Johns captures Australian Open double
Scottish born Australia A squad member Anne Johns has stamped her authority on the $140,000 Australian Open today, adding another two national titles to her impressive résumé, including the lucrative $18,000 blue ribbon singles crown. Johns, who hails from Western Sydney’s powerhouse bowls club St Johns Park, already boasted three triples trophies from previous attempts at the Southern Hemisphere’s richest bowls event, and is now just one shy of equalling the record for most amount of victories at the tournament – ironically to the women she overcame for the singles crown by a slender 2 shot margin, Australian Jackaroos captain Lynsey Clarke. Johns has now etched her name onto Australian Open trophies an astonishing five times, twice with Clarke in the triples in 2011 and 2012, and then again together just hours before squaring off for the coveted singles silverware. An Australian all-star contingent of Johns, Rebecca Van Asch, Kelsey Cottrell and Clarke became the first group to record their names in the history books as the inaugural fours champions, with the discipline replacing the now defunct triples. Putting their profitable partnerships behind them, Clarke, the 2012 singles winner, found herself trailing close friend Johns in the blue ribbon event, 6-17, before piling on 13 shots with scores on five of the last seven ends late in proceedings, but it simply wasn’t enough to steal victory from the jaws of defeat, going down 19-21. Clarke, who progressed to the gold medal decider of all three main draw disciplines, could be forgiven for thinking lady luck abandoned her today, only walking away with one medallion of the highly sought-after shade. Cottrell and Clarke were unable to defend their pairs title, with Queensland’s Emma Brown and Noelene Dutton prevailing 13-9. In the men’s singles, which was live streamed free of charge on bowlsaustralia.com.au, Gold Coast’s former world number two Brett Wilkie assumed red hot favouritism going into the $18,000 decider but in true Australian style, it was the underdog who shone brightest on the biggest stage. Bendigo’s Nathan ‘Dogga’ Wilson followed in the footsteps of elder brother Aaron, adding his name to the coveted Australian Open singles trophy just 12 months after Aaron etched on his. Wilson, 20, defeated the likes of current Scottish world champion Graeme Archer, Adelaide Endurance star Scott Thulborn and dual NSW bowler of the year Ray Pearse to earn his berth, but claimed his biggest scalp when it mattered most, recording a 21-19 victory over the current world champion in a prolonged two hours and twenty minute encounter. In the men’s fours, former Australian representative Michael Cronin guided his East Cessnock contingent of Simon Mitchell, Brodie Turner and Jon Dimopoulos to glory after coming from an 8-12 shot deficit to prevail 13-12. It wasn’t a case of home state advantage in the men’s pairs, with New South Wales representatives Andrew Rees and Brendon Baker blasting their way to a 22-11 maiden Australian Open win against Victorian duo Graeme Spry and Ray Jansen.