Mighty Maroons chasing down title
New South Wales will be the next big test for Queensland’s men. Queensland’s Alley Shield campaign is gathering speed, with the Maroons pulling off a four-shot win over powerhouse side Victoria at South Burnie Bowls Club this morning, 54-50.
“It was a great team effort from the boys,” state coach Bill Cornehls said.
“Victoria are a very good side, they’ve got some excellent players and the conditions probably suit them a little better, so it’s very pleasing to get the win over them.
“The boys really pulled together and played as a team of 12, which is exactly what we needed to do.”
Mark Casey’s rink of Brendon Egan, Alex Murtagh and Anthony Fantini was once again the star performer, pummelling Aaron Wilson’s Victorian four, 21-11.
But it was a real team effort in Tasmania, with skips Kelvin Kerkow and Nathan Rice fighting hard to ensure Queensland stayed above the line in an extremely tight match.
Rice’s team (Mark Thatcher, Sean Baker and Robert Wild) had a particularly tough test against Victoria’s gun rink, led by Rice’s Commonwealth Games teammate Matthew Flapper.
The Queensland four fell behind early in the match, before battling their way back to overtake Flapper’s outfit.
The teams were neck-and-neck in the dying ends, until a moment of magic saw Flapper covert a Queensland head to pick up three, before taking the game 17-14.
By the time Casey wrapped up his game 21-11, Kerkow’s side of Darren Mullens, Anthony Kiepe and Brett Wilkie were on their last end and holding shot.
With Queensland up 54-48 on the big board, Victoria needed six to draw and seven to win. It was an impossible task against a team of Queensland’s calibre, but that didn’t stop them trying.
Australian rep Barrie Lester (playing third for Wayne Roberts) killed the end twice, as Victoria struggled to build up the requisite head.
He would have killed it again, but his third attempt was off target and Victoria was forced to settle for two, handing Queensland the 54-50 win.
The win saw Queensland move into second on the ladder, just behind South Australia on shot difference, while Victoria slipped to third.
Queensland are now favourites for the title, but with four rounds to go, there is still a lot of bowls to play.
“We’ve won three-from-three, which is great, but it’s way too early to start thinking about titles,” Cornehls said.
“Every game at this level is tough…you can’t start easing off or you’re going to get beaten. “South Australia, New South Wales and West Australia are going to be massive challenges.
“SA are undefeated and NSW are always one of the top teams. The fact that they lost to SA in round one means they’ll be that much hungrier in all their other games.
“WA are always a really tough team as well and even ACT, who we play this afternoon, have run us close a number of times. So we’re not taking any match lightly,” Cornehls said.
If Queensland and SA can remain undefeated, the competition could come down to a winner takes all grand finale on Thursday morning.
In other Round 3 games, NSW edged out WA 63-61 to all but end the Sandgropers’ Australian Sides title hopes.
SA continued their unbeaten run with a 61-49 victory over ACT ,and Tasmania took out their frustration on the NT, smashing the northerners 91-29.