The Stars Conquer The Pinnacles in Final Blitz

by Pieter Harris

The first season of Bowls Blitz came to an end on Sunday with the Grand Final between Blooms the Chemist Stars and the Trophy Warehouse Pinnacles at the Cambridge Bowling Club.

To complete the season, eight teams of eight players, played 13 singles games, 18 pairs games. 9 triples games and 7 fours games across fourteen rounds and two finals rounds over four days from May to August.

With each round only going for 90 minutes and with a mixture of disciplines played during the day, the best bowlers in Western Australia produced some of the best competition and bowls seen in this state for many years. This was showcased right to the end when several last end bowls under huge pressure swung the results in tightly fought contests.

The use of a modified points system also showed its value when final ladder positions in the top four came down to less than a handful of points. With a point for every end won, as well as ten points for a rink win, it showed the value of teams being able to grab the extra end points even when in a losing position.

The final day started with two rounds remaining and five teams still a strong chance to finish in the top four with a sixth team with an outside chance. After round 13, the fifth-placed Variety – the Children’s Charity Chargers moved within striking distance of the top 4 with a dominating win over the sixth-placed BCiB Blitz. However, their run came to an end when they lost two rinks to one against the bottom placed Henselite Enforcers in the fourteenth and final round.

That left the top four teams at the beginning of the day, do enough to complete the round-robin games as the final four and ready for finals. Blooms The Chemist Stars moved from second at the start of the day into top position with 510 points, 15 points clear of second and securing the advantage of picking what green they would play their Semi-Final on.

Second to fourth positions were only separated by six points with the Senior Recreation Council Sharpshooters finishing second on 495 points, Trophy Warehouse Pinnacles third on 491 points and the Dyenamic Cyclones fourth and having to face the top side in the Semi-Finals, on 489 points.

The two semi-finals saw the match-up of 1 v 4 and 2 v 3, with a combination of two singles games, a pairs game, and a fours game to be played. This would be the first time that all eight members of each team would be on the green at one time as the round-robin games only required six players on the green with the other two substituting in during the game. How this would change the tactics of each team was yet to be seen. Managers would still be able to make substitutions by changing a player’s position within the team or change players between rinks during the game, but they could only do it a maximum of three times.

Before the Semi-Finals began, the presentation of the Blitz Most Valuable Player was made along with the competition’s sportsmanship award.

The Sportsmanship award was selected under the values of how a player conducted themselves towards teammates, opponents, officials, and management. The worthy winner of Blake Butler from the Stars was deservedly awarded the Sportsmanship medal.

It was then onto the inaugural Bowls Blitz MVP award. After each match, the managers would get together and award three, two and one votes from the 16 players involved in their fixture. After receiving votes in 8 of the 14 rounds played, the Cyclones Clive Adams took home the first Bowls Blitz MVP medal.

It was then onto the first Semi-Final with Blooms the Chemist Stars up against the Dyenamic Cyclones. Stars Captain Kristina Krstic (Manning) took the helm of the pairs with her partner being the Under 18 State Singles Champion Segan Pasalich (Osborne Park), up against the combination of Neville Stevens (Osborne Park) and Hailey Packer (Manning). Krstic lead all the way to win 13-9 and collect 10 rink points as well as 8 end points compared to Steven’s 6 end points. The fours rink were similar, with the Stars leading all the way to win 12-7 and get the valuable 10 rink points. The combination of Blake Nairn (Cambridge), Ryan Brown (Osborne Park), Matthew Whitely (Bassendean), and Lisa Brannan (Melville) also collected 5 end points during the win. The Cyclone’s Michael Sweeney (North Beach), Brad Gillingham (North Beach), Simon Alden (Bassendean), and Irene Arndt (Safety Bay) fought hard to win the last three ends to match the Stars in ends won to add a valuable 5 end points to the Cyclones total.

The last two disciplines were two singles games. The Cyclone’s Cameron Harris (Cambridge) had a very strong outing over his Stars opponent Joel Leeson (Denison). The contest was close after seven ends with Leeson holding a 7-6 lead before Harris started to power away and win the game 21-12 when time ran out. Harris not only added the 10 rink points to the Cyclones tally but also lead the end count 12-7 as well as picking up a bonus point for a full count of four shots on one end.

This left the match on a knifes edge with one more singles game still to finish their last end. The total scores for the three rinks that had finished left the Stars on 40 points and the Cyclones on 33 points so depending on the number of ends won, the winner was likely to lead his team into the finals.

Cyclones captain Clive Adams (Cambridge) went into the last end leading 17-16 after getting a three on the previous and ultimately the second last end against the Stars renowned singles exponent Blake Butler (Manning). The card showed that Adams had won 10 ends and Butler had won 9 ends. So, if Adams were to keep his lead, the Cyclones would advance to the final.

With Butler having the last bowl in his hand it looked desperate with Adams holding a number of shots all approximately one and a half feet behind the jack. But Butler did not have to win the game as a single giving him a draw would split the 10 rink points, giving both teams 5 points each and victory to the Stars. With all the pressure you could imagine Butler played his last bowl and with precision, landed on Adam’s back bowls. However, it was not over straight away with the Adams bowl standing on its edge it only had to fall over for him to hold onto the match. Although the Butler bowl gave it a shake, it refused to fall down, and Butler had saved his team to march or at least crawl into the final with a 17-17 rink draw and 5 rink points.

The second Semi-Final saw Variety-the Children’s Charity Sharpshooters against the Trophy Warehouse Pinnacles. Pinnacles captain John Slavich (Doubleview) was put in charge of the fours combination of Donna Blackwell (Melville), Amanda Masters (Osborne Park), and Russell Bates (Kardinya). A tight fixture early against Dale Marsland (Mosman Park), Lisa Featherby (Mosman Park), Chris Lander (Sorrento), and Toni Madigan (Osborne Park), Slavich pulled away to win 15-7 and take the 10 rink points along with 6 end points. Marsland hung on but could only get the 4 rink points to add to his team’s total.

The pairs rink saw the Sharpshooters pair of Steve Novak (Kardinya) and Shane Loftus (Sorrento) start strongly winning the first four ends before the Pinnacles Will Hyatt (Dudley Park) and Jack East (Osborne Park) stormed over the top winning seven of the last 10 ends. Hyatt ended up winning 17-12, to gain 10 rink points and 7 end points. Novak was able to match the ends by winning 7 ends himself but the valuable 10 rink points were lost.

Both singles matches were tight affairs with Sharpshooter Justin Opie (South Perth) prevailing over Pinnacle Paul Davies (Kardinya) 23-18 to get the 10 rink points but both players won similar ends with Opie picking up 11 rink points and a full count bonus point, while Davies won 12 ends to get valuable points into the Pinnacles total. The final singles match saw Sharpshooters Miles Kemp shoot to an early lead in score and ends won but the Pinnacles Noelene Abe (Corrigin) fought back late to not only square the rink points with a 14 all drawn scoreline but also win six of the last eight ends to also square the end count. The Abe surge cemented the Pinnacles overall win and advancement to the finals with a 59 – 48 points win.

Both teams went into the Final with the same combination of fours, pairs, and singles players. Stars Manager Therese Hasting patrolled the far end of the green urging her players on. While Pinnacles Manager Linda Warburton implored her charges from the near end of the green.

All players started strongly in the fours with Pinnacles Slavich, Blackwell, Masters, and Bates jumping out to a 7-3 lead halfway through their match against the Stars Nairn, Brown, Whitely, and Brannan.

At the other end of the green, it was the Stars Pairs combination of Krstic and Pasalich who took a commanding lead at the halfway mark leading 13-5, including a bonus point for a five on the eighth end over Pinnacles Hyatt and East. The two singles games in the middle of the green were a complete opposite of each other. The Pinnacles Paul Davies had set up a nice 11-4 lead over Stars Joel Leeson, while Stars Blake Butler had a 10-3 lead over Pinnacles Noelene Abe.

At the 45 minute mark of the 90-minute game, it was anybody’s title for the taking with the Stars leading 17 ends to the Pinnacles 15 ends won and two rinks apiece.

The Slavich fours team continued their journey to victory and eventually ran out 11-5 winners when time ran out over Nairn to grab the 10 rink points and win the end battle 7 – 3.

Blake Butler in the singles continued on his merry way over Noelene Abe and ran out a winner by getting to the 25-up mark before time ran out. The Butler win matched the 10 rink points that the pinnacles received and also grabbed a bigger ends advantage by winning 12 ends with Abe winning 7 ends, but she also received a bonus point by grabbing a full four to make it a total of 8 points to the Pinnacles total.

The second singles had tightened up considerably with Leeson working his way back into the game with a combination of drawing and big drives. A four on the thirteenth end gave him a bonus and going into the final end on the bell he had moved to the lead 15-14 over Davies. A single on the last end sealed the victory with another 10 rink points and 12 end and bonus points. Paul Davies strong start gave him a solid number of ends to add 8 points to the Pinnacle total.

At the halfway mark, Krstic had built a solid lead over Hyatt in the Pairs but slowly Hyatt and East had worked their way back and with a 5 on what became the second last end as the bell went, not only gave them a bonus point to match a previous 5 by Krstic but also meant they were only behind by a single shot to get the all-important rink win.

With the pairs the last rink on the green, the Stars lead the Pinnacles on the overall points 46-41, meaning a win or a draw to Krstic would make the Stars the Blitz Champions. Hyatt and East had charged back from an 8 shot deficit to get the Pinnacles back in the contest and with only a Krstic bowl remaining it looked like they could steal the title. Hyatt held shot with a measure for second shot giving them a chance but as Kristina Krstic has done to many bowlers around the country, she was about to break the Pinnacle’s hearts. A well-played runner saw the Krstic bowl sit the Hyatt shot bowl and for good measure stay for the shot to win her game and gain the valuable 10 points to see her Blooms the Chemist Stars team of Kristina Krstic, Blake Butler, Blake Nairn, Segan Pasalich, Joel Leeson, Ryan Brown, Matthew Whitely, Lisa Brannan and Manager Therese Hastings take the Inaugural Bowls Blitz title