Tassie Men take an early lead against Victoria
Today saw the start of the Annual Tasmania vs Victoria 5 test series, this year being held at the Deer Park Bowling Club in Melbourne. The Henselite Tigers will be pleased with their start to the series with honours split after the first test, with Tasmania taking a 1-0 lead in the Men’s event, whilst Victoria were able to reverse that result in the Women’s test.
Four players made their debut for the Henselite Tigers, with Josh Mabb & Aaron Jago playing for the Men & Amelia Bruggy and Bronny King playing for the Women. Patrick Smith was stepping up to the skips position with Mark Nitz unavailable for this series, but otherwise our skips brought some vast experience with them, especially Rebecca Van Asch who has had a stellar month, being named joint Tasmanian Athlete of the year and the crowning moment, being selected to play for Australia at the Commonwealth Games.
The Men got out of the blocks very well and took it right up to the Victorians. Smith was impressive early against Dylan Fisher, jumping out to a 6 shot lead after 9 ends whilst Michael Sims & Lee Schraner were locked in close battles. As the match progressed it would be Sims who would take the ascendancy for the Tigers. In his match against Barrie Lester, himself just picked for the Commonwealth Games, Sims pulled away to a 24-10 margin, giving the other two rinks room for error if required. Sims was receiving excellent help from his front end, state stalwart Chris Dudman and debutant Aaron Jago and ran away 11 shot winners. Schraner’s rink also found from late and was able to break away to a 21-11 margin. For Smith, the strong start was difficult to maintain, with Fisher coming back to win by 14 shots but the damage had been done & Tasmania won the test by 7 shots.
The Women had a very slow start and gave the Victorian team too much of a head start to pull back. Lyn Triffitt’s rink found the going very difficult with Anne Miles taking the victory by a margin of 33-9. Van Asch’s match against Tiffany Brodie saw both teams go on little runs, with Brodie breaking away early, before Van Asch to make some ground before Brodie extended her lead again further. The end margin of 31-18 to Brodie was a fair assessment of the game. The bright light for the Tasmanian team was the win to Candice Hodgetts’ rink. Hodgetts took on the Commonwealth Games bound Carla Krizanic and was able to lead against her for the entire match. Krizanic fought hard and brought the match back to one shot with a beautiful bowl on the penultimate end to pick up a four. Hodgetts was not going to be out done, with the rink win on the line, she was able to draw the shot with the last bowl of the match to win by 2 shots. Hodgetts summed up her feelings after the game, “As a rink, we are pretty wrapped with our efforts today. It took us a few ends to get the pace of the green but once we got going we combined well. I’m really happy with how Rae (Simpson) and I are combining, we are making a great team.” When questioned about the pressure of those last few ends, “We bowled well over the course of the game, and played some big bowls when we needed to at the end.” The focus for Hodgetts’ isn’t just about her rink it’s about the whole team, “We are all disappointed with the overall result but the 12 of us will bounce back tomorrow. I have every confidence that we have the ability to even the scores in the second test.”
I was also able to catch up with debutant Josh Mabb and asked him about what it was like to make his debut for the state, “I was extremely nervous until I got those first couple of bowls out of the way! It’s a massive change from State-wide Pennant to this level of bowls, if you slip up, they make you pay. It’s relentless but it’s awesome to see the quality of bowls that are being played.” The Deer Park facilities feature an undercover green which has impressed the players, “Deer Park was really good, and the facilities are awesome. The undercover green runs about 16 seconds and is very true.” If that’s the case, I encourage any of our Victorian readers to get along and watch some quality bowls over the next few days!
There are two tests to be played tomorrow (Thursday) with a late morning game starting at 10:30am whilst the third test will be a twilight fixture starting at 4pm. Friday’s tests will start at 9am & 1:15pm. I wish all of the bowlers the best of luck!
By David Genford