2022-23 State Championships Pairs Wrap
Article by Ben Krikstolaitis
The long game of our championships kicked off yesterday and continued into the finals today. The four bowl pairs format can be a marathon. Concentration is paramount and focused bowls win out the day.
Two days of this kind of play and it should have been enough to break anyone’s concentration but the final games in the series turned out to be the best of them all, with quality play dispersed throughout the five matches.
Open Reserve Pairs
There were two standouts at the end of sectional play, Stephen Sanders & John Kinsella of Fingal Bay and Allan Low & Dale Jeffery of Stuarts Point. Both teams winning three games and a score differential of over forty shots.
Michael Catling & Antonio Turcato (South Lismore) and Scott Bonthrone & John Lloyd (Lane Cove) scraped through with two wins and margin. A great performance for a city team and a country team who were excited to even attend. It may have been this positive attitude that helped them secure a spot in the semi-finals.
The semi-final matches were incredibly symmetrical. Both winning teams scored 17 shots over their opposition who scored 13. Allan Low & Dale Jeffery of Stuarts Point and Scott Bonthrone & John Lloyd (Lane Cove) both having wins and a chance at a State Championship.
The final was low scoring, close affair as these important matches often are. Neither team gave in and the final score showed a margin that belies the closeness of the game. The Stuarts Point team winning a great game and a very worthy championship.
Women’s Senior Pairs
Similar to the Open Reserve Pairs, there were two three-game winners in sectional play. Judith Scholz & Judith Brady (Port City) and Kathryn Limond & Raweang Namutwong (Charlestown) won their sections with aplomb and qualified for the second day of play full of confidence.
Wendy Constable & Susan Metcalf (Lithgow Workies) won through with two wins and a draw. A harder pathway for Barbara McCracken & Julie Sigsworth from the wonderful Sussex Inlet RSL Bowling Club who won two games and got through on margin.
The semi-finals were contrasting in their scores. The Charlestown ladies winning with a big score over the Lithgow Workies team who fought valiantly. On the rink next door, a close battle between Sussex RSL and Port City was epic to watch. Port City winning by three shots, 22-19.
The impeccably skilled pair from Charlestown picked up where they left off in the semi-final and blitzed the hard fighters from Port City to win the final 31-6. They’ll take their medals back to the recently upgraded Charlestown Bowling Club and celebrate as only bowlers can.
Men’s Senior Pairs
Three, three game winners in sectional play promised an impressive pair of semi-finals. The final winners through, with two wins and a ten shot better margin than the second place getters in that section would prove to be no slouches in the semi-finals either.
That final team, Clay Parker & Rowan Brassey (East Maitland), pushed their opponents to the end. Eventially winning by three shots over Harvey Phillips & Daryl Webster (Old Bar) and making their way through to the final.
In the other semi-final, the familiar face of Robbie Warren (Towradgi) showed up with partner Brian Suckley and did what seemed inevitable, made it to another final. Steve Read & Mark Fitzalan (Nyngan) were classy to the end but couldn’t keep up with the Towradgi team.
The final was not a forgone conclusion. Both teams were accurate and focused but these games can turn quickly and it was the Towradgi team who kept their focus a little longer and won a second State Championship in the 2022-23 season.
Women’s State Pairs
Everywhere you looked in this field, you saw legends. Three of the four sections won by teams on two wins and margin. Virginia Longfellow & Christine Gordon (Harbord) won through with +3 extra margin over second in their section, while Jeanice Scheimer & Kylie Hardy (Port City) got through on two wins and a draw.
In one of the most remarkable sectional scores ever seen, Ellen Falkner & Karen Murphy (Cabramatta) won through on top of their section with two wins a draw and a score differential of an enormous 48 shots. Not necessarily remarkable for players of Ellen Falkner and Karen Murphy’s legendary capability but they only just got up over the all-conquering team of Genevieve Delves & Natasha Van Eldik (Raymond Terrace) who had a 44 point differential. They are also the two teams that played in one of the best games we’ve seen on our live stream.
The last team through blitzed their opposition with three wins and 68 points in the positive. With these results, many saw them as serious contenders for the championship. Samantha Ferguson & Anne Johns (Engadine) were playing amazing bowls and knew the rinks well at this point having been at Figtree Sports all week.
But they didn’t have it all their own way. The Port City team pushed them hard in the first semi-final and the Engadine duo just pipped them at the post by one shot.
The Cabramatta team flexed their muscles and kicked away from Harbord for the win and a berth in the final.
Make no mistake, the final was a close game. Anne and Sam played outstanding tactical bowls and each end was hotly contested. But Karen and Ellen aren’t the legends they’ve proven to be for many years for no reason, winning out 22 to 13 in the end.
Men’s State Pairs
Unusually for sectional play, all four sections had a clear winner. The four semi-finalists winning all of their games to make it through for a chance. Corey Wedlock & Gary Kelly (Warilla), Craig Maythers & Christopher Couchman (Austral), Beau Prideaux & Carl Healey (Cabramatta) and Mark Cross & Bernie Melville (Alexandria Erskineville) the confirmed semi-finalists with the chance to win a championship medal.
The first semi-final was a tight affair with the Cabramatta team of Jackaroo Carl Healey and emerging Jackaroo Beau Prideaux having a bit of a scare from the Alexadria-Erskineville team led by the indomitable Bernie Melville but winning through in a close match 19-14.
The second semi-final was more of a lopsided affair with another Jackaroo, Corey Wedlock helping the legendary international representative Gary Kelly to another final.
Speaking of the word ‘legendary’, that’s what the final turned out to be. In the introduction to this article we spoke about these games being a marathon, this game turned out to be just that. Four and a half hours of play brought the exhausted players to their final end. The lights were turned on it was so late in the afternoon. The crowd watched a legendary final end with the Cabramatta team looking for three to tie the game and force an extra end.
They just missed out. Carl Healey’s final bowl just missing the jack which needed to move less than thirty centimetres to force the final end. Gary Kelly and Corey Wedlock booking their ticket to the National Championships in Perth in October as the newly crowned Men’s State Pairs champions.