Schraner & Van Asch putting Tassie on the map
The Pairs tournament was the main focus of the daytime sessions of play and it would be two of our Tasmanians that would live to fight another day. Lee Schraner (Rosny Park) playing with Geoff Maskell (Qld) are through to the Semi Finals and Rebecca Van Asch (Invermay) & Anne Johns (NSW) have won their way into the Quarter Finals. We also had another team suffer a last end one shot loss and no players from the Women’s Over 60 Pairs qualify for the Knockout stage of the event.
Schraner & Maskell had a very tough encounter to start their day with both opponents having tasted success on the World Stage. Gary Lawson from New Zealand & Ryan Bester from Canada are tow tough players and the match proved enthralling. The score was close over the first half of the game and it wasn’t until the 16th end that Schraner could start to pull away and have a 4 shot lead, a margin they would keep for the remainder of the game winning 16-12. That set up an encounter with S Massey & P Watson from NSW, you may remember those name as they defeated Robert McMullen and Taelyn Male by one shot earlier in the tournament. In very testing condition, due to the wind, neither team could establish a dominance over the other but it would be Watson that would start to pull out to a narrow lead. A 5 to Schraner in the middle of the match put them right back in the hunt and it was a credit to our team that they had the score at 15-15 playing the last end. After the way our teams have fared on the last end, this was always going to be heart in mouth stuff and with both skips having one bowl to come, Schraner was down in the head. He trusted his draw and drew the shot, approx. a foot in front of the jack. With the flukey wind playing havoc, Watson decided the best option was to run the bowl out of the head. He missed by an inch and the game was over, Maskell & Schraner were through to the Semi Finals.
In the Women’s Pairs we had 6 players spread over 4 teams start the day in the Round of 32. The Invermay pairing of Deb Lee & Kim Saunders maintained their strong play and were never headed once they hit the lead early. They maintained a small advantage for most of the game but some multiple scores in the last few ends saw them run away 19-11 winners. They were now to play Ellen Ryan & Julie Keegan, two of the four players that had eliminated them in the Fours event.
Van Asch & Johns got off to a slow start and were behind 7-10 before picking up the next 8 shots to lead 15-10 and out the game back on to their terms. In fact, the opposition never scored again with Van Asch running out an 18-10 winner. This now meant another match up with Karen Murphy, who was teamed up with Kay Moran (NSW). This was going to give Murphy a red hot chance to exact revenge on Van Asch after their singles match earlier in the week.
Sandy Bay’s Christine Dowl and Peri Buckley were hoping to continue with their good form, particularly Buckley who also had a nice run in the Singles. It must have been the day for close matches as the difference in score was never more than a handful of shots to either team. Leading 14-13 with 2 ends to go Buckley dropped a shot, levelling the scores but giving our team the all-important last bowl. It would come down to said bowl but Buckley was unable to change the head, going one down and adding to the close defeats experienced by the Tasmanian crew over the two weeks so far.
The one game of the round that wasn’t so close was Candice Hodgetts (Buckingham) & Rosie White (Qld) who faced a very tough and in form Malaysian pairing. Despite some solid bowls from Hodgetts & White, their opposition simply put in better bowls and never really gave them an opportunity to get into the game and build some confidence. The end result was an 11-24 loss, a fair summary of how well the Malaysian duo performed.
This left us with two Pairs remaining. Lee & Saunders started off their quest for revenge well, picking up a 3 on the first end but the second end was sign of things to come with the 3 handed straight back and before you knew it, it was 3-13. Julie Keegan was playing very well and with Ellen Ryan leading and continually building the head, Keegan head opportunities on every end to either add or convert. Lee and Saunders fought back valiantly and brought the margin back to 6 but that was as close as it was to be before they bowed out 12-26.
That left all Tasmanian eyes focussed on the Van Asch & Murphy showdown. It would be too much to ask for a replay of the singles demolition but the crowd was also aware that Murphy not only wanted to improve on that result but reverse it. Four singles on the first four ends was a good signal that this was going to be a tough encounter and Murphy lead 3-1. Multiples were hard to come by and valued if they were won, the margin never far away from 2 with Van Asch still down 5-7 after 8 ends. A dropped single put Murphy 3 in front before Van Asch was able to play a crucial end picking up 5 and hitting the front for the first time in the match. With 4 ends remaining Van Asch lead by 4 but in the next two ends a dropped 4 and a pickup of 1 saw her lead by 1 shot with 2 ends to go. Surely this couldn’t go down to an extra end again for Van Asch! Thankfully not, a pressure relieving 3 shots on the second last made the margin 4 and enable Van Asch to focus on not losing a big score on the last end. And that she did, losing two but advancing to the Round of 16 to take on L Nicholls (NZ) & J Hogan (Qld).
The Tasmanian contingent couldn’t handle another close game and Johns & Van Asch made sure they didn’t get one. A convincing 20-9 win put the defending champs into the Quarter Finals. They next play the South African combination of N Neal & E Kruger. The Quarter Final line-up is a who’s who of Women’s Bowls. Tiffany Brodie & Chloe Stewart take on the Malaysian pairing of Khalid & Ismail, Ellen Ryan & Julie Keegan will play Kelsey Cottrell & Lynsey Clarke whilst Dawn Hayman skips a team against Carla Krizanic & Natasha Scott! Whoever wins this title, will have earned it!
After the days play I caught up with Schraner, Maskell & Van Asch who must have been satisfied with how the day played out.
Schraner on what will be a big day ahead for him tomorrow; “Well, first we have a big fours game (hopefully 2) and then pairs. It’s a huge day. My body is holding up well and Geoff (for a 66 year old) is doing us proud.” Maskell admitted “My knees are a bit sore but after a good rest tonight, I’ll be ready to go tomorrow.” Schraner will be taking on Barrie Lester, both of who have played many games together for Victoria; “Barrie and I have a huge respect for the way each other plays the game. He is having a stellar season and has a very good record of going deep at Aussie opens.” Maskell has been very impressed with the way Schraner has played, “He is a freak, pure and simple. He’s playing well and is always cool, calm and collected and just has this belief that he can do it. I might be hoping for a bit of rain, it’s why they call me ducky, but I’m looking forward to the fours as we have strong compatible rink and then the Pairs in the afternoon”
After the two close defeats in the last two days the question was put to Van Asch about how she handled those defeats; “Over the years I’ve learnt to only worry about what you can control. Obviously I was extremely disappointed with the singles and 4s, especially to lose them both in such a fashion. But that’s bowls and it was important for me to put that disappointment on the backburner really fast and get on with it. The bright side was that we still had the pairs to focus on.” And the next focus will be the South African duo, “We’ve come across the South African players at times during our international duties. We’re definitely expecting a hard match.” Speaking to Van Asch, it is obvious she has a great relationship with the player she calls Jimmy (Anne Johns), they were successful last year and playing some great bowls; “Jimmy and I have had our moments (in regards to playing well), we could certainly improve a little with our consistency. Jimmy is just coming back from maternity leave so she’s nice and fresh. We combine well together and we just have a lot of fun playing together which I think relaxes us. So fingers crossed we can keep going a little longer.” The Tasmanian supporters will definitely have their fingers crossed and be cheering loudly.
On to tomorrow’s play. As mentioned above, the Men’s Fours and Pairs take place, with the Women’s Pairs continuing on Wednesday. The full fours line-up is Josh Mabb (Buckingham), Maskell, Robert McMullen (East Launceston) & Schraner taking on C Edwards, B Baker, J Cook & D Morrison from NSW. A victory for either team will see them face an international team with either the Malaysians skipped by Abd Muin or the Scottish skipped by the one and only Alex Marshall.
At 2:30 Bowls Australia will be live streaming the Pairs match between Maskell/Schraner and Josh Thornton (Vic) & Lester.
For all results go to
For previous Bowls Tas articles go to
For the Mainland coverage, go to the Aus Open website
Good luck to all of our bowlers!
By David Genford