2019 Sides Championships Review
The 2019 National Sides Championships have been concluded, played at the Ettalong Bowls Club in NSW. Firstly I’d like to apologise to all the players for not being able to provide updates at the end of each day, but real life and sick children got in the way, so I will provide a summary of what happened.
Both the Men & Women played the same state at the same time. The first match was to be against the ACT. The women started off the game very well, having the lead at the half way point, whilst the men trailed. The women continued their strong play, a 6 to Courtney Hobbs helped keep the ACT at bay winning by 18 shots and picking up a win on all rinks, Rebecca Van Asch 20-15, Courtney Hobbs 22-10 & Candice Hodgetts 21-20. The men fought back well and took the lead with about 14 ends remaining. They too would not allow ACT back into the game winning by 5 shots. Luke Richardson 29-20 and Mark Nitz 23-16 both started off with a win whilst Lee Schraner was defeated 13-24. After Round 1 the women were 1st & the men were 2nd.
Next was South Australia. At the half way point the women trailed by 13 with only Van Asch leading. The men had recovered from a poor start to trail by 6, the margin could have been in the double figures if Richardson’s rink hadn’t picked up an 8, an event not common at this level. The women got the margin back to 5 but couldn’t get their nose in front, eventually going down by 8 shots, Van Asch 24-20, Hobbs 17-15 & Hodgetts 14-28. The second half of Van Asch’s game was live streamed on Facebook, the link to see that is – https://www.facebook.com/BowlsAustralia/videos/307473789922466/. The men took the lead with about 10 ends to play and as was the case in the morning, were not headed. The scores were Richardson 31-27, Nitz 27-14 & Schraner 15-25. The ladder now saw the women in 3rd and the men remained 2nd.
Day 2 saw Western Australia as out first opponent. The women started off slowly and were approximately 11 shots down at the half way mark. The men however had gotten off to their best start, leading by 8 shots. The men not having to chase, would now have to show they could lead from the front. The women could never bridge the gap and lost some shots late trying to chase the win. The end result would be a 20 shot loss with no rink able to gain a win. The scores were Van Asch 10-17, Hobbs 14-22 & Hodgetts 14-19. The Men also lost shots late, 6 shots up with 3 to play, but 6 shots lost in 2 ends meant scores were level with 1 end to go. David Gamble played a monster bowl to trail the jack when WA had a front toucher, a shot that couldn’t be beaten and Tasmania would take the win. The end scores were Schraner 20-16, Richardson 17-18 & Nitz 18-20, a one shot win to keep the perfect record intact. The women dropped to 4th, NSW & Wa the two undefeated teams whilst the men would stay 2nd behind NSW who were the only other team to be undefeated. To see the second half of Schraner’s match, go to – https://www.facebook.com/BowlsAustralia/videos/833543050349210/.
The 4th round saw Tasmania come up against Victoria. A poor start from both sides saw them trailing by double digits very early. A big come back would be required, not easy against one of the strongest states. The women were able to do so, a 5 to Van Asch midway through the game, helped reduce the gap before they would hit the front. The men however had seen the margin push beyond twenty shots. All three women’s rinks would hit the lead, helping build the main board. A lead of 9 with not many ends to go gave them confidence but some dropped ends including a 4 against Hodgetts, where all 4 Victorian bowls were within 6 inches. They would only be 1 shot up with 4 ends to go. Hobbs played a beautiful bowl under pressure changing 3 down to 1 up, whilst Hodgetts also picked up a 2 with a great conversion. 4 up with 2 to play, advantage Tasmania. Hodgetts would play the last two ends and the first of those ends saw her 5 or 6 down with only her bowls to play. A very good drive reduced the score to 1 down, leaving Tassie leading by 3 with the last bowl. The Vics could never quite get the 3 they needed, with a drive by Victoria ultimately giving Tassie the end and the game. The end results were Van Asch 21-14, Hobbs 15-16 & Hodgetts 19-21. The men were never in the hunt and despite a rink win to Nitz, the overall margin was 22 shots. The scores were Nitz 17-16, Schraner 15-25 & Richardson 12-25. Despite the win, the women dropped to 5th and the men dropped to 3rd.
The third day saw Queensland as our first opponent, coming off two defeats in the warm up, the teams were keen to not let it be a three nil whitewash. The women got off to a good start, only trailing by 3 at the half way point, Hobbs who trailed by 10 reduced her margin to 4 to bring the overall score to the 3 shot mark. The Men all were behind with Richardson’s rink losing by 10 and a 15 margin overall. Unfortunately for the women, they dropped some scores in the middle of the game and the score went into double digits. They did start to put pressure on the Queenslanders but at the end of the day they were too strong winning by 12 shots. The scores were Van Asch 26-14, Hobbs 17-22 & Hodgetts 12-31. The men found it tough against such a strong outfit. Queensland never let them back into the game, the one bright spot being Schraner’s 1 shot win against Aron Sherriff. Queensland would win by 32 shots with the scores being Schraner 20-19, Richardson 13-28 & Nitz 13-31. The women were now 6th, on equal points with 4th and the men were 4th equal with 3rd place.
The second match of the day was against the Northern Territory, a great chance for both teams to move back up the ladder before heading into the last day against NSW who had yet to lose a game. Disappointingly only one rink would lead at the half way point but for the women, the 15 shot lead to Hodgetts saw the women lead by 11. The men trailed by 13 with Schraner level but both other rinks behind. The women finished the game off well. Van Asch would end up losing but both Hodgetts & Hobbs got over the line helping Tasmania to a 13 shot win. The end scores were Hobbs 19-14, Hodgetts 24-10 & Van Asch 14-20. The men never got into the game with no rink getting more than 14 shots. This would be NT’s only win of the championships, helping them move into 7th position. The end scores were Schraner 14-17, Richardson 13-20 & Nitz 13-19. The women had now moved into 4th (3 wins 3 losses) and the men were in 5th (3 wins 3 losses).
The last round would be against NSW. 6-0 in both competitions, the men already crowned champions and the women still needing the win to stop Queensland (5-1) from stealing the title away from them. For both teams, the depth of NSW was too difficult to overcome. Two rinks were able to keep pace with their opposition, but that third rink would prove the difference. AT the half way point, the women trailed by 13 and the men by 8, not much of a margin but the opposition was the best of the best. With Schraner playing his last game for Tasmania, there would be no magical send off for him with both teams unable to close the gap, NSW taking the win, the two shields and the overall trophy. The end scores were Hodgetts 22-17, Van Asch 16-18 & Hobbs 11-34 for a 20 shot loss, and in the men Nitz 24-21, Schraner 14-25 & Richardson 16-21 for a 3 shot loss.
Both teams would end with 3 wins and 4 losses whilst the women would finish 4th, the men would finish 5th. After 2018’s result the women should be very pleased with their 4th place finish. It shows that there is progress being made and hopefully a top three finish is within the realms of possibility in the next few years. For the men, it shows how far we have come that a 5th place finish is considered a disappointment. The NT loss stings, but a win still would have had us in 5th. I think they should be pleased with their efforts and be aware of what needs to be done to compete against the bigger states.
During the series some milestones were achieved;
200 games – Rebecca Van Asch (1st woman to achieve this milestone), Mark Nitz & Robert McMullen
100 games – Maureen Zoon & Courtney Hobbs
50 games – Luke Richardson, Candice Hodgetts & Alison Venn
The players of the series were also announced at the conclusion of the event. Congratulations to Rebecca Van Asch & Josh Walker-Davis for winning these awards.
By David Genford