Blockbuster finish to first #AusOpenGC finals
Australian Jackaroos ace Natasha Scott has guided a band of young-guns to one of the most coveted prizes in the sport of bowls, while South Australian spearhead Scott Thulborn carved out a redemption story for the ages in the women’s and men’s fours finals at the $225,000 Australian Open tonight.
19 year-old NSW NTC squad twins Samantha and Natalie Noronha and Australian Jackaroos pair Carla Odger and Scott were the first of 16 teams to strike gold at the transformed Australian Open this week, which this year boasts more players, venues, matches and prize-money than ever before.
The quartet went shot for shot against the experienced team of Jan Agar, Sue Auman, Sharyn Renshaw and Beth Quinlan, with scores tied five times during the encounter, before the champions broke the game open on the 13th end with 4 shots, only to surrender the same on the next end.
Down one going into the last, Scott bathed herself in glory, drawing second shot with her last bullet to collect 2 shots, the title, and the lucrative $20,000 cheque that accompanies it.
“I’m over the moon, it was an unbelievable win,” an elated Scott said after her win.
“Throughout the tournament I’ve just felt comfortable with these three girls, they are awesome friends of mine and to come away with a win tonight is something special. I can’t believe it.
“The girls that we played tonight have been playing at the highest level for a long time, but I suppose it’s not all about experience these days, you’ve got to gel as a team.
“The Noronha twins are two really good friends of mine and Carla and I have played together a bit at national level, so we knew we had the right combination to mix it with anyone.
“To win anything at an Australian Open is fantastic but to play with a group friends just means the world.”
In the adjacent rink, the South Australian greens-keeper contingent of Steven Dennis, Nathan Pedersen, Wayne Ruediger and Scott Thulborn went one step further than last year to finish the Australian Open on a fairytale ending, after a runner-up finish at Darebin last year.
In a similar story to the women’s result, the men’s final was also won with the last shot of the night, when Thulborn found himself down 2 shots, 9-11, and down in the count, but delivered a bomb with his last delivery, collecting the jack and poaching 3 shots to prevail by 1.
“This means a lot, playing with three good mates, we all battle away working hard as greenskeepers,” Thulborn said after prevailing.
“We had high hopes this year, we wanted to stay in striking distance to give ourselves a chance.
“We were lucky enough that the jack sort of jammed and we got the result.
“It hurt last year, we were disappointed, but its good to get one back.
“Up here on the Gold Coast is a beautiful spot so it’s been a great little work-holiday, playing plenty of bowls so we’ll all be back next year to try for our third final.”
Dean McWhinney, Ian Law, Shannon McIlroy and Tweed Head’s Paul Girdler were relegated to silver medals, despite leading on three occasions after the eighth end.
The Australian Open will now shift tact to the men’s and women’s singles knockout rounds, with two rounds of men and three of women’s played tomorrow, before the men’s pairs quarter-finals commence at 6.00pm at Broadbeach.