State Junior Championships – Day Five Wrap Up
By Ben Krikstolaitis
The Semi-finals of the fours looked like an enticing competition on paper. Upstarts Zone 7 featuring the famous Reese Finn-Young (Merimbula) alongside youngster Charlie McCudden (Tathra), Josh Allman (Merimbula) and Charles Grebert (Merimbula) against the powerhouse team from Cabramatta; Taylor De Greenlaw, Chanel Chakouch, Billy Waite and Ryan Klem.
On the rink next door, crowd favourites Zone 3; Tarnee Ingram (Manilla), Jacob Marin (Gunnedah), Blayne Cook (South Tamworth) and Timothy Thorning (Gunnedah) against a wonderful team of Jeremy Bourke (Greta Workers), Xander Webber (Miller Park), James Allerton (Greta Workers) and Koby Kattau (Greta Workers) from Zone 6.
Sadly, Zone 7 fell off early and never quite recovered. Zone 12 showing some real dominance and never let go of the lead. Catapulting themselves into the final in emphatic fashion.
A lot closer on the rink next door. Zone 6 kicked off to a really strong start and got the jump on zone 3 leading by seven shots early. But the grit and determination of Tim Thorning turned his team’s fortunes around bring the scores to ten all as the power flickered at the Warilla Bowls. After that, it was all Zone 3 with several multiple-shot scores they found themselves in the final.
Zone 12 versus Zone 3. City versus Country. Powerhouse club vs composite zone team. Klem vs Thorning.
Zone 12 kicked away. We could almost sum up the whole series with that statement. They’re a strong zone from a strong club. Lead Taylor De Greenlaw pushed her credentials as the best lead bowler in the junior division with an awesome display of draw and long-draw bowling. But on her tail, close all the time was Tarnee Ingram (Manilla) who followed up her amazing semi-final game with another great game.
Zone 3 were nearly there early. Nearly hitting jack, nearly sitting on jack, nearly getting the shot. But they weren’t quite there. Ryan Klem cleaning up every opportunity that Zone 3 created. Tim Thorning forced to play heavy shots continually, which, while deadly, don’t win game.
At the twelfth of fifteen ends the game broke open. Zone 3 were seven shots down and looking desperate but they scored a three. Then another three on the thirteenth and suddenly a game that looked like being in the bag for Zone 12 looked shaky.
A rescue and conversion from Ryan saved a multiple on the last end and, incredibly in the context of the game, the week and the championship, scores were level. At the start of the game we thought it would be close but after 11 ends we thought it was all over. But here we were at the end witnessing yet another monster contest of world standard.
The players, Taylor De Greenlaw, Chanel Chakouch, Billy Waite, Tarnee Ingram, Jacob Martin and Blayne Cook all put down spectacular bowls. Jack skittled around like a pinball and at the end of that, when it was all down to the skippers, they remained inseparable. Neither team could figure out who was holding shots no matter how many cross-fingered measures were attempted.
So it was down to the skippers. Neither player’s first bowl had much impact. Ryan was long. Tim was short. Ryan, having played more games this week than any other player put down a bowl that will live in his mind forever. It stopped inches behind Jack and took any doubt about who was holding shot away. One bowl left, Tim Thorning from Gunnedah.
It is like he was born for these moments. Days prior to this he used his last bowl to smash his way through Tom Rich’s bowls to claim the singles crown. His on shots had been deadly all week but he wasn’t lining up for this. He was tired, exhausted from a long championship and a long time from home.
But he looked up at the head as he lined up, a steely resolve in his eye and the concentration undimmed by lack of proper sleep. He delivered, drawing on the wide sweeping back hand, slightly narrow but with decent looking pace. His bowl rolled on, the flashing colours of the two-toned bowls showing the bowls slowing, slowing…slowing to a stop. It ceased all movement across the line but six inches, jack high. The players saluted, the crowd cheered and Zone 3 had won the championship.
Tim Thorning the obvious player of the championship taking home two of three gold medals but also etching his name into folklore by featuring in two of the greatest games played on NSW soil. Both of which he won.
The end of a State Junior Championship can feel like an odd affair to older bowlers. The juniors leave quickly to get home to normal life and school and friends. There’s no big party, no late night celebrations and dusty trips home the next day. Just another car trip and another tournament to look forward to.
But their clubs will be celebrating. Their zones will treat them as heroes. Their faces may well even be in the paper as anomalies to the usual media stereotype of bowls being a game for “old people”. Make no mistake, they’re all champions. Making it to this level is a massive achievement and they all should be proud. We at Bowls NSW are certainly proud of them. Congratulations to every single player.
For full results please click here