Van Asch into final, Schraner out & Bruggy wins!
It’s been a big couple of days for Tasmanian bowlers and future Tasmanian bowlers! Rebecca Van Asch is through to the Pairs Final with Anne Johns, Josh Mabb, Robert McMullen & Lee Schraner joined with Geoff Maskell to make the semi-final of the Fours, Schraner and Maskell also made the semis of the Pairs & Kingborough & Tasmania’s new recruit Amelia Bruggy won the Fours title, making it a back to back performance for her team.
Let’s start with Van Asch (Invermay) who has given herself a golden opportunity to defend her Australian Open crown with good friend Anne Johns. They had a tough semi-final match against Tiffany Brodie (Vic) & Chloe Stewart (Qld) who had won the Fours title last year and would be playing in the Fours final again after this match concluded. Johns & Van Asch got out to a dream start, leading 8-0 and looking very strong. Stewart got on the board and at 11-4, it still looked to be going Van Asch’s way. As expected, the young opposition was never going to lie down, bringing the difference down to 2 shots and it was game on. This game proved to be one of momentum as Van Asch strung ends together and to pull away again at 16-9, only to see the margin once again reduced to 2 with one end to go. Brodie & Stewart had momentum on their side when they counted but Van Asch had the last bowl and the belief that she could decide the match. As it turns out, the last bowl wasn’t required, one shot to Van Asch was enough to make it into the final. Not only is that a chance of back to back glory but it sets up a rematch of last year’s game. Ellen Ryan (NSW) & Julie Keegan (Qld) are the road block trying to stop success for our pairing and a fair road block they are. Ryan was successful in winning the Australian Open Singles this year and was also the Runner up in the Fours. Ryan is the inform player of the tournament and Keegan has already stopped previous Tassie teams in their tracks, it’s a formidable match-up but one that has been beaten before.
Lee Schraner (Rosny Park) has had a very busy event and although he may not be happy with how it all finished, it’s been an amazing run for both him & Geoff Maskell. Yesterday, the two were joined by Josh Mabb (Buckingham) & Robert McMullen (East Launceston) to play in the Quarter Final of the Fours. The team got off to a steady start and lead 6-3 after 7 ends. The next end proved to be the crucial end of the match. Schraner played a great conversion shot and picked up a 5, taking the score line to 11-3 and a margin that never really looked like being challenged. The opposition picked up their own 5 late in the game but it still wasn’t enough, through to the semi-final for our team.
The reward for making a Semi Final of the Australian Open? A match against one of the best players in the world, Alex Marshall, joined by current or ex Scottish Internationals in Ryan Burnett, Darren Burnett and Paul Foster. At 0-6 things didn’t look great, this isn’t a team you can give a 6 shot head start to. And at 1-11 things weren’t looking much better. But our boys weren’t prepared to let a disaster happen and fought hard to get back into the game. Consecutive multiples got us into the game and with 5 ends to go it was 6-13, hard to win but not impossible. The Scot’s weren’t going to give the boys any easy chances, 6-14, 8-14, 8-15 and with 2 ends to go we needed a score to keep the faith of a come from behind win. One shot wasn’t enough but the last end started to work to our advantage and an opportunity was created. Schraner had a chance to make 7. It would have to be perfect and it almost was, but today was not our day. The end result 12-15, far from disgraced but those first few ends came back to bite us.
Onto the Pairs Semi Final for Maskell & Schraner. The game had to be delayed, just to give our players a chance for a break and something to eat. Their opponents were Victorians Joshua Thornton & Barrie Lester. Lester, a current jackaroo was skipping and Thornton, an Australian Para-Sport representative was leading. It was a great match and can be viewed on the following link (starting from the 8th end)
LIVE ALERT ????! We have the Men's Pairs semi final between East Shepparton Bowls Club's Josh Thornton and Mulgrave Country Club's Barrie Lester taking on Geoff Maskell from Paradise Point Bowls Club and Lee Schraner from Bowls Tasmania and Rosny Park Bowls Club. We join the action in the 8th end with Lester leading 5-3.
Posted by Bowls Australia on Tuesday, 20 June 2017
If you’re a bit busy to watch the link, the summary saw both teams playing well but Schraner worked his way to the lead and was 4 shots in front. The key end was when Lester trailed the jack for 4, Schraner was unable to reduce the count, he was half a bowl off sitting the shot bowl fat and claiming shot, only to see Lester draw a 5 and take the lead. It was a lead that Lester wouldn’t relinquish. The end score 20-13 to Lester, in reality a couple of costly bad ends that Lester took full advantage of. Thornton & Lester played the final today and went on to win 19-12, a very solid combination and deserved winners.
Amelia Bruggy is a name that the Tasmanian public should get used to. Moving to the state to study, Bruggy has signed up to the Southern Premiers Kingborough and will have to be a strong chance to be called into the Women’s State team. Why? She is a previous Australian under 18 representative and today she won the Australian Open Fours event and event she also won last year! Her team of Tiffany Brodie (Vic), Georgia White (Qld) & Chloe Stewart (Qld) defeated a team skipped by Karen Murphy (NSW) who was joined by Kay Moran (NSW), Ellen Ryan (NSW) & Julie Keegan. The match was an enthralling one with an extra end required after both teams finished on 13. The last end had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Stewart had 2 bowls left to Murphy’s one and with her first converted the head, thanks to a nice little rub that she apologised for. Murphy played her bowl, which looked tight but it to got a wick and trailed the jack for shot. It’s a cruel game and the pressure was back on Stewart. She played weight, looking for the bowl and they say things come in threes, she made contact with a front bowl, only to see it slide onto the shot bowl giving her the shot, the match and the championship. Let’s hope Bruggy can bring the same luck to the Tasmanian set up!
At the end of the day’s play, I was able to speak to Johns, Van Asch & Schraner to see how they were feeling after an action packed two days.
First Johns (another honorary Tasmanian) and how she was feeling making the Pairs final for a second consecutive year; “It feels great to have an opportunity to go back to back. It’s a tough tournament so to make the final two years in a row is extremely satisfying.” On what makes the Johns/Van Asch tandem such a good one; “Bec and I get on so well because we always have a lot of fun. We don’t focus too much on the negative if we have a bad end, we just worry about the end we are playing. We are also very good friends off the green so that always helps!” Earlier in the event Van Asch was quoted as calling Johns “Fresh” as she has been off the green recently due to a new arrival in the family, so what expectations did she have entering the tournament? “Bec won’t want to hear this, but a win probably wasn’t on the radar! I have had a few months off with the birth of our daughter Sophie, so I am definitely “fresh”. I have just been taking each game as it comes and have gradually been gaining some confidence and finding some rhythm. It also helps to have a good skipper!” What about Johns’ thoughts on their opponents in the final? “I am expecting a tough game in the final. Both girls are obviously playing well as they are in other finals. We can only focus on our game and hope that is enough.”
Van Asch was also in a very positive frame of mind. The first question was about how nervous she was as the opposition made a comeback in the semi-final? “Jimmy (Johns) and I always tend to be quite calm playing with each other, we don’t really let ourselves get stressed and just play one end at a time.” What about at 8-0, how do you mentally stay on top of the game? “We got out to a good lead but we know what good players Chloe and Tiff both are, so we knew they would come back at us. It was just important for us to focus and keep playing our game and not get too far ahead of ourselves.” Now the fact the game is live on TV becomes another factor or does it? “Jimmy and I are fortunate that we both have a lot of experience on the TV so I don’t think that will worry us. Julie and Ellen do as well. It’s a funny thing really, but once I start playing in those situations I just don’t really notice the crowd anymore.” Despite her personal success, I wondered if she had been keeping an eye on Amelia Bruggy and got excited to think of her wearing the Tasmanian colours; “It’s great to see Amelia go back to back with her team in the women’s Fours and it’s great to have her in Tasmania starting this coming season. No doubt this has probably put her on the selector’s radar when the next state squad selection takes place.” I dare say it has!
Whilst Johns & Van Asch are able to be buoyed by their success, Schraner has had a day to reflect and I thank him for taking the time to respond to my questions and be so honest about it. “I’m still very disappointed because I didn’t play anywhere near my own capabilities. I was very happy with the team performance and Geoff led exceptionally in the pairs.” Losing to Lester wasn’t easy but sometimes when we see an ex-team mate go on to succeed we can still feel happy for them; “I’m very happy to see Bazza (Lester) win because he has been so close so many times. What a way for him to top off his number one status!” It’s also easy to get lost on what’s happening butmany onlookers would love the chance to say they’ve met Alex Marshall let alone play against him; “Alex is a gentleman and a competitor. It was special to watch but we were just focusing on our game and how we could compete. He is all class, you have got to see it to believe it.”
For Tasmania, it’s just the Women’s Pairs to go but Australian Open has Over 60s, Under 18s, Men’s Fours & Singles to come. Van Asch will be live on Foxtel tomorrow, tune in if you can! All results, fixtures etc available here
An exciting day awaits!
By David Genford