Van Asch secures another medal, all Jackaroos advance
Carla Krizanic, Natasha Scott & Rebecca Van Asch have secured another medal to add to their collection by finishing top of their section and earning a bye straight through to the semi-finals. The other Jackaroo teams were not so fortunate, with a few losses relegating them to 2nd or 3rd and the requirement to play 2 games tomorrow to qualify for the Weekend Gold Medal matches.
Van Asch’s team knew that only one win from three matches was required to finish on top of the ladder but a slip up to the tune of 9-22 in the first match against Scotland delayed their celebrations. Sporting experts will often use the cliché ‘this was the loss that they had to have’ but Van Asch was quick to give credit to their opposition, “Scotland played well this morning. We held a couple of fours that their skip converted early, which set the tone a little bit for the rest of the game. We didn’t have our best game either. But, it is better to have this result now, then later on when it is do or die.” The next match against Brunei was a golden chance to clinch the section and clinch it they did when they blasted Brunei off the green with a 20-0 lead that never looked by being headed. The 30-5 win put any nervous doubts to bed and the team could play the final match against Ireland in a very relaxed frame of mind. They still went on to win 21-8, to finish with 8 wins and a shots up of 139!
The bye means the morning off and also a little bit of a sleep in for the three women, “We’re going to leave a little after the rest of the team tomorrow. They start at 9am and we’ll be there by 9:30am to cheer them on,” said Van Asch. “Our main focus in the morning is to do our bit and cheer the others in all 3 disciplines. We’re one team here and we want to see all our teams’ medal. We’ll worry about our opposition once we know who they are, we’ll just be focussed on playing the best we can when the time comes.”
The Australian team will play the winner of South Africa & Scotland. Scotland being the only team to have defeated the Australians, lost three games in their section, whilst South Africa went through their section with two losses. The South Africans also defeated the team that won their section, Malaysia, so neither team will be an easy opponent for the Australians. On the other side of the draw Malaysia will play the winner of Wales & England.
The Women’s Pairs of Kelsey Cottrell and Karen Murphy had a disappointing day but their effort over the three days was good enough for them to finish second in their section. Australia defeated England to assure themselves a final spot but losses against Cyprus & Canada prevented a run at the number one position. The random draw nature of the post sectional format has thrown up the unusual matchups that Australia must face sectional opponents England and then New Zealand if they are to make the final. The 17-15 result in Round 7, shows that the England match up will not be one sided but if they can get over the line a re-match with New Zealand should provide an excellent encounter. The 7-24 loss in Round 3 should not be expected again but a prediction of the match would be fool hardy, as the focus will be completely on the England match.
In the Men’s singles Aron Sherriff had a surprising 18-21 loss to Indian player Sunhill Bahadur, who had also defeated Ryan Bester in Round 5, two impressive scalps for the Indian representative. This also put the pressure on Sherriff who was now required to defeat both Guernsey and Canada to guarantee a finals spot. But pressure is nothing new to Sherriff, who did just what was required winning 21-10 and 21-16 respectively. The win against Ryan Bester almost cost Bester top spot but he would hold on due to a superior shots up compared to Scotland’s Darren Burnett. “I’ve been pleased with the way I was playing, getting better as the section went on,” said Sherriff at the end of the days play, “but there is still room for some improvement though!” The finals draw sees Sherriff avoid both Bester & Burnett, the silver and gold medal winners from the most recent Commonwealth Games. Sherriff has drawn Jonathon Tomlinson of Wales with the winner to go on and play New Zealand’s Shannon McIlroy. Both Tomlinson & McIlroy both only lost one match in their section, “There’s no easy draw at this stage of the tournament, I’m just happy to be in the finals and looking forward to putting my best foot forward,” concluded Sherriff.
The Men’s Fours competition saw the two undefeated teams in Section 2, Australia & England, suffer two losses from their three matches. Both teams lost to Ireland, meaning Ireland only had to beat Spain to finish top of the group. They did so but only just, 14-13. Both Australia & England finished 2 games clear of 4th but will both be disappointed to let first place slip through their fingers. The Australians will have an opportunity to avenge their defeat to Ireland but first must defeat the USA to have that chance. The USA won 6 of their 9 matches but finished with a -15 shots up thanks mainly to a 4-45 loss to section winners New Zealand. A win against 2nd placed Scotland shows that the USA can perform on their day and that the Australian team should not take them lightly. The other half of the draw sees New Zealand play the winner of Scotland and England.
The women are in the box seat to take out the Overall Women’s championship. They currently have 7 points and can only be caught by England who have 2 points. For England to win they would have to win both remaining disciplines and Australia to lose both of their next matches.
The men are in a much tighter race overall. They currently have 5 points, whilst New Zealand who are through to both of the remaining semi-finals have 4 points. England & Scotland could also get to 6 points if they win all of their remaining matches. This one looks to come down to the Aussies & Kiwis, let’s hope that Australians finish on top!
By David Genford