of Chris “I may run at any time” Wood and Tim “good night John boy” Walton to be played this Wednesday. These will all be quality games so make sure you play social or have a beer and watch. It should be a great afternoon. Bowls will be the winner.
Report penned by Chris Carey