Fairy tale Complete – Schraner crowned National Champion!
Lee Schraner has become the second Tasmanian player to win the National Champion of Champions in an action packed last day of play from the Darwin Bowls and Social Club.
Destiny was always out of Schraner’s hands, he just had to win his two games and hope it was enough. After sitting in 7th after 3 rounds, a chance at victory was enough but could it possibly come true? Games against Kurt Brown (Qld) & Barrie Lester (Vic) would decide the days play.
Schraner was on fire in the mornings play, dominating against Brown and holding a strong lead. Shots up would prove to be very handy in the later stages of the tournament and a 15+ win was on the cards. Brown fought back well at the end of the game but a 21-11 score line moved Schraner up one spot to 2nd overtaking Lester who lost to NSW’s Jono Davis. This left a mouth-watering last round of play. The scenario was quite simple, Clive Adams from Western Australia was playing home town player Trystan Smallacombe. If Adams won the title was his and Schraner/Lester were playing for Silver. If Adams lost, the Schraner/Lester match was for Gold! A loss for Schraner or Lester would see them drop to 4th or 5th, it was all on the line in the last round of play!
Bowls Australia live streamed the Adams/Smallacombe match and for all the Tasmanian supporters watching, fingernails were chewed, everything was crossed and we watched with baited breath. The matches looked to be going to plan for Tasmanian viewers, Smallacombe had a decent lead, Schraner had his nose in front and a National title was on the cards!
Adams couldn’t be ruled out, he picked up 3 shots on multiple occasions and put himself back in with a chance. Smallacombe had never had so many Tasmanian supporters before and played some beautiful bowls to draw the shot or to convert the head. He held his nerve and defeated Adams. The Schraner/Lester match was now for Gold, Adams had guaranteed Bronze with Jono Davis trying to defeat Wayne Reudiger (SA) to take the silver away from Adams. Whilst all this was happening Schraner had kicked away from Lester. It was his gold medal to lose. At 20-13 Schraner was going to have last bowl on multiple ends to win the title but he wouldn’t need it, a resting toucher wasn’t moved and Schraner picked up 1 and the title was his! The sigh of relief from Tasmanian shores was heard from the Mainland. Davis took Silver, Adams the bronze.
Schraner becomes the second player from Tasmania and Rosny Park to win this title. Ron Brooks won it in 1980 and 37 years later Schraner follows suit, a unique double for the Eastern Shore club from Hobart.
This was the third time Schraner had played in the Champion of Champions after winning the Victorian title twice previously. On both occasions the tournament was played of two sectionds of four, leaving Schraner runner up in his section twice. Not this time. Schraner was very emotional after the game but took some time to respond to some questions. After the first game, there was a chance, “When I won the first game I knew that I was a chance to win a medal. A loss against Barrie though and I was empty handed. I was focused on just playing well.” When confronted with playing Lester I wondered how much he would concentrate on the Adams game; “Bazza (Lester) is the best in the business and that’s why he is number one. He has had an insane season. I did peak over a couple of times but if Clive came back and won he would have been a very worthy winner.”
At the end of the day, there can only be one winner, “It certainly was my day. I won all of my games over the last 2 days but everything fell my way with results. In the end though, everyone played each other once and it was one tight competition.” The reaction after the final match was captured on the live stream but was Schraner thinking? “My initial feeling was NO WAY! This can’t be happening. This is why we play bowls! I was very emotional. It’s been a horrific winter health wise for me so this is a result no one could have possibly anticipated, including me.” Now Schraner gets to represent Australia once again, something he has been striving for over the last few years, “Wearing green and gold is the pinnacle of any sport. This may be my last chance so I’m hoping I can make the most of it.”
Schraner will now play in the World Champion of Champions, held in NSW at the St Johns Park Bowls Club, October 29th to November 5th, 2018. Maybe Bowls Tas South could give Rosny Park a weekend off to ensure a big supporter base goes along to watch!
Schraner’s week of bowls hasn’t finished yet. He is on the red eye, arriving back in Hobart Saturday morning to play in the Eastern Shore Derby against Beltana. The conditions might be a bit slower and cooler.
In the Women’s side of the draw, the fairy tale continued with Collen Orr from the Northern Territory taking the title despite a Round 7 loss. It was the year of the small state & territories and Orr will also have the chance to represent Australia. She was the only female to end with 4 wins, playing consistently well on the synthetic green.
Congratulations to both Orr & Schraner, we can’t wait to see how they do against the best in the World!
By David Genford