Victory delayed is sweeter
Intense finals see new men’s and women’s Triples champions crack the code, after years of finishing second. Pic Dean McWhinney, ‘dad’ Graeme Shillington, and mate and Irish international Shane Leonard.
Pic and story by John Reynolds
Perennial triples runners-up Dean McWhinney and Graeme Shillington have “at long last” broken the drought to take the championship title from last year’s winner Neville Jenkins.
In a game that rarely saw anyone in front by more than a couple of shots, skip McWhinney dropped in a corker of a shot on the last end to secure victory over Jenkins 18-17.
Lead Shillington was jubilant at finally taking victory with his son McWhinney and Irish mate Shane Leonard.
“We have been runners up in this competition so many times I was starting to think we would never get there,” Shillo said.
“We had to bring in the luck of an Irishman to win it on Friday the 13th! It couldn’t have been better.”
McWhinney rocketed out of the gate from the start, taking a 7-0 lead on the first end.
But Jenkins’ team of lead Rob Dobinson and Nigel Smith refused to panic and slowly but surely started to peg team McWhinney back.
By the mid-way point they had levelled the score and at one stage even took a two point lead.
But McWhinney was not to be outdone and seized back the lead just a few ends later.
At the second last end the score was 17-17 until McWhinney rolled down a perfect shot to rest his bowl on the jack.
The young skip was almost as pleased as Shillington with their win.
“It was one of the closest games I’ve played and Neville was always on target,” McWhinney said. “We have been runners up so many times, it is great to finally come away with the win.”
Jenkins was philosophical about his loss.
“That 7-0 score at the start really had us struggling for a while,” Jenkins said. “After that we really did nothing but chase.
“We managed to close the gap but we never really recovered. That first end really hurt us.”
Bowls Australia president Nigel Smith from South Tweed said he was happy with the game, despite the loss.
“It was a great game to play and a great game to watch,” Smith said. “Everyone played as they were supposed to play but it just wasn’t our day in the end.”
The women’s triples final also saw regular runners-up take the championship trophy for the first time.
Young twins Bolivia and Cassandra Millerick once again teemed with their long-time mentor and partner Karen Goldsworthy in the women’s triples final.
They play it every year together just waiting for the break and unlike in 2014 and 2015, where they came second, this time victory for the three women was never really under cloud.
The gun Broadbeach triple of Lyn Cuthbertson, Sue McKenzie and Melissa Larcombe (skip) just didn’t fire like they usually do in the final, only occasionally coming close to taking the lead.
(Larcombe was also runner up in the State Mixed Pairs two days earlier, the only person to have medalled in both of the state title events held so far.)
In the end, the gold was well deserved by the Millerick team, a resounding 20-10 victory.
“How good is this?” an elated Bolivia asked her teammates. “This is absolutely fantastic.”
Cassandra said the win was especially thrilling after being runners up two years in a row.
“We worked hard for it,” Cass said. “We just played steadily and kept our concentration.”
Larcombe was gracious in defeat, congratulating the three victors for their skill and sportsmanship.
“They really outplayed us today,” Larcombe said.
She had strong praise for the Millerick sisters; she has played with both before at state level.
“They are great young players and deserve their success,” Larcombe said. “I didn’t come here wanting to lose, but if I had to lose to someone, I am glad it was them.
“They are like daughters to me.”