State Championships – Fours Preview
Tomorrow, the 2nd January marks the start of the 2019 Gala week with many State Championships up for grabs. Players will be venturing between Kingborough, Buckingham, Claremont & host club Rosny Park until the 8th January, where there will be celebrations, heart breaks, friendships made and old friends reminiscing on that one time they should have won that game from 20 years ago.
We start the Gala Week with the Men’s Fours being played at Rosny Park and the Women’s Fours being played at Claremont. As I have done over the last few years, I will try and predict the outcomes of the sections. My strike rate is usually just above 50%, so if I don’t pick you to win, it’s probably a blessing! This year I have recruited gun Victorian bowler Michael Sims to also give a prediction, usually with a humorous twist. He is feeling much more comfortable doing so this year due to the fact he won’t need to play anyone!
Thirteen teams battling out four sections, meaning only the winners will progress, just how the traditionalists would like it.
Only three in this section but still some tough match ups. On paper the favourites would have to be Kim Saunders rink of Vicki Winley, Bree Godfrey & Candice Hodgetts but the Dover RSL team skipped by Carol Bannister will be no easy beats. When the third team has both Robyn Leggett & Sonia Martyn in the team, you can see that there will be no easy game! I’ll stick with Saunders who has had previous success in the State Fours event.
The Victorian says: Kim Saunders, after initiating a ‘youth first policy’ (not sure where VW fits in here) should come up trumps and is my pick to go all the way.
If you thought the first section was tough, it doesn’t get any easier in the second section. The three skips are Rosie Geeves, Lyn Triffitt & Rae Simpson, all quality bowlers keen to work through to the Semi Finals. It will have to come down to who sets up the heads the best and I think Triffitt may have the advantage with Lauren Banks, Glenda Fielding & Kelly Mundy-Furley. I was very impressed with the way Banks bowled at the National Champion of Champions and if she draws like she did that day, Triffitt will have an armchair ride. The Buckley sisters for Simpson & Best/Tanner/Page for Geeves will be out to make sure Triffitt will be having to do some work. Triffit my selection.
The Victorian says: This section is so evenly matched that the bye might sneak through to the next round! Rae Simpson has Buckley’s chance (pun intended) so I’m going with Triffitt who has the two most in form players in the state in herself and Lauren Banks.
The last of the sections with a Bye, Section 3 seems wide open. Jenny Tirant has been in good form and teams up with Vicki Philp, Jeanette Lane & Julianne Purcell, a mixture from a few clubs and may go in as slight favourites. Janet Rutherford is always keen and I think this may be her first go stepping up to skip (although the teams can change the order from what they submitted online) and will be keen to show that she can play in this position. The dark horse in the section is Lynn Barlow who is playing with Ann Hinkley & two players to be confirmed. If Ann has taken to the game anything like her husband Keith, then this section is in trouble. I might be biased, but I’ll go with Rosny Park’s Tirant.
The Victorian says: When the registration papers read TBA for the front 2 it means 1 of 2 things: either they’re scratching to find a team or they’ve got a few secret weapons up their sleeve. I’ll opt for the latter and say Lyn Barlow in an upset over Jenny Tirant.
The only group of Women that will have to play three games in a day, and it looks to be a section featuring 15 players from the North & predominantly the North West. The team that catches my eye straight away is skipped by Alison Venn. Venn herself is a top player but lead Jorja Maughan, recently picked up player of the series against Victoria, will be tough to get on top of. Add Bronny King & Dee Harman to the team, you have a four who could go on to win the whole thing. It won’t be straight forward with Maxine Monson bringing an experienced team of Sophie Fletcher, Madge Strochnetter & Judy Gurr who may be able to bring some guile to their games. The teams skipped by Jenny Grandfield & Rose-Anne Howard-Smith are not out of the running by any means. I’ll stick with Venn for the section.
The Victorian says: Jenny Grandfield will want to hope her lead Annie Lewis has recovered from her New Year’s celebrations in time. I have my doubts she will and as a result will go out on a limb by picking the stacked team Alison Venn has put together.
The Men have 22 teams over 6 sections, meaning 2 teams will get through as the lucky losers. Last year, the winners of the event came through from 2nd in their section, so you can’t write them off.
I haven’t studied the other sections as I write this, but is this the group of death. You have the defending champions skipped by Peter Bannister, David Minns has taken three quality players under his wing, Luke Richardson, claimed by the Advocate as the State’s top bowler, playing with guns Connor Munnings & Cameron Griffiths (plus Mick Sweeney who must have paid their entry fee to get in this rink) plus Isaac Maughan who is keen to become the youngest skip to take home the State Fours title. This could be the section for the spectators. I think Richardson will take the win but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Minns go through as a lucky loser and maybe even meet Richardson in the Final!
The Victorian says: Gee what a section this is! David Minns is a fish out of water with a trio of youngsters in front of him, but they should be good enough to carry the old fella deep into the competition.
I think this section may be reduced to three teams due to a family bereavement in the New Norfolk team, our thoughts are with those affected. This leaves Hinkley, Jesenkovic & Ormerod. Ormerod has been on FIYAH (sic) since moving to Dover RSL and taking on a skips role, I think I saw him post that he has won 11 of the 9 games he has played in he is going that good! Jesenkovic has been getting some experience skipping for North Hobart this year but it has been Hinkley that has impressed me this season. He forced his way into the Sandy Bay team last year and is now a regular. He tore it up against me when he played at Rosny, so the green will hold some fond memories. Even with 2 TBC’s in his line up, I’m going to pick Hinkley to win the section.
The Victorian says: Rick Ormerod couldn’t skip a rope let alone a fours team capable of making it through the sectional play. I’ll take Jesalenko and his team of quiet achievers.
This has to be Schraner’s section to win. He has a top team with B Johns, J Appleyard & McMullen and will probably enter the tournament as favourites. Now the other three teams may not like the draw they are in, but with two lucky losers progressing, they must work hard to keep the score close against Schraner and win their other two games. John Sutcliffe is another to add the TBC’s to his rink, but he always does well in sectional play, especially when I ignore him, he’ll obviously lose all three games now. So Schraner to win, Sutcliffe for 2nd for mine.
The Victorian says: Schraner. Next.
A very intriguing section. The Buckingham team who is down as being skipped by Kevin Raby, will probably be skipped by Darren Beattie but it will be interesting to see where Michael Taylor plays as he usually skips too. I give them a chance as I rate Beattie as a bowler but I think they will find it tough against the other two teams. The Baker brothers team up with Longford team mates Joey Thomas & Matty Jackson. I wonder if they have decided on their order, all four could skip, our Victorian would probably say none of them can lead but I rate their chances. The game against Gene Ayton’s rink of Anthony Rowe, Grant Wakefield & Tristan Bakes will probably decide this section. I think I’ll have to lean toward the Longford 4.
The Victorian says: The Longford boys are the strongest on paper but they’ll all want to skip so that rules them out. I’ll take Ayton and co to jag a couple of convincing wins and pass with flying colours.
Brad Carver brings in a young front end with the two Seabourne boys and this type of event will be great for their continuing journey in bowls. Roger Dale as their three is a perfect selection, a consummate professional who will provide great advice and some consistent bowls for Carver. They have two tough opponents and will need some luck to win the section. Josh Mabb has been listed to skip but I have some inside information (I’m in the team) that Scott Summers will be skipping, and the front of Paul Williamson & Josh Mabb will provide some solid starts for Summers. The main opposition will come from previous State Singles winner Taelyn Male. He is joined by Tom Westlake, Jake Wyllie & the always impressive Jarrod Long. I think the back ends are pretty even, so I’ll give Summers the section based on the front end he has put together.
The Victorian says: Two horse race here. I have to pick Mabb as he has Genford playing for him and he won’t publish my comments if I don’t pick him.
The obvious favourite has to be Timmy Douce. He has teamed up with Jason Douce, Luke Douce & Greg Douce (Ok, it’s Lane & Turner in the front end) but any team with Tim Douce as the skip has to be a chance. Sometimes the motto of live by the sword, die by the sword, will give some teams an opportunity but often it is Timmy that is putting the opposition to the sword. David McLean can also never be written off and will be a chance to get through as a lucky loser whilst a Facebook team entered by Darren Fielding could surprise whilst we do actually have a team with the same surname with the Sculthorpes of Kingborough having a game together. The sentimental in me wants to pick the Sculthorpes but I have to select Douce.
The Victorian says: Far from the easiest to pick this one. Toots Hoffman playing 3 for Fielding looms as a real threat, however Tim Douce always manages to find his way to the finals in this discipline and you’d be mad not to pick him again.
Good Luck to all players!
By David Genford