Gail weathers Clarke storm to clinch crown
When faced with the Australian Captain and the brightest young star in Queensland in a State Pairs final, what do you do?Gail Waitai and Ruth Smith decided to show them who’s boss by taking an early lead.
A five shot end placed Waitai ahead, 11-4, but Clarke wasn’t to be muscled out so easily, as quickly reduced the difference to three, and the ding-dong battle carried on.
Smith, in her first State tournament, stood up to the talented competition.
“I just wanted to play well for Gail,” she said. “I was a little anxious I must admit.”
But Waitai, and the debutant Smith, were having one of it. They focused sharply and streaked to a 21-9 lead in the 13th end.
“We got a terrific lead, and Ruth played extremely well,” said Waitai.
A relaxed looking Clarke and Jones decided to play short, and it paid dividends.
“We had a chat about what we wanted to do. We usually win on long ends, but weren’t so we decided to tighten up and go short,” confirmed Clarke.
Putting pedal to the metal they drew level on the 19th.
“It was looking like a big flogging, but we thought we could win it,” explained Clarke.
As the heads grew tighter the wily Waitai blocked Clarke’s late surge to lift the title, 23-21, after an all you can eat buffet of bowls.
“We’re over the moon,” beamed Waitai, who can add this title to Singles titles won in 2005 and 2010.
Meanwhile, the Over 60’s final was a much more even affair, the scores only differing by a high of three on one occasion.
Leigh Fortington and her late substitute partner, Johanna Cunningham, were up against Wendy Jamieson and Pauline Rose.
A sedate pace centred on thoughtful bowls unfolding with no one willing to stand tall, each end cancelling the previous one out.
Rose scored big, but infrequently, giving the slowly, slowly catchy monkey approach of Fortington a chance to keep in touch.
“It was just a matter of ones and twos,” said Fortington.
But Rose still kept a slim lead regardless of the challenger’s continuous pressure.
Then daylight peaked through at 20-17 on the penultimate end.
Fortington’s chance to claim the crown came as she secured four, and with it the title, much to the chagrin of Rose and her partner Jamieson.