Three in a row
NSW men take third consecutive title, Australian Senior Sides 2014, QLD men runners up. WA women go one better this year, beating defending champs Victoria into fourth place, NSW second, Queensland third. Senior State Sides is always a tough and close competition, with most of the bowlers aged 60 and over well versed in the art of pressure bowls, many with decades of experience under their belts, at district, state, national and international level.
The windy conditions at Tweed Heads threw in a curve ball, with irregular gusts bouncing off the surrounding skyscrapers and challenging all teams to find their best games.
Queensland hoped for a double slam on home soil, but it wasn’t to be, NSW men well-deserving their hat trick of three consecutive wins.
WA women, runners up last year, went one better this year, defending champs Victoria finishing out of the medals, in fourth place, with NSW women runners up, and Queensland third, ahead of Victoria.
“We lost on rink wins in Geelong last year, but this year, we made sure of it, it was great to win outright,” WA women’s manager Sue Hogg said.
“That’s the hat-trick!” NSW men’s manager Richie Clutterbuck said, as he hoisted the trophy, the Blues boys raising three fingers to show three consecutive years of triumphs.
Queensland men also played with magic in their fingers in the trying conditions, not consistently enough to beat NSW, but they claimed the silver medal and runners up position.
Queensland women felt the pain of being relegated to third spot, after their final rink to finish today failed by two shots over South Australia.
“We lost by two on the last end, it costs us a silver medal, under pressure we buckled,” skip Patty Elliott said, “It hurts!”
But Senior State Sides is about more than winning, and as usual, the trophy winners were gracious in victory.
“When we come to Senior State Sides, our first priority is to make friends,” WA women’s manager Sue Hogg said, “And we have all had a fantastic time, thanks to all of you.”
“Our second priority is to win the tournament, and you haven’t made it easy for us, we’ve slogged it out all the way, thanks to Bowls World WA for supporting our senior bowlers, and to our WA men for supporting us all the way.”
Richie Clutterbuck for NSW men was similarly generous.
“I’d like to especially acknowledge Northern Territory men, they come each year, and thank you so much, we love your company,” Clutterbuck said.
NSW has fielded such strong sides over the past three years that they have been UNDEFEATED at an Australian Senior Sides Championships – until today, in their final game, against Victoria, at Tweed Heads.
“Well done Victoria, you topped us in every way today, the boys might have been relaxing a bit because we knew we’d won the trophy, but still, I can’t take anything away from you, you put in a truly great performance today,” Clutterbuck said.
“Also thanks for doing what you did for us yesterday, against Queensland!!!” (Victoria beat Queensland men yesterday by one shot, securing the title for NSW, and setting the Queensland boys a challenge, to win their final round today against South Australia, if they wanted to make sure of the runners-up spot.)
Queensland’s most valuable players this year were super-skips Jenny Blundell and Geoff Hawken.
Blundell, from Everton Park Bowls Club, played with three newbies to Over 60s bowls, Adele Pershouse from Bargara (only four years in the game), Sue Hunter from Northern Beaches Mackay, and Lynn Long from Pialba Services.
“They might be new to the Senior Sides but these girls know how to play and they know how to fight back,” Blundell said. “They were fantastic!”
Blundell has been playing bowls for three decades longer than Pershouse, taking to the green when she lived in Cunnamulla 34 years ago, when her youngest child went off to pre-school.
For Tasmania’s team managers Peter Zoon and Carol Bannister, it was their first time at an Australian Senior Sides Championships, and they couldn’t say enough about how well Bowls Queensland and Tweed Heads Bowls Club organised and ran the tournament.
“It made it so easy for us, it was a very professional service, the greens were excellent, the facilities at Tweed Heads are unreal,” Bannister said.
Launceston, Tasmania, will be host club for Australian Senior Sides Championships in 2015.
Today’s winners photos courtesy of Stu Taylor