Tassie Men secure the shield against the Vics!
The Henselite Tigers Men’s team have staged an impressive come back, to win the 4th and 5th tests against Victoria, taking the series win 3-2. It was an extraordinary day for our Men, who looked all but gone in the 4th test until the never say die attitude kicked in and the victory was secured.
This series win now means that the Men’s side currently holds the relevant shields against Victoria, South Australia, Queensland & the ACT, the only shield the men play for that they don’t have is the Alley Shield from the Sides Championships, where they finished second and were a jack rebounding out of the ditch from having that shield too! What a purple patch of form they are in! But let’s re cap on the day and hoe this eventuated before hearing from some of the players.
The 4th test saw neither side gain the early ascendancy. The overall score was consistently close as the teams battled for the win. It wasn’t until 42 of the 54 ends (The 4th & 5th tests would be 18 ends to ensure Tasmania made their flights at night) had been played that the Victorian team had jumped out to a 10 shot lead, with all three rinks having the advantage over the Tigers. With 5 ends to go, the series looked over, the Vics lead by 9 but then Lee Schraner’s rink stood up and put Tasmania right back into the game. You won’t be surprised that it was a ditch to ditch end, Schraner’s rink continued to draw shots and add to the count. Nick McIntyre was Schraner’s opponent and his rink couldn’t convert or change the head. All of a sudden Schraner was holding 6, McIntyre couldn’t change it with his last and the test was on for young and old! Thanks to some other good ends, Tasmania went into the last end three up, the master score board said two but Barrie Lester was aware he needed three against Michael Sims for the draw and the series. They could only get two and the Tassie team had won by one shot. It was all to fight for in the afternoon game. The end rink results were Schraner 17-13 McIntyre, Lester/Sims 15-15 & Dylan Fisher 18-15 Patrick Smith.
The last test saw a great start for the Tasmanian team, especially Michael Sims’ rink who jumped out to a 6-1 start. The overall board was looking in control and it was just a matter of not allowing the Vics an opportunity to get back into it. And when the Vics brought the margin from 12 down to 5, it looked they had the momentum. This team however, play with such a positive mindset and the knowledge that their best is good enough, that they didn’t let the Victorians sweep them aside. They fought back and wrestled back their dominance on this test. With 13 ends to play, the Tigers were 13 up and in the remaining ends, the closest the Vics would get was 9 shots as our skips converted heads and didn’t drop any big numbers. The last few ends saw the boys be able to enjoy the moment as the test was theirs! The end margin would be 22 shots with Patrick Smith picking up his first win of the series at the most crucial time, 24-10 over Nick McIntyre. Sims defeated Fisher 21-17 & Schraner def Lester 16-12 but the overall board was the only one everyone was looking at!
The women’s test were both dead rubbers but the Tasmanian team had their two best results. The 4th test would see the closets result to date, only going down by 10 shots. Candice Hodgetts won her match 14-13 against Carla Krizanic, whilst Lyn Triffitt lost by 5 against Anne Miles and Rebecca Van Asch lost by 6 to Tiffany Brodie. The 5th test would be a chance for the women to avoid a clean sweep and it would the most intriguing match of the series. The match started out very close, with the Victorians taking a slender lead after the first 20 ends but for one of the few times in the series, the Tasmanioan team got their noses in front, by 3 after 31 ends. The scoreboard then see sawed until Tassie lead by 8 with 14 ends to play. Victoria was keen to make it 5-0 and fought back hard, reducing the margin to 4 with 2 ends to play. Hodgetts would lose a 4 on the penultimate end, leaving the scores level. Lyn Triffitt would be on the green taking on ex-Tasmanian Makayla Gibson, who was making her skipping debut for Victoria. It would be Gibson who would get the upper hand, gaining 2 on the last end to lose by 1 on her rink but to win by 2 overall. Hodgetts lost by 1 to Brodie and Miles would defeat Van Asch by 2.
But it would be our Men that who would be doing the celebrating. After the game, I caught up with a few of the players to get their reactions.
Lee Schraner was a very proud captain; “It was a great series once again with so many tight matches. We are over the moon to win the French Holbrook shield. I’m proud of the team’s determination to want to win and how Tassie doesn’t just play for pride anymore. The whole side stepped up in the last test. We just wanted it so bad. What an awesome result for the apple isle!!!”
Test debutant Aaron Jago played very well from all reports and it is performances like his and Josh Mabb’s that highlight the depth in Tasmania’s bowling stocks at the moment. “I was pleased how I bowled, I did have Duddy (Chris Dudman) starring again, which does help! It’s such an unbelievable feeling to come from 2-1 down and then to win from almost nowhere in the 4th test!” I asked Aaron about what it was like to make his debut, “It was an awesome experience, I learned a lot and they are awesome guys to play with. I’m sure we will have a few beers along the line to celebrate our achievement.”
Despite playing most of his pennant in Melbourne, Michael Sims is still a bona fide Tasmania player and a future superstar if he isn’t already! I asked him first if he thought Tasmania approached games differently now than when he first started playing for the state, “I wouldn’t say we approach them any differently but during the game we all have the belief we’re always a chance of winning.” Sims was impressed with the debutants in the team, “Jago on debut was fantastic as was Mabby. Rowds (Robert McMullen) and Duddy as player of the series were both outstanding. I struggled personally but was better once I gave up swing weight and stuck to draw drive (which was better on the Deer Park surface).”
As Sims mentioned a joint player of the series was awarded with Chris Dudman & Robert McMullen given the nod. But I think all 12 players can exit the test series with their heads held high. The camaraderie in the team and the success they are having is a credit to the coaches and training processes they are going through to help make this happen.
The Women’s player of the series was also tied, with Erin Sesara joined by debutant Amelia Bruggy taking the award. Congratulations to both players.
A special thanks to Gene Ayton for his score updates through Facebook. The Tasmanian public was glued to their screens waiting to see how the teams were going and without this service, we would have been none the wiser, so thank you.
By David Genford