Can Van Asch make it 2 from 2? Men’s Fours also a chance
The Women’s triples had a dramatic come from behind win in their Semi Final match Against South Africa. An extra end and nerves of steel saw them go through to the final, where they will play Wales at 7am (AEDST) tomorrow. The Men’s Fours were also successful and will play off at 11am (AEDST) against hosts New Zealand. Unfortunately both the Women’s Pairs and Men’s Singles were eliminated but our singles representative Aron Sherriff does walk away with a bronze medal.
Rebecca Van Asch, Carla Krizanic and Natasha Scott got off to a start they would rather forget about it in their semi-finals today. Their opponents South Africa, defeated Scotland 18-17 in the morning match, meaning Australia avoided the only team the defeated them in the sectional rounds. But South Africa proved to be worthy opponents and jumped out to a 7-1 lead after 5 ends. Australia then steadied winning consecutive ends for the first time only to see South Africa win the next three ends, the score being 11-5 after 10 ends. With more than half the match over, the Australian trio knew that it was now or never to make a comeback if they wanted to play off for the gold medal. And comeback they did, the next three ends got them back to within 2 shots before the 14th end, the end that looked like was going to give Australia the ultimate advantage. A pick-up of four shots looked to kill off the South Africa challenge. Australia had hit the front for the first time, had won the last 4 ends and had momentum on their side. South Africa however, were not to be denied. They hit back with a 3 on the 15th end, regaining the lead and keeping the crowd on the edge of their seats. The last 3 ends saw the team with the last bowl get a single, including the last end where Van Asch played a great drive to earn her team the shot, but ultimately the scores would be level, an extra end was to be played. South Africa had the mat but Natasha Scott would push up one of Carla Krizanic’s bowls in for shot. The South Africans ran at the head, killing the end but with the re-spot rule in play, Australia still had the shot. Van Asch was not required to do anything on this crucial end as the South African skip could not change the head and Australia was through to the final.
The Asutralians will play Wales, who defeated Section 1 winners Malaysia 18-16 after earlier defeating England 16-12. Wales finished second to Australia in the sectional play, losing to Australia 8-20 in Round 6. Wales has only had one other defeat, 5-26 against Fiji in Round 3, so overall have now won 9 matches and lost 2. They will be tough opponents indeed!
With the tournament now reaching the end of the second week, all players fitness levels are being tested. They have all had 6 days of 9 hours on the green plus the finals days that our Australian women participated in. I asked Van Asch, how her fitness was holding up, “I did a lot of work on my fitness leading into these Championships. I’ve been working pretty solidly with my personal trainer Jacob Gelston for nearly 6 months in preparation and I’m certainly feeling the benefits of this at the late stages of the event.” Van Asch played some crucial bowls towards the end of the semi-final and hadn’t found her team so far behind very often in this discipline, “It was certainly a come from behind win for us today. I’m really wrapped with my conversions today, it certainly helped us a lot. There wasn’t much in the score over the last few ends, I’m just glad we played a good extra end and we are all ecstatic to come away with the win.”
The Men’s Fours team had to win two matches today but did so comfortably. A morning 21-12 win against the USA, set up a match against Ireland who had defeated them 14-21 in Round 8. But this time, the Australians would get off to a very strong start and despite a very drawn out match, with the Irish team taking their time on every end, the Australians maintained their concentration and ran out winners 22-10 with the last end not being required. Australia will play hosts New Zealand who dominated Scotland 20-3 in their semi-final. The Blackjacks results today will be a relief for team management who saw four semi-final defeats in week 1 become three semi-final wins in week 2. If anything, it will keep the local Kiwi commentators happy when they telecast the finals over the weekend!
When Brett Wilkie won the Pairs in Week 1, he became the first Australian male to win a second world title, he will now have a chance to win his 3rd tomorrow, “I am over the moon to be in another final!” Wilkie will be able to give club mate Mark Casey the perfect send off as he plays his last game for Australia, “There is definitely extra motivation to all go well with Aussie legend Mark Casey playing his last game for Australia. I have had the privilege of playing with Mark over many years from International through to State and Club level and it will be a special moment to share the green with him for his Australian swansong. Mark and I were part of the team that won the fours title four years ago, so to go back to back would be something special!” Wilkie is very wary of his opponents and how well they have been playing (they are currently undefeated), “The Kiwi boys have been going well and we are looking forward to another great battle with our Trans-Tasman counterparts.” I was also interested to see how the team would prepare for the final, whether they watch the Women play or if they try and relax and stay away from the bowls green, “We will have a relaxing morning before cheering on our Girls in the Triples final. I also want to take the opportunity to thank everyone back home for their support during the event.” Let’s hope the Men can finish the tournament off in style, in what should be a cracking encounter.
Aron Sherriff was unable to win his semi-final, but both he and opponent Shannon McIlroy provided the watching crowd with a great game, with both players playing very well. Sherriff started the day by accounting for Wales 21-8. Against McIlroy, neither player could establish a big advantage with the player behind on the score board always able to claw their way back into the game. At 17-17, it was still anyone’s match but McIlroy won the key ends and won 21-18. He will play the adopted Australian, Ryan Bester (Canada) who came from behind to defeat Scotland’s Darren Burnett. Bester had lost to Burnett in the Commonwealth Games Gold medal match and will be hoping not to add another silver medal to his cabinet when he meets McIlroy on Sunday at 11am (AEDST).
The Women’s Pairs team of Kelsey Cottrell and Karen Murphy went down to England 12-17. The team will probably replay the last 4 ends of this match in their head as they lead 12-10 before losing the last four ends. Cottrell, who was attempting to defend her Pairs title from 4 years ago and Murphy who was trying to add a 5th World title to her collection, can walk away from the two weeks with heads held high. Gold medals from Week 1 and a strong performance in the Pairs would make anyone happy and hopefully this loss won’t take any gloss off their efforts from Week 1. The finals in the Pairs will be between Wales and New Zealand after both teams who had a bye in their section won the semi-finals. This match will be played on Sunday at 7am (AEDST).
Hopefully you are able to watch our teams play tomorrow, maybe it’s time to be really nice to your friend that has Foxtel or if you are lucky enough to watch it in the comfort of your lounge room, then enjoy some cracking bowls and hopefully another Gold Medal or two heading back home!
By David Genford