Men’s Pairs – 16 Top teams to battle it out
The fours have finished and now it’s on to the Pairs. The Devonport Bowls Club will be the host club where 16 teams will be whittled down to the last two, before they meet on Sunday the 8th to decide the winner. The field remaining in the pair’s field is highly talented and features some of the best players in the state. All 16 teams must think they are a chance to make the final and if they do, they know they have fully deserved their spot.
My predictions of the fours quarter finals were woeful, 0/4, but my best results were in the Pairs when I predicted 11 of the 13 section winners. So despite bowlers asking me not to give them the kiss of death, here is my preview of the Round of 16 and my selections for who will make it through to the final.
In what could easily be the match of the round, newly crowned State Fours champion Luke Richardson takes on the defending champion, Lee Schraner. With Brad Gibson and Cameron Tegg leading for the respective teams, this game will be a match of the highest quality. Richardson’s confidence will be sky high but I think the defending champions will get over the line.
After finishing Runners Up in the State Fours, Steve Graf and Pete Bannister will be keen to have another crack at a title. They come up against Daniel Baker and Michael Sims, Baker a previous pairs champions and Sims a Runner Up last year. All four players know what it takes to get through a day like this but I think a full day yesterday may make it hard for Graf & Bannister to back up. I’ll take Baker and Sims to win.
The youthful team of Josh Mabb and Chris Roach will be keen to get on top of fellow youngster Matthew Mitchell. Mabb and Roach are players of promise and will be keen to run well tomorrow and make sure the selectors take notice. I think they will have the fire power to defeat Mitchell.
An all East Launceston battle sees Damian Lewis and Adam Gurr take on Scott Summers and Rob McMullen. I’m not sure who the East contingent will be cheering for but it will be interesting to see how well Summers, normally a skip, leads against Lewis who leads and does so well. I think the experience of Summers and McMullen should see them through but this by no means an easy match up for them.
The second half of the draw sees Taelyn Male match up against Greg Douce. Male, playing with Burnie’s Jake Wyllie only just made it through to the post sectional as the third lucky loser. Douce will team up with State Fours champion Rocket Horton. Rocket has showed he is in great form and could be the difference in this match up, Douce to win for me.
The other match that I think could vie for best round of the match is the Andrew Whitmore & Mark Nitz matchup. Both partnerships, Whitmore with partner Brodie Baker & Nitz with David Gamble have won this event and work well as teams. Nitz has only been able to play in the Pairs this year and will be keen to win and will have the support of the NW Coast crowd. Whitmore has been in some great form and is another player keen to show the selectors how he can handle the pressure at this level. I think Nitz just gets the win in this match that will likely be the last to finish.
Two experienced skips clash when David Minns plays Ricky Richardson. Minns has young gun Isaac Maughan as his lead who will benefit from the experience of playing in the Fours semi-final today. Richardson has Jarryd Brown who will not let Maughan have it all his own way. This will be a fantastic match to watch and it will be great to see who takes advantages of the opportunities that are presented to them. I’ll go Minns but the margin should be less than 3.
Matty Jackson & Lachie Sims will be keen to put the disappointment of the singles behind them and will be looking to be the team that advances from the bottom half of the draw. Josh Walker-Davis & Kevin Rowlings advanced as lucky losers but did so in the fours and won their first match today. Could they do the same again? Walker-Davis always seems to have a way of winning games he isn’t expected to, but that is mainly in Singles. I’m sure he’d love to prove me wrong again, but I’m going with Sims to win this one.
That’s the 8 matches in the round of 16. If my selections do come through matches such as Schraner/M Sims, Mabb/McMullen, Douce/Nitz & Minns/L Sims awaits. What an amazing line-up if that eventuates! Even if only 2 of these matches go ahead, they will be crackers to watch.
But what about a prediction of the final. Anyone have a dart board? The defending champions haven’t put a foot wrong and I can’t go past them, so Tegg/Schraner in the top half of the draw. I think their opponents will be Gamble/Nitz. But it wouldn’t surprise to see a L Richardson/Whitmore final and I haven’t picked them to get to the quarter finals.
What a great day of bowls awaits! Good luck to all bowlers and if you can get along to Devonport to watch, do yourself a favour and be there!
By David Genford