Australian Sides Championships ready to ignite in Burnie
Over 190 of the nation’s premier bowlers have descended on the Apple Isle today for the coveted Australian Sides Championships at South Burnie Bowls Club. Across three rinks, men’s and women’s teams from each state or territory will battle it out over four days to determine which state walks away with bragging rights – and with three trophies up for grabs there is plenty to play for. The Sides Championships, which has an illustrious history dating back to 1959, is the sport’s only national state versus state competition, and features the top 12 men and women from each state and territory across the nation, with the revered Alley Shield being awarded to the victorious men’s team and the coveted Marj Morris Trophy handed to the winning women’s outfit. The 2013 Australian Sides Championships saw New South Wales become just the second state to claim all three trophies on offer, taking home the Shield, Trophy and the Overall State Champions trophy after edging out host state Victoria in a tight finish. The defending champions have named a strong team for the event as it looks to turn its status as pre-tournament favourites into another clean sweep of the silverware with some of the biggest names in the sport, such as Aron Sherriff, Karen Murphy and freshly crowned 2014 Australian Open women’s singles champion Anne Johns set to take to the green. Former Maroon-turned-Blue, Commonwealth Games gold medallist and former world champion, Mark Casey has returned to the Queensland team, joining the likes of Commonwealth Games gold medallist Kelvin Kerkow OAM and Australian Jackaroo vice-captain Brett Wilkie, in a big coup for the state as it looks to reassert its dominance over the men’s event that it has won four of the last six occasions. While they have never claimed a trophy at the Australian Sides Championships, Tasmania will look to benefit from the home ground advantage, naming a well credentialed team featuring Jackaroo Rebecca Van Asch and Bowls Australia’s Under-18 Male Bowler of the Year award winner Michael Sims alongside experienced state representatives. Victoria also loom as a guineune contender to claim the spoils, after capturing all three men’s disciplines gold medals at the Super 6 yesterday. Spectators are encouraged to take advantage of the free admission at South Burnie Bowls Club to watch best bowlers in the country at the Australian Sides Championship this week – from March 31 to April 3 – with seven rounds played over the four days of competition. Caption: NSW will aim to replicate their 2013 feats.