Men’s fours rewarded with bronze
Australia has secured its third bowls medal at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, and will soon go in hunt of a fourth in the coveted blue-ribbon men’s singles. Relative newcomers to the sport of bowls, India have produced a solidly performance in these Games and were rewarded with a shot at bronze medal in the men’s fours, albeit against the world number one, Australia. Unintimidated by their highly fancied opponents, India, who had stunned five gold medal winning nation South Africa in the sectional rounds, broke away to a 4-0 lead after the first two ends. It was a scratchy start for the Aussie combination of Wayne Ruediger, Brett Wilkie, Nathan Rice and Matt Flapper, although the crowd could sense it was only a matter of time before they kicked into gear. After four ends it looked as though the Indian team had the Aussies’ measure, maintaining a four shot margin, 2-6. Australia’s response of 3 shots brought them back into the contest. After the seventh end, the Indian team had skipped out to a five shot lead, a margin they also held on the 11th end. With the battle scheduled for just 15 ends, an upset looked on the cards. The tide appeared to have turned once Australia strung together three straight ends to get to within one shot at 13-14 and an end to play. Ruediger, who has enjoyed a stellar campaign, delivered a bomb with his second bowl to sit four inches behind the jack. Rice then added another close one and the Aussies held two – in the space of three ends the Indian team had gone from leading to now being down match. The Indian skipper tried valiantly to drive with his first but missed wide. Neither the commentators nor the crowd were certain of whether the Australian team held one or two shots – it was certainly one but a close measure for two – with the outcome resulting in either an extra sudden-death end or the outright win for Australia. Flapper tried to draw another shot but was heavy by the smallest of margins. Again the marker signalled ‘one and a measure’. One the adjacent green, Scotland and England gold medal match had concluded, with the crowd erupting for the host nation’s second gold medal result When the uproar had subsided, India’s skip composed himself and drove his final bullet and target, but missed. It was now a case of measuring for the game. The marker immediately signalled two shots for Australia and the bronze medal was secured with a final score of 15-14. “We scratched around a bit today but got there in the end,” National Coach Steve Glasson said. “I’m really pleased for the boys to have won a Commonwealth bronze medal, they thoroughly deserve it.” The players were jubilant after their win and hugged family and friends who had made the long trip to Glasgow. “It was intense. We had to rebound after yesterday. India played exceptionally well but we scratched our way through,” skip Matthew Flapper said after securing his maiden Commonwealth Games medal. “The support we get is amazing, almost as loud as the Scots – we won the medal for us, but we won it for them as well.” Australia’s last chance to add to the medal tally will take place shortly, with Aron Sherriff pitted against New Zealand’s Shannon McIlroy in the bronze medal play-off for the men’s singles. If Sherriff prevails, Australia will finish the tournament with as many medals as their previous attempt in Delhi in 2010, but unfortunately of a less impressive colour palette, given their final haul four years ago consisted of three silver and one bronze. Caption (left to right): Matthew Flapper, Nathan Rice, Brett Wilkie and Wayne Ruediger will return to Australian shores with a Commonwealth Games bronze medal. Image: Getty Images.