Open Champion of Champion Pairs Winners - Jay Breust & Dave Thomas (Malua Bay)

Malua Bay Win Extra-End Thriller in Open Champion of Champion Pairs Final

by Billy Johnson

Congratulations to Dave Thomas and Jay Breust (Malua Bay) on winning the 2021 Open Champion of Champion Pairs in a thrilling extra-end final against Craig Donaldson and Callum Murray (Engadine).

Thomas and Breust came into their semi-final clash against Halekulani in fine form having averaged a tick over 24 shots across their sectional matches while conceding an average of just over 10 shots per match. Playing quality opposition in Shane Gibbin and Josh Zephyr, themselves unbeaten through sectional play, Thomas and Breust knew the match was going to be tough.

The Malua Bay duo built a solid 8-1 lead after a steady start, and limited any scoring opportunities for Halekulani. In the end they prevailed 17-12 in a low-scoring affair.

Their final against defending champions Craig Donaldson and Callum Murray (Engadine) was destined to be a memorable match. Malua Bay followed a similar script to their semi-final match, jumping out to an early 6-0 lead after 5 ends. With both sides playing so well, scores were hard to come by, meaning that any sizeable lead on the scoreboard became crucial. Donaldson and Murray kept their cool while behind on the scoreboard, slowly working their way back into the match through some brilliant play to trail by just two shots near the halfway stage of the final.

Malua Bay then kicked away again, picking up scores of 1, 1 and 2 to lead by six. A pivotal moment came on the 17th end with Engadine trailing 12-9. Engadine drew superbly to hold four with Jay Breust playing his last. A slightly wide drive onto a plant removed Malua Bay’s closest bowl from the head allowing Engadine to claim six shots and jump ahead 15-12 with four ends to play.

It may sound cliché, but it is true that so many teams in this situation could fall away, but Malua Bay held their nerve to pick up a couple of shots across the final ends to send the match to an extra-end. The end was unsurprisingly tense, but it did not stop both teams from playing incredible shots. Engadine appeared to hold shot as Craig Donaldson prepared to play his last bowl from the third position. Despite holding, both he and Callum Murray knew the head had to be changed up. Donaldson’s last bowl was played well and hit the intended target, but an unfortunate result saw the jack trickle to the side to give Malua Bay the shot. From there, the shot remained to give Thomas and Breust the win.

Congratulations to Dave Thomas and Jay Breust on securing the title, and also to Craig Donaldson and Callum Murray who, heading into the final, had gone through 26 matches unbeaten!