Tasmania claim Men’s & Women’s Series vs the ACT!
Both Tasmanian teams have been able to enjoy their nights after clinching both the Men’s & Women’s series in Day 2 of the 3 Day series against the ACT. The Men entered the day 2-0, needing one test to secure the series, whilst the women were locked at 1-1 and needed to claim both matches, let’s have a closer look as to what happened.
Test three for the Men saw the following match ups; Lee Schraner vs Mark Ebsworth, Luke Richardson vs Rob Craven & Mark Nitz vs Sean Robertson. The rinks were unchanged for Tasmania, playing with Schraner was Josh Mabb, Cameron Griffiths & Rob McMullen, with Richardson was Josh Appleyard, Aaron Jago & Lachie Sims and with Nitz were Josh Walker-Davis, David Gamble & Taelyn Male. I don’t have as much information on this game as I was sent the 4th test cards twice, but that was mainly my fault as I told the Match Manager they were fine, only to discover they weren’t, but I’m not calling him at 1am to ask for some new photos!
So the abbreviated version of the 4th test is that the Men had the upper hand early but the ACT were never far away. Robertson had the upper hand over Nitz, leading 12-4 but this was being cancelled out by Schraner who was leading 16-4 and Richardson who had a 5 shot lead of his own. Our Men needed to maintain this lead and the series would be theirs. Not if the ACT had anything to do with it, the margin was reduced to 2 with Nitz not being able to get off 4 and Richardson now being tied at 13. The ACT now had their backs up and took the lead after 41 ends, Richardson dropping a 4 on the 15th end and it was Game On! It was the next few ends that proved crucial for the Men. Richardson picked up a 6 to lead 19-17, Nitz won his 2nd end in a row and trailed 6-16 & Schraner kept picking up shots leading 19-5 and Tassie now led by 6 with 19 ends remaining. This lead would continue to build; 12 shots with 14 to go, and with 4 ends to go the lead was 13, Richardson had finished with a 22-20 win, Schraner would drop 5 shots in the last 2 ends to still win 29-15 and Nitz ensured that the ACT couldn’t pull off the comeback, reducing his margin to 8, 11-19. The Men could celebrate as it was 3-0, an unassailable lead!
The Women had a different game entirely. The match ups were as follows; Courtney Hobbs vs Margaret Bacchetto, Bec Van Asch vs Ruth Moore & Candice Hodgetts vs Sharon Harmer. The women were also unchanged and the players playing with our skips were; Maureen Zoon, Bronny King & Lauren Banks for Hobbs, Alison Venn, Jenny Tirant & Jorja Maughan for Van Asch & Kelly Mundy-Furley, Kim Saunders & Lyn Triffitt for Hodgetts. It’s worth pointing out that both Banks & Maughan are still eligible for Juniors and are playing 3, a great experience for them that will help build their game for years to come. Our Tassie team were out of the blocks very quickly, Hobbs was leading 7-1 after 5 ends, Hodgetts led 8-3 after 5 ends and it was Van Asch who had the close game, tied at 3. The ACT started to get some scores on the board, but they were being lulled into a false sense of security. Before Moore knew what to do, Van Asch had built a lead of 9 shots thanks to consecutive pick-ups of 4, 3 & 4. At the same time, Hodgetts couldn’t lose an end. Harmer was stuck on 6 for 11 ends, with Hodgetts leading 25-6 after 18 ends. And it was all Tasmania as Hobbs was also dominating, having a magical run of 3, 3, 3, dropped a 1, 4, 3, 5 and she had a 29-5 lead! This match was all over with 15 ends to go if not earlier. Hobbs would only drop 8 ends, 7 singles and a 2 to win 35-9, Hodgetts lost the last 3 ends after her 11 consecutive ends to still win 25-11 and it was Van Asch that was tested late, especially when she dropped a 5 and a 4 on the last end but still walked off the green with a 25-19 lead and the girls were full of confidence and had a 2-1 lead.
The fourth test for the women saw Van Asch play Harmer, Hodgetts play Bacchetto & Hobbs play Moore. The ACT side were keen to come out and prove that the 3rd test loss of 85-39 was an aberration. And that they did. The Tasmanian team knew this was not going to be the easy ride they had in the morning for a very early point in the game. All 3 rinks were behind early and the ACT had a 12 shot lead after 18 ends. The game then went through a period where neither team could pull away from the other. Slowly the Tassie girls were pulling back the margin but none of the rinks could find the lead. When all rinks had played 12 ends, Van Asch was down 8-12, Hodgetts was tied at 9 & Hobbs was trailing 9-12, the 12 shot lead had been reduced to 7. On the 13th end the ACT took back their double digit lead picking up scores of 4, 3 & 1 and it was looking more and more like a do or die 5th test on Tuesday. But then the momentum switched. Van Asch won 10 shots in 3 ends, Hodgetts picked up 6 shots in 2 ends, as did Hobbs, the Tassie Tigers had hit the front and were now the ones being chased. Van Asch continued her strong form having another bout of 3 ends where she would pick up 9 shots and led by 9 with one end to play. Hodgetts wasn’t having the same success as Van Asch and Bacchetto was keeping ACT in the match winning 8 shots over 4 ends, leading 20-18 with one end to play. Hobbs was locked at 17 but on the penultimate end picked up a 5, much to the pleasure of the onlooking crowd. The ACT needed to pick up 12 shots in 3 ends and despite Van Asch dropping a 4, it was a bridge too far and it was time for our girls to celebrate the series win!
Van Asch was very pleased after the game, “We’re stoked to wrap up the series. We’re really going through a rebuilding phase at the moment and it’s been too long for us since we won an overall test, let alone a series, so this has been a great series for our women!” Van Asch has had some time off and was asked about what it was like to be back with the team? “It’s been great to be back on the green after 2 months off on maternity leave. I’ve been chomping at the bit to get out there and get back on the green so to do it in the Tassie colours has been great.” Van Asch was very impressed with the way her fellow skips have played in the first four tests, “Courtney and Candice have really stepped up skipping their rinks. It’s really awesome to see them maturing into those roles.”
The afternoon match for the Men was the first of two dead rubbers to be played between the two teams, but it’s not very often that a Tasmanian team has a chance to whitewash an opponent. A quick look at the game saw the following match-ups (Ok, so it turned out not to be a quick look as I thought the following was the 3rd test and not the 4th test, so instead of deleting, here is some bonus extended coverage of the 4th test); Lee Schraner vs Rob Craven, Luke Richardson vs Sean Robertson & Mark Nitz vs Mark Ebsworth. The ACT came out firing hoping to avoid a clean sweep, Craven led 3-2 after 4, Robertson led 10-3 after 5 & Ebsworth led 5-1 after 4. Tasmania started to make their move when Schraner, who has been playing this series in a Moon boot, picked up a 6 and Nitz a 3 and the lead had been dramatically reduced. Richardson couldn’t take a trick and continued to lose ends but from ends 6 to 9 he only dropped one every end and sometimes valuing second shot can be more important from a team perspective. The ACT had the momentum as Schraner & Nitz couldn’t cover Richardson and with approx. 30 ends played the ACT led by 10 shots. And then the momentum changed. Schraner went bang picking up 2, 3, 4 & 4 shots in consecutive ends to now lead 22-8! Richardson after losing 8 consecutive ends, won the next 4 and the margin in his rink was back to 4. At the same time Nitz won 3 of his 4 ends including picking up a 5 to now lead by 5, it was advantage Tasmania and a 13 shot lead, a swing of 23 shots in approximately 12 ends. With 24 ends remaining all 3 matches were seeing the skip with the last bowl win the end, no-one could string ends together. Schraner & Richardson would both drop 4 shots on the 18th end and the ACT had a glimmer of hope to keep the 4th & 5th tests alive. Nitz kept the ACT at bay in his rink, winning 7 of the last 10 ends and winning 20-14. Richardson did what was needed for the overall board and kept winning ends to keep his margin close, ending up losing 16-22. But it would be Schraner’s rink who would put the score on the board, ending up taking the rink win by a margin of 10 shots, 28-18. The end result was 10 shots and the ability to still win 5-0 was on the cards.
At the end of the days play Lee Schraner was kind enough to give us some of his time. The first question was how it had been playing in a Moon Boot? “The Moon Boot is making it hard!” And on some of the players that he has been impressed with to them into this position? “Rowdy (McMullen), Cam (Griffiths) & Mabby (Mabb) have been burning it up on the green, they should be very happy with how they have been playing.” And finally whether the team were able to relax on Day 3? “There is a goal to clean sweep. We haven’t done that in so long.” I would argue it might not have been done before. Whilst I go back and write something for the 3rd test, you can know that our Two Tasmanian teams have done us proud and if you are in the Launceston area, get along and watch these teams play Wednesday morning and see some stars of the now and the future!
By David Genford