Zone 9 Senior Fours Final, Belrose Bowling Club, 14 Feb 2021
Oh when the Saints! Go marching in! Oh when the Saints go marching in. And march they did!
The Tiffy was running a clip over 15 seconds, a slight breeze and it was the final of the Zone Senior Fours. The mighty Saints of Fred “backhand will do” Alexander, Steven “Hymn” Goddard, Wilson “the Wilsonator” Cheng and Rod “the Riddler” Silber were up against the Belrose team of Joe “Critter” Saragoza, Richard “the Governor” Wise, Tony “TT” Taylor, and Steve “Plum” Ashdown. This was going to be a cracker!
The Saints started strongly, jumping out to an 8-1 lead after 7. All of our boys were contributing - with the Wilsonator drawing some great additional shots. But this experienced Belrose team were not going down without a fight! 2x2 saw the score 8-5, a shot here and there and it’s 9-6 to St Ives after 11 ends. This is a low scoring game because of the high quality heads.
The 12th end saw the head building nicely for Belrose. Saints are down a couple. At this stage your scribe’s hamburger and chips arrived and I promptly gave Rod a handful of chips (well he actually took them on the cross over - I only just got my beer away from him in time). This was all he needed, and he dutifully converted to 2 up. Evidently, carbs are very good for elite athletes!
11-6 the Saints. Belrose hit back with a single and St Ives responds with a single. 12-7 on 14 ends. In a final I’ll take a five shot lead with 7 ends to go and having won 9 of the 14 ends played. Bookies would have you at 2-1 on to win with those stats, but I couldn’t find a bookie and bowls is a game that can turn on one bowl. We will see this shortly.
Belrose couldn’t find a length that worked for them up until now. Fred uncharacteristically put the jack in the ditch going for a ditch to ditch and Belrose throw a medium to nothing length. Plum had been just missing on big conversion opportunities and he is too good to keep missing. The Saints had been playing a conservative draw game, would they regret a lost opportunity for a big count?
Another good head from both sides. Skips on the matt. Plum converts, 2 to Belrose, 12-9 Saints. Next end Hymn draws one behind a foot and trails the jack to his first with six inches either side, both bowls dead in line with the jack. Plum draws a foot over, if he gets the jack he makes a 5. He slides through that six inches and the Saints claw back a 2. 14-9. I’m still looking for a bookie.
Then it happens. Jack in the ditch again from St Ives and Belrose pick up a 2. TT and Plum draw very well and Belrose pick up a 3. 14-14 on the 18th end, would the Saints regret some conservative play earlier?
A good head forms on a medium/long end. Governor draws shot and TT adds another. We have two third shots and a couple of 5ths. Rod walks towards the mat and I say, “Rod, have some more chips”. He takes a handful of Grippo-covered chips and walks to the mat. Plum draws one close but not in the count, Rod offers him a chip, but he declines. Ridley runs and misses the jack by a bee’s you know what. Plum is covering but drops short. Rod can only go harder at the jack. I told you about carbs and they kick in, Rod plays the bowl of the day, hits the jack into the shot bowl and bounces it back towards the mat and scores a 2, a 4-shot turnaround. That’s why bowls is not an Olympic sport. 16-14 Saints.
Long end, Fred and Steven draw well, Saints holding 2. Wilson draws another, Saints holding three. Lots of close Belrose bowls. Belrose’s TT crosses the head. Wilson draws short 18 inches and just out of the count. TT crosses the head. Rod covers the Belrose bowls to right of the head taking away the trail for 4. Plum has only one shot and runs at the head, misses wide. Rod draws but is a little over weight out of the head. Plum runs again and hits the head, removes all the bowls except for Wilson’s shot and the Wilson short bowl. 2 shots St Ives, 18-14 Saints 20th end.
Belrose need a 4, I find a bookie, one of the Belrose 2’s and he offers 1:1 odds. A good head develops with Belrose holding one shot. Plum has a run and misses; it’s all over. The Saints are winners and are through to the State play offs!
Congratulations Fred Alexander, Steven Goddard, Wilson Cheng and Roddy Silber. Great win fellas, that’s our second title in three years with Fred and Wilson having won the Zone Triples 2 years ago. Our mighty club is very proud of all of you. What a team, what a result.
When asked who the man of the match was, I honestly answered that I couldn’t pick one. All four of our boys contributed when needed, all played some bombs, all covered for each other when needed, all high fived good shots and all kept each other positive. They played their bowls for their team mates. That’s a team effort, that’s what wins games, titles and flags. Pennants is just around the corner so remember 4’s is the ultimate contest in bowls and the ultimate team game. Play for your mates.
Oh Lord I want to be in that number, when the Saints go marching in!
Ramblings report by Saints- Chris "Scarey" Carey