Schraner & Maskell advance on another day of close defeats
Rosny Park’s Lee Schraner and Queensland’s Geoff Maskell are through to the Round of 16 in the Men’s Pairs after three wins from today’s games. We also had action from the Women’s Fours and Men’s Over 60’s Pairs but no Tasmanian’s will be advancing any further in these events. The Bowlers with a Disability disciplines also started but Tasmania had no players participating this year.
All 3 of our Men’s Pairs teams that qualified for the Knock out section of the event got off to a great start in the first game. Maskell & Schraner won 19-8, the Bannister’s from Derwent City, Ross & Peter won 18-11 against their New Zealand opponents and Robert McMullen & Taelyn Male were successful 16-13. Our first casualty of the day came in the second round when the Bannister’s were defeated 13-17 by D Slater & R Elford from Queensland. A great run from the father and son combination to make the Round of 64 but that is where their journey would end. The other two pairings made it two from two with McMullen/Male not allowing their opposition to reach double digits in their convincing 17-9 victory over S Trewarne (Vic) whilst Schraner also had a comfortable win 20-13 over A Taylor (Qld).
This left our two teams in the last 32 of the event with McMullen/Male taking on S Massey & P Watson from NSW and Schraner matching up against J Cook & D Morrison, also of NSW. Maskell & Schraner were once again dominant and will hopefully use this momentum and confidence and turn into a very deep run in this event. Their end margin was 20-7 and they were never really troubled. It would be a different story for McMullen & Male. A 0-4 start turned into 3-10 and it looked like our boys were going to find it tough to get back into the game. But some consistent play and back to back multiple counts had them only 2 shots down with 5 ends to play, a much more manageable proposition. And what looked to be like the crucial end was End 16 when the boys picked up an all drawn 5 to take the lead by 3 shots with 2 to play, they were now in the box seat. A loss of one shot saw the margin tighten to two but we had the all-important last bowl. It would come down to this last bowl as the opposition converted the head to hold three with one bowl remaining. Unfortunately Male was unable to reduce the margin and a one shot loss was the damage. An unfortunate end for such a positive run and some quality bowls played.
Also being played today (and it was very remiss of me to not mention this yesterday but I just plain missed that it was on) was the Knockout of the Women’s Fours. Tasmania had four representatives spread out across two teams. Rebecca Van Asch was skipping a star studded team with Anne Johns, Claire Turley & Lynsey Clarke rounding out the team. Our predominantly Tasmanian team was Candice Hodgetts, Deb Lee, Kim Saunders and honorary Tasmanian Rosie White.
After losing in the singles yesterday by 1 shot, Van Asch wouldn’t have thought that today could have got any closer. But it did. Locked at 13-13 after the last end, an extra end was required to separate the two teams. Once again, the luck couldn’t quite go Van Asch’s way, dropping a shot and being eliminated from the event. Let’s hope things don’t happen in threes and Van Asch can have some luck go her way when she continued to defend the title she won last year.
Our other rink didn’t have the ideal start, dropping a 4 on the first end but they composed themselves and got back into the game including a 7 on the 7th end helping to build a solid lead and resulting in a 21-9 win. This now set them up against a QLD team of J Cottell, S Brady, S McKenzie & D Robertson. It would be a slow start in this game (again!), but thankfully this was not a sign of what was to come. 0-4 quickly became 5-5 and a conversion by White made it 8-5 and they never looked back. Eventually running out 16-5 winners. That win earnt them a spot in the Quarter Finals and a match against Karen Murphy and her formidable team of Kay Moran, Julie Keegan & Ellen Ryan. How formidable? They had just won their Round of 16 encounter 24-1 and were rightfully considered the favourites to take out this title.
A 2 on the first end meant we already more than 1 on the board but the brilliance of Murphy was on display in the second end when the only bowl in the head we had was removed and the score line read 2-6 after 2 ends! White found herself 6 down again on the 3rd end and was able to reduce the count to four but a 2-10 score was always going to be difficult to overcome against such quality opposition. Murphy was playing on the top of her game and never gave White a chance to make inroads into the deficit. The end result being 7-17 and unfortunate way to finish but the three women who will all play at Invermay this year, can be very pleased to reach the quarter finals of the Australian Open.
Tomorrow will see both the Men’s Pairs continue and the Women’s Pairs start their knockout section of the event.
There are six women in action for Tasmania, Peri Buckley & Christine Dowl (Sandy Bay) play L Cuthbertson (NSW) & K Pickering (Qld), Van Asch teams with Anne Johns (NSW) to play B Balchin & M Clayton (Qld), Lee & Saunders play J Johnson & W Usher (Qld) and Hodgetts & White take on E Saroji & S Ahmad (Malaysia). Our pairings are pretty separated in the draw with only the Lee/Saunders & Hodgetts/White combination a chance to play each other if they both win their three games tomorrow.
The Men’s Pairs looks to be a cracking encounter. Maskell and Schraner will be taking on Canadian International Ryan Bester and New Zealand International Gary Lawson. But for Schraner he will be treating tonight and tomorrow just like any other game; “Tonight we’ll just have a few drinks and relax, tomorrow we need to stick to the game plan and do our best.” As for having to face such quality opposition in the next round, “We can’t wait for the challenge!” Bester is fully aware of his opponents, “Gary and I played Lee in the final in 2008 and I regard him as one the top 10 players in Australia.” Bester’s home club is the venue for tomorrow’s match, Broadbeach but some of the home ground advantage may have been taken away from him; “I haven’t played at Broadbeach for 3 weeks now, so it’s an equal playing field. I think the crowd will get behind me a little bit during the match.” Let’s hope the crowd is entertained, that Bester doesn’t break any jacks (as he did today) and that we can see a Tasmanian player through to the quarter finals.
The Women’s Over 60 Pairs also start tomorrow and we wish all Tasmanian players taking part the best of luck!
By David Genford