Pieter Harris’ Sides Series Day 3 Report

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Round 5 v Victoria
After a disappointing Day 2 for both Western Australian teams, everybody woke up to a morning of rain set to delay the beginning of Day 3. With greens already running at a maximum of 12 seconds, further rain would further slow a difficult track. The Men’s team would go into the day with multiple changes to the original team with selectors and players looking for an improved performance for the rest of the competition but also with an eye to what a future team may look like. The Ladies were also disappointed with the outcomes of the previous day but chose not to change things and relied on all players lifting in their current positions.
The WA women jumped out of the blocks well against fierce competitors Victoria. By the half way point Kathy Gobbart, Rechelle Cole, Shenayde Heldt and Bianca Riseborough held a 13-6 lead which was making the difference in the aggregate. Therese Hastings, Kristina Krstic, Liz West and Kelli Rogalski were continuing their good series with an 8-8 score, with Krstic continuing to shine from the third’s position. Lisa Featherby, Pam Chalmers, Robyn Jolly and Laura Merz had a slight 7-10 deficit with Merz continuing her outstanding debut series from the lead’s position. As the game progressed, the rink scores started to turn; Gobbart found herself one behind, Hastings started to open a 14-8 lead and Featherby began to fall further behind at 10-18. With the aggregate in the balance, it was the Victorian team that stepped up the pace to find the finish line 57-46. Hastings was the WA lone rink win with a narrow 15-14 score. Featherby made up some late ground to go down 15-20 and Gobbart couldn’t hold their fast start together and went down 16-23.
The WA men went into the Victorian game with a number of changes. Clive Adams went into the skip position replacing Gary Caffell, Daniel Patterson stepped up to the third’s position with John Goddard filling the second’s position, and Mark Simpson went to a second while Dave Rankin went into lead. With the boys settling into their new positions it was again a slow start by one rink against quality opposition that was hurting. It certainly was not the case of bad bowls but at this level of competition heads are changing throughout the end and when the dust settled the WA boys always seemed to be on the losing side. Clive Adams was making a great transition into his new role and was inspiring his team of Tom Mitchell, Goddard and Stuart Bainbridge to a 13-8 lead. The Matt Ellul rink had been a strong performer all week with Ellul getting more confident with each outing. Ellul’s team of Kyle Mcilroy, Simpson and Matt Ayres continued to be competitive at 10-11 with Ayres still leading strongly in his first National Side Series. It was the John Slavich that was having trouble this time with some quality performances by the opposition. With little reason Slavich, Patterson, Caffell and Rankin found themselves in all sorts of trouble at 2-16. It was then that the WA boys showed why they were here as they dug deep and started to claw back into the game. More bowls in the head and some good finishing skills saw them drag themselves back to win the second half and go down 14-23. The Ellul rink was in a tremendous tussle with their opponents but couldn’t get to the lead, eventually going down 15-20. New skip Adams found himself game down on the last end but played two crucial shots to take his team to a 17-16 triumph. The final aggregate of 46-59 was not necessarily a true indication of a high quality game.

Round 6 v Queensland
For the WA women, this was a game that they had to get back on track. Some disappointing losses earlier in the week should have been a driving factor towards the afternoon game. However, a slow start straight away put them on the back foot and although they kept fighting to the finish they could never quite get back into the game. The reliable Hastings rink found themselves in all sorts of trouble at 2-11 and Featherby was again competitive but still had a small deficit 7-10. Gobbart was the lone rink that again started well with Riseborough having a good game in her debut series with a 8-6 score. As the game went on the strong Queensland outfit always seemed to have WA’s measure and they could never get close enough to put the pressure on the aggregate board. Gobbart continued to fight it out and finished with an 18-18 draw, while Hastings tried to make inroads but could get enough pressure on the opposition and went down 15-24. Featherby saw her deficit slowly widen as the game went on and finally finished at 14-26 with a final 47-68 aggregate.
The WA men, fresh from regaining some confidence from the morning game, went into the game verses Queensland with renewed hope and as a 12 played their best game. The Ellul rink was combining well again with Simpson playing a good game from the two position and they found themselves up 9-3. Slavich was having a super game against Kelvin Kerkow with all players on the rink finding the line and weight to make for an exceptionally high quality game. The 6-7 score showed this was going to go down to the wire. Adams continued to play some strong bowls with Bainbridge performing well in his position. Although he found himself down 8-11 the team could consider themselves unlucky to not be in front with Queensland skip Nathan Rice saving his team time after time. As the game went on, the quality of play continued to rise and WA were showing what they were capable of with Queensland matching them all the way. After 45 ends, WA found themselves three down on the aggregate board but continuing to push strongly. First the Adams rink finished with a 13-21 loss. Then the Ellul rink was completed with a 20-14 win; leaving the aggregate in the hands of the Slavich rink. With the last end under way Slavich and Kerkow were level on their board but Queensland leading the big board by two. WA had shot, and then Queensland as the head changed with every bowl. It was WA playing for pride and Queensland playing for the championship, as they knew an aggregate win meant they would be the champions no matter what happened on the final day. On the cross over WA held a good one and an opportunity to get the two to draw and the three to win. Both the Slavich bowls seemed terrific on the way down and looked to be trailing the jack with superb length. However, both bowls slipped under the jack by millimetres and although Slavich won his rink 17-16, the aggregate was lost 50-51.
Pieter Harris
Men’s Head Coach