Pieter Harris’ Sides Series Day 1 Report

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Round 1 v Australian Capital Territory
Both the Western Australian Men’s and Women’s State Teams started their National Side Series in style with a first up victory over the ever improving ACT.
The WA Women’s team were fast starters in their game with the rink of first time Side Series Skip Lisa Featherby, Pam Chalmers, Robyn Jolly and Laura Merz jumping out to a 13-3 lead after 12 ends. Therese Hastings, Kristina Krstic, Liz West and Kelli Rogalski had a slender lead of 14-9 at the half way mark and Kathy Gobbart, Rechelle Cole, Bianca Riseborough and Shenayde Heldt were in a great battle with a one shot deficit 12-13.
As the game wound its way towards the end, WA were never seriously troubled with debutant Merz and new skip Featherby continuing to shine in their big 25-5 rink win.  Hastings had to battle hard in her 22-19 win while Gobbart could not find the finish line and went down narrowly 20-21. An overall aggregate victory of 67-45 was a great start to the ladies’ campaign.
The WA Men’s team came into the first round with up and down form in their lead up games. On the slow South Burnie greens they were still coming to terms with their game plans and shot selection on the difficult surface. It looked like more of the same in the early part of the match against the ACT. Matt Ellul’s rink had a slight reshuffle from the original side when Australian A representative Clive Adams changed from lead to second with youngster Matt Ayres playing lead and Kyle McIlroy staying as the third. Although both players had shown good early form it was considered better team balance with the change of positions. The change had a positive effect with both players starting well but the ACT skip continually changed the heads and the Ellul rink quickly fell behind in the early stages. By the half way mark they had clawed their way back into contention with Ellul producing some good shots to change the heads back over. The rink of John Slavich, Tom Mitchell, Dave Rankin and Mark Simpson were having a great battle and were 12-12, while the Gary Caffell, John Goddard, Daniel Patterson and Stuart Bainbridge rink had the same 12-12 score line. It was from then on the WA men started to produce the big shots with another debutant Simpson having a great game on the Slavich rink and they went onto win 22-15. All player  contributed on the Caffell rink in their 21-17 win and Matt Ayres was the star of the show with solid contributions from all others in the team in their fight back draw 19-19 for an overall 62-51 aggregate win.

Round 2 v South Australia
The afternoon round saw WA take on the giant killing team of South Australia. Both the Men’s and Women’s team upset last year’s champions NSW in the morning round and were full of confidence going into the afternoon.
As happened in the morning round for the women, a rink had a sizzling start to lead the way on the aggregate board. In the morning it was the Featherby rink but in the afternoon it was the Hastings rink that shot out to an early 12-2 lead. Featherby was keeping it close; trailing 6-7 and Gobbart was having some trouble down 4-7 early in the game. By the half way mark WA were well on the way to a win with Hastings continuing to show the way leading 19-5 with her third Krstic putting on a clinic and all other players playing their part. Featherby’s rink had started to return to their morning form as they pulled away to a 18-8 lead but the Gobbart rink had fallen behind 10-18.
As Krstic continued to shine in one rink and Merz setting up the other, the WA Women continued to hold the aggregate lead throughout the game and won 65-52. Hastings had a healthy 31-11 win, Featherby held on 22-17 while the only blemish being Gobbart’s 12-24 loss. The WA Women’s second win set them up for tomorrow’s important games against defending champions NSW and host state Tasmania.
The WA Men were also keen to end Day 1 with two victories and confidence was high they could give South Australia a solid hit out despite losing to them the previous day in a practise match. The Ellul rink continued how they had finished in the morning and jumped out to a 9-2 lead after only 5 ends. Slavich was having a great battle with his opponent and after dropping an extremely unlucky 5 on one end, they then picked up a 4 on the next to be 7-7 after 6 ends. It was a completely different story on the Caffell rink when they were shown an extremely high standard of bowls that they were struggling to overcome. After 7 ends they had slumped to a 3-15 deficit and they needed to find a big lift from somewhere.
As the game reached beyond the half way point it had become obvious that WA were only playing for rink wins as the Caffell rink had no answers to the quality of the South Australians and continued to fall behind 5-32. Slavich battled hard with his opponent and was slightly behind 12-13, while Ellul was having trouble holding onto his shots and fell behind 9-14.
By the end of the game it was only a matter of the aggregate margin and could WA pinch a rink. The Caffell rink was happy when their pain was over in their 8-42 defeat. Slavich fell just short in his 18-20 loss and Ellul was similar as he again flew home but this time came up short 19-20. An aggregate loss of 45-82 saw South Australia regain the Ford/Wishart trophy and go into Day 2 with two wins. The WA men will be looking to regroup in their games against NSW and Tasmania and are still very much in the wide-open competition.

Pieter Harris
Men’s Head Coach