Country All-Stars v State Squad Challenge
Played Thursday, 26th February 2015 at Osborne Park BC Our Western Australian Men’s State Squad was grateful for a very, competitive hit-out ahead of the National Sides Championships, eventually running out comfortable 132-97 winners against the Country All-Stars on a balmy evening at Osborne Park Bowling Club last night.
State skips Clive Adams and Thomas Mitchell enjoyed big 27-13 and 26-13 wins over Ron Treasure (Bindoon) and Warren Holt (Wagin) respectively and their current form went along way to determining the overall aggregate. 2nd Cody Packer was also a standout and he should be confident he can continue to deliver the kind of performances that caught the eye of national selectors in Bendigo, Victoria two years ago. Scott Edmonds, who first donned the black and gold back in 2009 but will be making his debut at the up-coming Australian Sides, got better and better as the night wore on. The 2014 Country Week Singles Champion was proudly representing Karratha this time last year, however, his move to Doubleview has paid dividends and he will be hoping to have an even bigger impact in April at Yokine.
Matthew Ellul’s rink dropped a four on the third end and had to fight hard to stay in the contest as they trailed for the rest of the night. Down 11-15 with three ends to play, Ellul threw everything at Augusta’s Andrew Dayton but despite picking up four on the final end, they went down by the narrowest of margins. Trystan Smallacombe, who won his 92nd cap in 2012 but has not played a National Sides Series since 2010, was most impressive and earned high praise from not only his coach but from his opposition and the large amount of spectators that stayed glued to this contest in particular.
Also winning by just one shot was Collie’s Gary Keep, who defeated veteran John Goddard in a game in which the lead changed seven times. Again, the State Squad picked up four on the final end but it was not enough; 18-19 the final score. Mandurah’s young lead Joshua Hamilton certainly did not let the big occasion get the better of him and his consistent display augurs well for a bright future.
James Webster was the other big winner on the night, with his rink proving too strong for Mark Wunnenberg (Darkan). Down 1-5 after five ends, Webster picked up a five on the ninth end to lead 8-7 and from there never looked back. An incredible 23 shots in just eight ends can be largely attributed to 22 year-old Blake Nairn. The exciting young prospect is enjoying a breakout season in the BCiB Premier League and has added a first State Pairs title to his name before his recent semi-final appearance in the State Singles. Playing third, Nairn only enhanced his fast-growing reputation and certainly highlighted the amount of young talent WA has within its ranks.
National Training Centre athletes Lewis Grigg, 22, and Ryan Moyle, 23, are two such fine examples and the front-end pairing helped their rink, skipped by David Rankin, to a 15-4 lead after 12 ends. However, Gary Cosgrove (Mingenew) managed to turn the tide of momentum and picked up five shots on the final three ends to earn a hard-fought 19-all draw.
The Country All-Stars gave their merry band of travelling support plenty to cheer about throughout the night and high-quality display of bowls from both sides added to the warm atmosphere that the Osborne Park Bowling Club often creates, especially in anticipation of Country Week. The State Side will be hoping for a similar level of vocal support when their campaign to regain the Alley Shield begins in earnest; April 9-12 at Yokine Districts Bowling Club.
Earlier in the evening, Bowls WA Board Member and Country Director Linda Deegan-Humphries enthusiastically welcomed her fellow country bowlers to Men’s Country Week and presented 16 new players with their Country All-Stars cap. Bowls WA President Graham Leeks and CEO Ken Pride also gave warm welcomes before managers Walter Rendell and John Lewis read out the cards for the Country Open and Over 60 sides respectively.
The Over 60 Country v Metropolitan match up was a much closer affair than in previous years, with three very tightly contested rinks. Dunsborough’s Mike Brown earned a one shot win over John Trewhella while Graham Evans evened the ledger with the same 16-15 score line against Keith Cannon (Dudley Park).
At 11-all with one end to play, Keith Guelfi found himself two down but managed to trail the jack to triumph over Felix Ditri (Pemberton) while Steve O’Neill’s rink comprising Geoff White, Frank Carbone and leader Grant Nicol had all the answers for Ron Bickers (Capel) and ran out deserved 23-13, largely contributing to the 67-55 aggregate win.