Tasmania vs Queensland, a warm up to the Sides Championships
The Tasmanian teams have arrived in NSW ready for the 2019 Sides Championships to be played at the Ettalong Bowling Club. As now happens every second year, Tasmania took on Queensland in two tests as a warm up to the main event. If the tests finished 1-1, then the Sides Championships match would count as the third in the best of three series. Our Men were the holders of this shield from two years ago, whilst our women were attempting to take the shield for the first time.
In the morning the matchups were as follows;
Luke Richardson vs Aron Sherriff
Lee Schraner vs Brett Wilkie
Mark Nitz vs Kurt Brown
Candice Hodgetts vs Lynsey Clarke
Courtney Hobbs vs Chloe Stewart
Rebecca Van Asch vs Bolivia Millerick
Let’s start with the women first. The goal would need to be to finish close to the Queenslanders, to demonstrate that this Sides Championships could start to see a reversal in fortune. A test win would do the world of good for the confidence of the team. Early in the game, the Queenslanders would take the advantage in 2 of the 3 rinks. Hodgetts and Van Asch trailed by 6 shots after 6 ends, whilst Hobbs would lead by 6, and I thought the new 6/6/6 rule was a new AFL rule! The Tasmanian team was keeping it close but couldn’t make any major dents into the Qld team. Hodgetts’ rink started to come good towards the end of the game, winning 4 consecutive ends to turn a 9 shot margin into a 1 shot game with 3 ends to play. Hobbs had seen her lead slip but regained the lead so she too had a one shot margin with three ends to go but to her advantage. Van Asch had seen her margin drift out to 9 before winning two of the next three ends to trail by 5 with 3 ends to play. Unfortunately for us, the remaining ends were pretty evenly split, giving Queensland the win. Each rink would lose by 3 shots, but the 9 shot loss showed that we did have the ability to match it with one of the stronger states.
Our Men also found themselves behind early in two of the rinks. Richardson down 1-5 & Schraner down 1-7 with Nitz the only leader early leading 6-4. Tasmania however, would fight their qay back into the game and take the lead after 30 ends. Richardson amazingly picked up a 7 on the 7th end to take the lead and consolidated that 7 by winning the next 3 ends and led 17-8 after 10 ends. Schraner also started to make an impact on the scoreboard only trailing by 3. Nitz at the same point had dropped to a narrow one shot deficit, Tasmania having a shot lead. Richardson would find that you can’t keep a player with quality down as Sherriff would rally his troops and pick up the next 6 ends to reclaim the lead on his rink and the overall board. Richardson would trail by 1 shot with 4 ends remaining. Schraner & Wilkie were having a humdinger of a game, trading ends with neither skip surrendering an end where they had last bowl for 8 consecutive ends in the middle of the game. When Schraner could win two ends in a row, it brought him level, 17 all with 2 ends to play. Nitz’ rink was having a better time of it, keeping a lead against Brown and taking a 3 shot lead into the 19th end. The Queensland Men would match their female counterparts in managing to win ends at the most crucial moments of the game. Sheriff completed his comeback with 6 shots over the last 4 ends to win 25-20. Wilkie would pick up the last two ends and 5 shots to win 22-17, whilst Nitz would win the last two ends and take his rink 21-15, but Queensland would win by 4, so close but yet so far.
The second test took place in the afternoon and saw the skips match up in the following way;
Women – Hobbs vs Clarke, Hodgetts vs Millerick & Van Asch vs Stewart
Men – Nitz vs Sheriff, Richardson vs Wilkie & Schraner vs Brown
A slow start would once again take hold for the women. For our team to have success in the Sides Championships, this will need to be a focus moving forward. After 6 ends Hobbs trailed by 3, Hodgetts was level and Van Asch trailled by 5. Hobbs picked up a 5 on the 10th end t level her score, whilst Hodgetts would also level her score on the 10th end. The Queensland team would lead by 6 with Stewart leading 13-7 against Van Asch. Hobbs’ rink would start to struggle with Clarke picking up 4 consecutive ends and losing one more multiple result over the remainder of the game. Clarke would end up winning by 5. Van Asch got back into the game, winning ends 12-14 and reducing the margin to 2, but that would be as close as she would get, only winning one more end, the last one with the end score being 22-14 to Stewart. The one bright spot for Tasmania was the Hodgetts rink who would end up 18-15 winners against Millerick, bringing the overall margin to 10. Once again respectable, but consistently playing at a high level will be key to ensure victories occur during the Sides event.
The Men needed to win the 2nd test or at least draw to keep the hopes of defending the shield alive. Queensland were keen to take the title and be ready to hit the Sides Championships with maximum momentum. Unfortunately the Men would once again start slowly, Nitz trailing 0-7 and then 2-19, Richardson trailing 2-7 and then 2-12 & Schraner trailing 1-6 and then 7-16 after losing a 7 on the 10th end. Things were not looking good for our men, but the margin would be slowly reduced. Nitz made ground on Sheriff but could only reduce the margin back to 11 by the end of the game. Richardson would make a game of it, picking up 8 shots in 4 ends at one stage. With two ends remaining the scores will level but Wilkie would win the last two ends and take the win by 2 shots. Schraner recovered from his dropped 7 to reduce the margin back to 1 with 5 ends to go but he could only win one of those five ends, eventually losing by 4 shots. The end margin would be 17 shots to the favour of Queensland. The shield would return to the sunny state.
Now the focus turns to the Sides Championships. The first two round see Tasmania take on the ACT and then South Australia. If either side wants to push for a Top 3 finish, a 2-0 result from Day 1 is crucial. The teams will need to ensure they start well and don’t allow any big scores to be dropped. The expectations are high for the Men after their recent success so let’s hope they can live up to those expectations! Best of luck to the players!
Men Qld 62-58 Tas
Luke Richardson vs Aron Sherriff 20-25
Mark Nitz vs Kurt Brown 21-15
Lee Schraner vs Brett Wilkie 17-22
Women Qld 59-50
Candice Hodgetts vs Lynsey Clarke 19-22
Courtney Hobbs vs Chloe Stewart 16-19
Rebecca Van Asch vs Bolivia Millerick 15-18
Women Qld – 57-47
Hobbs vs Clarke 15-20
Hodgetts vs Millerick 18-15
Van Asch vs Stewart 14-22
Men Qld – 67-50
Nitz vs Sheriff 13-24
Richardson vs Wilkie 17-19
Schraner vs Brown 20-24
By David Genford