Men’s triples go in search of bronze lining
Australia men’s triples have come perilously unstuck on the second last hurdle of the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, but there still remains a chance of a silver lining – in the form of a bronze medal. World champion Wayne Ruediger, Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Nathan Rice and Bowls Australia’s runner-up International Bowler of the Year Matthew Flapper were pitted against a red-hot South African contingent in the do-or-die semi-final this morning local time. South Africa are fast turning out to be the in-form team in the tournament, after edging out our across-the-ditch neighbours New Zealand in their quarter-final bout, while across the greens today they also secured positions in two other gold medal matches; the men’s pairs and on the adjacent rink the women’s fours. This is after they claimed the first gold medal of the tournament in the vision impaired mixed pairs yesterday – with the Springboks now guaranteed of one gold and three silver medals from the first five disciplines at a minimum. Conditions proved to be difficult for bowls at the Kelvingrove venue today, with heavy gusting wins and a drizzly ubiquitous. “We were confident coming into this match,” National Coach Steve Glasson declared prior to the match commencing. “We’d been playing really well and hadn’t yet dropped a match in any of the pool games. “The rain doesn’t help us, but then again, it doesn’t really help anyone in bowls” The match was close from the get go, with just one shot separating the teams after six ends staged. South Africa hit their straps in the middle of the match, and at one stage had broken away to an eight shot lead of 5-13. From there the Aussie warriors commenced their comeback. 6-13, then 7-13, then a huge score of 4 got the green and gold battlers back within two shots at 11-13. For the remainder of the match the scores were close, and the tension in the crowd was obvious. Numbers of spectators swelled; growing minute by minute until it was standing room only. On the last end the difference was two shots in South Africa’s favour, 14-16. The Aussies needed a count of two shots to force an extra end or three to steal victory. Having been in spectacular form all tournament, the pro-Australian crowd were pleased to have Victoria’s Matt Flapper step onto the mat, with their hopes resting firmly in the palm of his hands. Hisfinal bullet got it away well and had to take the jack back to where the Jackaroos had numbers. It was agonisingly close, but narrowly missed collecting the jack and slid through the gap. South Africa had won 18-14, and secured their ticket to ultimate decider against Northern Ireland. “What a great match, both teams played really well,” 2006 Commonwealth Games men’s singles gold medallist and Australian selector Kelvin Kerkow said after the result was decided. “It was an extremely high standard of bowls, but we just couldn’t quite get there on the day. “Full credit to South Africa, they played really well today.” The Australian men’s triples team will now play for Australia’s second bronze of the competition, having already claimed the prized medallion in the vision impaired mixed pairs, when they encounter Wales tomorrow morning at 8:45am local time (5.45pm AEST). Australia also have two more matches scheduled for play today, with the first round of the men’s fours against Papua New Guinea at 12.30pm (9.30pm AEST), and Aron Sherriff lines up for his opening men’s singles rubber against Niue’s Dalton Tagelagii at 5.30pm (2.30am AEST). Men’s triples semi-final result: Wayne Ruediger, Brett Wilkie, Nathan Rice and Matthew Flapper (AUS) lost to Prince Neluonde, Petrus Breitenbach and Bobby Donnelly (RSA) 14-18 Caption: Nathan Rice, Matthew Flapper and Wayne Ruediger will now hunt a bronze medal in the men’s triples. Image: Getty Images.