Australia back in medal contention

by admin

Australia has secured two quarter-finals berths after a scintillating performance in the last round kept the Jackaroos’ golden hopes alive. All five Jackaroos women have advanced past sectional stages today, in both the pairs and triples, and are now each just three wins shy of securing the Australian Bowls Team’s first gold medal of the tournament, while the men’s five-strong contingent are also well very placed with one rubber remaining. The women’s triples team of Lynsey Clarke, Karen Murphy and Kelsey Cottrell produced a clinical performance to put the final nail in their sectional campaign, downing an accomplished Malaysian outfit 20-10 to advance to tomorrow’s quarter-final, despite an earlier hiccup against India. With rain coming in horizontally, and three flags directly behind green perpendicular to the ground, players were forced to adapt to harsh conditions unaccommodating to the deft touch required in the sport. The Aussie started like a steam-train and quickly got out to a 10-2 lead, but even the team was somewhat stunned by such a comprehensive win against one of the more highly regarding oppositions. “We played well today and unfortunately for Malaysia they caught us on a good day where we played well as a team,” National Coach Steve Glasson said. “It was a great start which is really pleasing as we talked about that before the match and something we are really trying to focus on.” Australia will now encounter Fiji in the do-or-die quarter-final rounds, with South Africa pitted against Scotland, New Zealand squaring off against Wales and Malaysia rolling off against England, tomorrow at 3.45pm local time (Friday 12.45am AEST). Also progressing to the pointy end of the competition were the women’s pairs duo, Carla Odgers and Natasha Scott, who similarly had the wood over Malaysia in the round five rubber. Despite essentially being a dead rubber, given there was no possible way the Jackaroos could finish their section outside of the top two, it was a telling display of the pairs’ determination to not take a backwards step. Nature’s elements had spectators ducking for cover wherever they could find it – included our very own former Commonwealth Games gold medallist turned support staff Kelvin Kerkow, who ingeniously hopped inside one of the rink-side black boxes normally reserved for players’ bags to escape the vicious weather, and even managed to give the international audience watching from around the globe a ‘cheerio’ wave when caught out by broadcast cameras. But it didn’t phase the players and they continued to brave the elements – spurring themselves on to a 18-14 victory. “We relaxed straight into this one which was good to see,” Coach Kerkow said after emerging from the box. “We’ve started a bit ordinary at times in this tournament but Tash (Scott) and Odgy (Odgers) did well today, similar to their start against Niue.” The match tightened considerably in the latter stages, with Odgers and Scott withstanding a series of fight backs from the Malaysian pair. On the 14th end their opponents closed the gap to just three shots until the Aussie combination pulled away again. Not done with yet, the Malaysians again came at the Aussie pair cutting the margin back to three shots with one end to play (17-14). The final end saw Odgers play three terrific bowls to alleviate the pressure. “It was a good hard fought win in really very ordinary conditions,” Kerkow commented. “Carla wasn’t well last night, so I wasn’t sure what to expect but thankfully she’s fine today.” Australia’s next opponent in the quarter-final will be decided later today (by draw), with the match scheduled to be played tomorrow morning at 8:45am local time (5.45pm AEST). The men’s singles and fours are also in the box seat to progress to the elimination rounds. NSW’s Aron Sherriff’s campaign remains unscathed after a third straight victory, against England’s Sam Tolchard. Pundits found it hard to split the two pre-tournament, with a complicating …