2021 Open State Fours Champions - Jack McShane, Michael Clarke, Peter Harry and Shawn Thompson (Merrylands)

2021 Open State Championships – Day 10 Wrap

by Billy Johnson

After ten days of brilliant bowls at Ettalong Bowling Club, the 2021 Bowls NSW Open State Championships have come to a close. The Open State, Senior and Fours Championships finished off the event, and the competitors certainly did not disappoint. Congratulations to our newest Open State champions:

Open State Fours

Jack McShane, Michael Clarke, Peter Harry and Shawn Thompson (Merrylands)

Open Senior Fours

Terry Hughes, Garry Murphy, Billy Constantine and Tony Shoebridge (Bateau Bay)

Open Reserve Fours

Alex Milgate, Garry Raines, Dylan Marchant and Noel Raines (Gilgandra)

A Tale of Two Halves in Open State Fours Final

Merrylands have overcome a slow start to claim the Open State Fours Championship in another tense and tight finish. Kurri Kurri led 10-1 through some brilliant play, putting Shawn Thompson and his Merrylands team under considerable pressure. Unphased, the Magic worked their way back into the match, levelling the scores 11-11 after 12 ends.

It wasn’t until the 15-end mark that Merrylands hit the lead for the first time, up 14-12. Shots were hard to come by for both teams, with eight ends killed across the match. Once again Shawn Thompson’s forehand drive was in form, with the Merrylands skip rarely off target.

Kurri Kurri refused to lie down and only trailed by two shots heading into the final end. Michael Clarke was peppering the jack in the second-half of the match from the second position and did the same on end 21. It left Nathan Dawson match-down, and with one bowl to go he killed the end, keeping Kurri Kurri’s hopes alive. On the replayed end though he could not emulate that feat, missing narrowly with his last two, leaving Merrylands to claim the win and the 2021 Open State Fours Championship.

For young Jack McShane (who is still a junior) and Shawn Thompson, they have finished their week with two Open state titles – the Pairs and the Fours. Congratulations must go to them, their Merrylands team and all the competitors who made the Open State Fours Championship so successful.

Gilgandra Too Strong For Gunnedah in All-Country Affair

Before the Open Reserve Fours final had even started, both the Gilgandra and Gunnedah teams were the pride of their towns. Not only had they played well enough to qualify for the final, but they competed with a level of spirit and enthusiasm that made their matches a pleasure to watch.

Gilgandra jumped out to a 7-2 lead and maintained a decent buffer throughout the match. At the 14-end mark they were 16-6 in front and forcing Gunnedah to manufacture multiples to stay in touch. Unfortunately for Gunnedah, their attempts to keep pace with Gilgandra didn’t work out, with Gilgandra running away 24-9 victors.

Despite the loss, it was a championship to remember for the Gunnedah side who incredibly had four members from the same family competing. Skip Caleb Cameron had his sister Ella at third, uncle John at second and mum Jo leading. It is fantastic to see the team making the most of the Open Championship format and turning the event into a family affair.

Congratulations to the Gilgandra team, and in particular skip Noel Raines who now has an Open Reserve Fours Championship to go with the Reserve Singles Championship he won back in 2018.

Hometown Heroes Claim Open Senior Fours

Bateau Bay have saved their best performance for the Open Senior Fours final against Westport, where they were on fire from start to finish. Leading 8-3 in the early stages, they were up for the battle against the experienced Westport side which featured four players who had all previously won a State Senior Championship.

In the middle stages of the match, Westport attempted a minor comeback, reducing the deficit to five shots at the 14-end mark. Entering the final stages the Bateau Bay side again hit their strides, and potentially buoyed by the boisterous home crowd support, piled the pressure on Westport to take out the match 21-14.

The win was particularly sweet for Tony Shoebridge, who only a couple of days earlier fell agonisingly short of featuring in his first Open State Senior final after being pipped at the post 31-30 in the Open Senior Singles semi-final. The win in the Open Senior Fours means that he won’t go home empty-handed and caps of a successful week for himself and his team.

Click here to view the 2021 Open State Championship Results