The dream has been captured, the sacrifice has been worth it, April 9 2018 will go down as the day Kelsey Cottrell, Carla Krizanic, Rebecca Van Asch & Natasha Scott won gold at the 21st Commonwealth Games. And what a special day it was. All four women can walk away proud of their efforts and knowing that they contributed to this success.
The game was one of momentum swings. Usually the last bowl can be crucial but for both the Australian and South African teams they were able to win consecutive ends and wrestle back the advantage from each other. Van Asch & Scott were on fire early, turning a 0-3 start into a 9-3 lead after winning four ends in a row. South African skip Elma Davis was not going to be outdone and was key in getting their team back into the game. A 6 shot lead was whittled away until the South Africans would lead at the half way mark 10-9. The crowd was a little shell shocked but the Australian team continued to give them quality bowls to cheer and as mentioned before, another momentum shift saw Australia pick up 5 shots in 3 ends and the gold was within their grasp! The margin would be reduced to 2 shots but the penultimate end saw Australia pick up a high quality 3 shots to lead by 6 and you can almost sense the team starting to think the lead of 6 with one end to play was going to be enough. There wasn’t a lot of options for South Africa and defensive play from Australia saw them drop a 4 but there was no way that they were going to let a 6 be put on the score card, the gold medal was theirs!
When you look at the record books, you start to see how special this truly is. Before today only 21 Australians have won a Gold Medal in Lawn Bowls, through 9 disciplines. That number is now 25 players over 10. This is only the third time an Australian Women’s team has won Gold, following in the footsteps of the 1990 Women’s Fours team & 2006 Women’s Pairs team. For both genders, there hasn’t been a Gold Medal since that 2006 games. So despite what some armchair critics may think, an Australian team can’t simply turn up to an event and demand the gold, they are bloody hard to win and that makes the success so much sweeter!
For our Rebecca Van Asch, it’s the icing on top of the cake. After the disappointment of missing the 2014 team for Glasgow, Van Asch has fought hard to make the selectors take note. Success at events such as the Golden Nugget, the Australian Open & the Australian Indoors always kept her in the selectors eyes and to then win her second and third World Championships in 2016 showed the selectors she had the ability to perform at the highest level. In fact, this is the same team from those World Championships that won the Fours isn’t a coincidence. They work well together, play for each other and this was on show again today.
Krizanic, Scott & Van Asch will now focus on the Triples, whilst Cottrell will team up with Karen Murphy, both disciplines having started today and will be covered below.
The Women’s Fours Bronze Medal match also saw history with Malta winning their first ever Lawn Bowls medal. They defeated Canada 17-8. The team Rebecca Rixon, Rosemaree Rixon, Connie-Leigh Rixon & Sharon Callus are based out of Queensland and played the conditions well. How special for Rosemaree to be able to win a bronze medal with her two daughters!
The other medal event today was the Men’s Pairs. It would be the Welsh pairing of Daniel Salmon & Marc Wyatt who would come from 5-1 down to pick up one on the last end to win 12-10 to defeat the favoured Scottish pairing of Paul Foster & Alex Marshall. Wyatt had previously won a bronze medal in Glasgow for the Triples but will be very pleased to add a different colour medal to his collection. Neither Foster nor Marshall had previously lost a Gold Medal playoff, with Foster making it four medals after winning three gold previously, whilst Marshall has done one better with 4 gold in his cupboard.
To round out the history breaking day, the Cook Islands will be on the Commonwealth Games Medal tally for the first time ever after their Men’s Pairs team Aidan Zittersteijn & Taiki Paniani defeated Malta 17-11. This was the 10th Commonwealth Games Cook Islands had entered the Games and they will be celebrating hard this bronze medal!
Yesterday I incorrectly reported on the Para Sport Pairs. I was correct that the top 4 go through to the semi-finals, but I was unaware there was only one section of 6 teams. This meant that Australia needed a win to finish on top to play the team finishing 4th, but if they lost to Scotland, they would have to play Scotland again in the Semi Finals. Scotland started well, leading 10-2 after 6 ends but Australia picked up 8 shots in 2 ends to level the scores. Another 1 to Australia gave them the lead but Scotland would not allow Australia to win again running out 15-11 winners. This gives Scotland the psychological advantage heading in to tomorrow’s Semi Final. The other match will see South Africa take on Wales.
The Women’s Pairs got under way today. The Australian team of Cottrell & Murphy got off to a strong start defeating Zambia 24-5. This puts them into 2nd position behind the Maltese team who defeated Niue 29-9.
Here is a quick look at what is happening tomorrow
Men’s Singles – Scotland (Darren Burnett) vs Guernsey (Todd Priaulx)
Men’s Singles – Canada (Ryan Bester) vs Papua New Guinea (Matu Bozo)
Men’s Singles – New Zealand (Shannon McIlroy) vs England (Robert Paxton)
Men’s Singles – Australia (Aaron Wilson) vs South Africa (Petrus Breitenbach)
Men’s Fours – Scotland vs Singapore
Women’s Triples – Australia vs India
Men’s Singles – Australia (Aaron Wilson) vs Wales (Daniel Salmon)
Women’s Triples – New Zealand vs Jersey
Other Australian Games
Women’s Pairs vs Niue
Men’s Singles vs Norfolk Island
Women’s Pairs vs Malta
Semi Final – Para Pairs vs Scotland
Women’s Triples vs Canada
***Added for the later edition***
Aaron Wilson has started strongly in the Men’s Singles competition. He played two games and defeated Brendan Aquilina (Malta) 21-17 and Taiki Paniani (Cook Islands) 21-6. This puts him on top of his section with a shot difference of +19. Petrus Breitenbach from South Africa is also undefeated from two rounds and their clash at Midday will be crucial for who will finish on top of the section. The two game winners from the other sections were Shannon McIlroy (New Zealand) & Robert Paxton (England) in Section A, Ryan Bester (Canada) & Gary Kelly (Northern Ireland) in Section B, Darren Burnett (Scotland) & Muhammad Soufi Rusli (Malaysia) in Section C.
Van Asch has got off to a strong start skipping the Women’s triples side, winning 32-12 against Papua New Guinea (PNG). PNG actually lead 4-1 after 3 ends but Australia went on a 16-0 run to put the game beyond doubt. Canada also finished the day with one win but its India in 2nd with a better shot difference but have had one win and one loss.
The Men’s Fours team had an expected win against Botswana, winning 21-5. The surprise packet of their section could be India, who defeated South Africa 19-7. Their other opponents will be Norfolk Island who had a bye for the first round.
I have also made the same mistake (that I did in the Para Pairs above) in the Para Triples. I’m not sure why I thought there were two sections, but there isn’t. They were in a similar situation to the Pairs, playing against New Zealand where it was highly possible that they would play against each other in the Semi Finals. The Australian team took care of their opponents winning 16-11 but needed an England loss to finish on top of the section. England were taking on Wales who were yet to win a game and had lost every game by double digits. However, the Welsh saved their best for last and defeated the English team 15-13. This now means Australia will take on 4th place South Africa, who they defeated 13-10 in the sectional play.
Sectional Standings for Australian teams still playing sectional play
Australia 6 points (+19)
South Africa 6 points (+10)
Norfolk Island 3 points (+8)
Wales 3 points (+2)
Malta 0 points (-8)
Cook Islands 0 points (-31)
Malta 3 points (+20)
Australia 3 points (+19)
England 3 points (+2)
Papua New Guinea 0 points (-2)
Zambia 0 points (-19)
Niue 0 points (-20)
Australia 3 points (+20)
India 3 points (+10)
Canada 3 points (+4)
Fiji 3 points (+4)
Papua New Guinea 0 points (-38)
Australia 3 points (+16)
India 3 points (+12)
Norfolk Island 0 points (0)
South Africa 0 points (-12)
Botswana 0 points (-16)
Good luck to all of the Australian Teams!
By David Genford