Still Number One
Queensland fans will have no fingernails left, after a heart-stopping win over NSW this morning. Queensland’s Alley Shield campaign is gathering steam, following a dramatic one-shot win over New South Wales this morning.
The Mighty Maroons pulled off a nail-biting come-from-behind victory over their archrivals, 56-55, during a high-octane clash at South Burnie Bowls Club.
“It’s a massive win for us and it’s a great feeling,” said Queensland skip Nathan Rice.
“But we can’t rest now, we’ve got two big games to go and we have to kick on and make sure we win.”
Rice’s boys (Mark Thatcher, Sean Baker and Robert Wild) turned out to be the heroes of the hour, despite dropping their rink 13-22.
The Maroons had looked in strife, trailing NSW by eight on the big board with only a handful of ends to go.
But with Kelvin Kerkow’s rink leading the charge, the boys rallied, taking five across three rinks and cutting NSW lead to three.
Kerkow’s gun rink of Darren Mullens, Anthony Kiepe and Brett Wilkie wrapped up Aron Sherriff, 20-11, giving Queensland their only rink-win of the match.
Casey’s boys went down 20-22 to Shane Garvey’s side, but not before adding 2-1 to level the score at 55-all.
Enter Rice and Co, who despite trailing David Ferguson’s boys 12-22 had won their last three ends in a row.
As Casey played his last bowl to steal shot and tie up the game, on the next rink Rice was down in the head.
Determined not to be the cause of Queensland’s downfall, Lurch stepped up the mat and drove straight through the head, killing the end.
With the end reset, Queensland’s boys gave it all they had, with Sean Baker in particular deserving kudos for playing two beautiful bowls for first and second shot.
With Queensland holding three, Ferguson tried to rattle the head and was on target, but couldn’t dislodge Queensland’s shot bowl.
Still holding that all-important shot, Lurch played safe to cover the back.
Ferguson had just one more chance to make the difference and he went for the same shot again…and again the Blues skip was bang on.
But while his bowl was on target, it hadn’t the power to take out Baker’s and Queensland clinched the critical game by one, 56-55.
“It was such a relief,” Rice said after the game.
“Our rink was really battling in that game. The NSW boys played really well against us and they could have run away with a big score, but we hung tight.
“We knew we were still in the match overall, so we tried to keep their score down as low as we could.
“Sean Baker played an absolute bomb in that last end to give us two, he deserves a lot of credit.
“We know we have to do better as a rink, but it does make up for it a little bit, getting the win like that.
“We’re here as a team of 12 and as long as we keep winning on big board, that’s what it’s all about,” Rice said.
Queensland went into the Round 5 clash desperate to hold onto their spot at the top of this year’s Australian Sides ladder.
A loss could have seen the Maroons slip from first to fourth, due to their low rink-tally.
“We really needed this win,” said state coach Bill Cornehls.
“NSW are an extremely good team, with plenty of star players, so to get the win over them is fantastic.
“I’m really happy for our boys, they showed a lot of pride and passion out there. To come from eight or 10 down with just a few ends to go and win the way they did is a testament to how good these guys are.”
But Cornehls also warned there is no time for complacency.
“We’re still very much in the same situation as before. We have two games to go and because of our low rink tally, they are two must-win games.
“A loss could be disastrous,” Cornehls said.
Queensland’s men take on West Australia in this afternoon’s Round 6 clash, with the championship reaching its climax tomorrow morning against South Australia.
In other Round 5 games Victoria beat West Australia 59-46, while South Australia edged past Northern Territory 73-61.ACT also had a win, beating Tasmania 59-50.