Strong start for the defending champions
Defending champions Carla Odgers and Kelsey Cottrell have opened their account on the first day of the Hong Kong International pairs with victories over Malaysia and Phoenix whilst the Australian men salvaged minor points against tough opposition.
Playing at the Hong Kong Football Club with one of the most unique settings to surround a bowling green, the players not only contended with a dissimilar format but intruding soccer balls from other sporting facilities all located in the centre of the world famous Happy Valley Racecourse.
The scoring system is different than any other international event, despite the match being split into two sets there is no tie break if the sets are even, so essentially two points are up for grabs each set and a bonus two points for the team with the highest aggregate over the 18 end match.
There was no chance for Odgers and Cottrell to ease into the competition with a first round encounter with multiple Commonwealth Games gold medallist Siti Zalina and Azlina Arshad of Malaysia.
The first set was shot for shot; however the Malaysian’s held a minor advantage and the Australian’s were unable to grab the lead at any stage in the set going down 5-9.
Australia stepped up a gear in the second set scoring a five on the first end and instantly turning the match back in their favour.
Odgers and Cottrell backed it up with a two on the following end then another multiple count of five soon after to affirm their lead 15-3 with only 3 ends remaining in the set.
The Australian’s continued to press ahead gaining valuable margin and two bonus points for having the higher aggregate after the 18 ends were completed.
In their second match the defending champions were pushed to the limit by Hong Kong locals Winnie Au and Camilla Leung.
Again the Australian’s went down narrowly in the opening set 5-8 and in the second set Odgers and Cottrell were finding it difficult to break away with Leung converting sensationally most ends.
On the eighth end it looked like the Australian’s were finally going to push ahead, they were one up on the card and holding four shots until Leung’s final bowl pushed the shot bowl through the head and stayed for one.
Scores were level going into the last end, Phoenix attempted a short end however after the umpire determined it to be an illegal length Odgers threw ditch to ditch and drew three shots.
The Aussie’s needed three to draw and four to win, Cottrell drew another and for the first time in the match Leung missed reducing the deficit with all three bowls; Australia won the second set and the match by one, claiming the two bonus points.
Pietersen and Baus also had a first round encounter against Malaysia to contend with and the game certainly lived up to expectation.
Pietersen was leading up against Hong Kong International singles finalist Muhammad Hizlee; they traded blows all match setting the scene for what would be a very close game.
The Australian’s were competing at a high level but as expected from one of the world’s best Fairul Izwan was dangerous with his second and third bowls, converting heads back in Malaysia’s favour time and time again.
The score line was starting to get away from the Australian’s in the first set until they managed to recover three shots on the ninth to reduce the deficit to three.
In similar fashion to the Australian women the men scored a four on the first end; the high quality bowls from both countries continued and the match was destined to go down to the wire.
Australia kept their noses in front all set, however despite winning the second set 9-7 they were unable to snatch the bonus points, going down by one overall.
Baus and Pietersen had their work cut out for them in the second round against Hong Kong’s international side.
The Australian’s dominated the first set winning 8-4 however the table turned in the second.