As the butterflies churned in the stomach all week, Wednesday night rolled around, and it was time for the penultimate week of the Greatest Bowls Competition Between Manning Road and the Canning River, with Week 5 being the last week to decide which teams would crack the Top 6 and play off for sheep stations next week, and which teams would get punted over to the grass.
In golf, they’d call a night like this Moving Day.
Just to up the stakes, setting a bar so high that the likes of Steve Hooker couldn’t clear it, competition organiser Richard ‘Half’ Price drew the Top 12 teams after Week 4 at random against each other, provided they hadn’t played each other already, and by pure chance, the Top 4 teams were drawn against each other (Lawn Clippings vs Young Guns and Trevor Chappells vs Empire Strikes Jack), and with the Top 3 teams on 13 points, and 4 teams breathing down their necks on 12 points, the only guarantee on Wednesday night was that there was going to be some blood, sweat and tears shed on the hallowed greens of Manning Memorial.
Some teams would prove themselves Dustin Martins in the crunch… others would be Patrick Dangerfields.
As for the conditions, I can say it was the first time all season that jackets were used, because after a top of 25 degrees, the Doctor was still in by the evening, dropping the temperature down to 20 degrees Celsius by 6:30pm, with the apparent temperature only 17 degrees, meaning the greens were quicker than usual, but it was otherwise a superb night.
The Overall Night
Starting up at the pointy end, in an epic on ‘TV Rinkside’, The Lawn Clippings claimed the mythical minor premiership after coming from a set down to win in a tiebreak against the formerly unbeaten Young Guns, setting the grass cutters up for a shot at back-to-back Manning Jack Attack titles, while the poor old Young Guns ran out of ammo when it mattered most and missed the Top 4, despite 4 wins from 5 games.
In for 2nd Place, with a late finishing burst to rival Kiwi’s Melbourne Cup victory in 1983…
The Great Bowls of Fire!
Unbelievable – Todd and Jonesy’s team were sitting 7th after Week 4, needing to win in straight sets and for other results to go their way, and wouldn’t you believe it, they dispatched The Lenny’s (Who were 6th) in straight sets, the Top 4 tore shreds off each other, and the end result is the Jerry Lee Lewis tribute team are into the big dance!
Finishing in 3rd place were The Trevor Chappells, who came from a set down to defeat the Empire Strikes Jack in a tiebreak on Synthetic 2, and just to highlight how tight things were, if the Chappells lost the tiebreak, they would’ve finished in 8th place.
In 4th Place and filling the other half of the bronze medal playoff are The CD’s, who had the Young Guns watching on Green 4 praying they’d lose their tiebreak against Ten Pins, but Nat, Kelly and Helen crushed the boys’ spirits against the ten pin bowlers, who have now been involved in 5 tiebreaks in as many games.
As for the Empire Strikes Jack and the Young Guns, they’ll play off for 5th and 6th, and completing the Top 8 are The Habibs in 7th, and The Bowled & The Beautiful, who came home with a wet sail to claim 8th on shot variance.
There was also the small matter of who won the night, which was just as tense, because The Habibs defeated the T-Birds in straight sets by +13 shots, while the Great Bowls of Fire also won by +13 shots on the grass, with both teams being the only 4-point winners on the night, and the only teams to win by double figures.
But using the countback system, John and The Habibs took the $30 cash on ends won 9-8, and special mention should go to Abraham for his absurd tactic of setting the mat right at the end of the T from the bowler’s end, then setting the jack at the top of the opposite T, which definitely wasn’t the minimum 21 metres from the mat, but it was effective nonetheless.
And, in a Jack Attack FIRST, the Tie Break Turkeys took the $10 with +7 shots against the Crawshaw Crisis Committee after winning the 2nd Set 12-0, but, true to form, the Turkeys lost in a tiebreak, although after the season John and his team have endured, Pricey wasn’t giving it to anyone else.
In response, a disgusted Kym from Crawshaw is launching an appeal, and is also filing his membership form with the Como Bowling Club as you read this.
Overall, in a big tick to the handicapper, it was a very close night, with just 2 teams winning all 4 points, while 3 games had a drawn set, and 5 games were decided in tiebreaks, which should’ve been an all-time record of 7, but two games never had tiebreaks when they were supposed to.
On Grass 1, Team Pamba and The Breakaways finished early without playing a tiebreak, which wasn’t discovered until Thursday morning, so it was decided that Team Pamba would receive the extra point after being ahead 8-7 on shots, and you’ll remember last week that Merkins had to play an abridged tiebreak against Dyed On The Run after both teams forgot the rules…
Well, Merkins did it again, this time forgetting to play a tiebreak against Burrendah on Grass 5, and with everything packed away and the floodlights switched off, Pricey simply decided it on the night with a coin toss, and Burrendah guessed correctly to win the extra point, which also had the big effect of lifting them off the bottom of the ladder, leaving Dyed On The Run facing the prospect of a wooden spoon.
Well, on the bright side for Noelene and the gang, they might win something!
Scoring: 2 points for a set win, 1 point for a drawn set/tiebreak win, tiebreaks are not counted in shot variance
Grass 1: Team Pamba (3pts +1) defeated The Breakaways (2pts -1), 3-5, 5-2, No tiebreak played, Team Pamba awarded tiebreak on shot variance 8-7
Grass 2: Great Bowls of Fire (4pts +13) defeated The Lenny’s, 7-0, 8-2
Grass 3: Bowled & The Beautiful (3pts +4) defeated Missing Moo’s (1pt -4), 7-3, 3-3
Grass 4: CD’s (3pts -2) defeated Ten Pins (2pts +2), 4-3, 2-5, 2-0 in the tiebreak
Grass 5: Burrendah (3pts +2) defeated Merkins (2pts -2), 4-5, 5-2, no tiebreak played, Burrendah won the tiebreak in a coin toss
Synthetic 1: Top Shots (3pts +4) defeated Dyed On The Run (1pt -4), 6-2, 4-4
Synthetic 2: Trevor Chappells (3pts +5) defeated The Empire Strikes Jack (2pts -5), 4-9, 12-2, 3-0 in the tiebreak
Synthetic 3: The Habibs (4pts +13) defeated T-Birds, 7-1, 7-0
Synthetic 4: Lawn Clippings (3pts -3) defeated Young Guns (2pts +3), 4-10, 5-2, 2-0 in the tiebreak
Synthetic 5: Crawshaw CC (3pts -7) defeated Tie Break Turkeys (2pts +7), 7-2, 0-12, 2-0 in the tiebreak
Synthetic 6: Soft Girls (3pts 0) defeated Bowling Stones (2pts 0), 9-3, 1-7, 2-0 in the tiebreak
Synthetic 7: Unbelievabowls (3pts +6) defeated Dream Team (1pt -6), 7-1, 3-3
Todd/Kochie, Great Bowls Of Fire: “Great team effort tonight, I knew we needed to win in straight sets, but everything just worked, I don’t know what else to say, we’re playing in the Grand Final, I can’t believe it!”
“I’d also like to congratulate the guy that created the 1 point for a tiebreak rule, he’s a legend!”
Hmmmm, I wonder who that was…..
Brodie, Young Guns: “We’re Patrick Dangerfield in big moments.”
Nat, Kelly, Helen, CD’s: “We’re excited to show up next week, knowing that whatever happens, our drinking money is guaranteed to up by 3 figures, and it’s also going into our end of season trip to the Bahamas!”
The Bahamas… It looks more like Hilton.
John, Tie Break Turkeys: “Proud of the boys tonight, 5 losses in a row, but we’re confident that we won’t be relegated.”
Kym from Crawshaw Crescent: “We’re putting in a protest to the stewards – What’s more important, premiership points or percentage?”
“We were sorry for the Tie Break Turkeys – Give them 1 set, make them feel good, then wipe them in the tiebreak, and they still win the money – But seriously, what is more important, premiership points or percentage!”
“We’re definitely looking at playing at Como next week.”
Random fact: The Habibs have the most 4-point wins of any team, with 3.
The Movers: The Great Bowls of Fire jumped from 7th to 2nd, The Habibs went from 10th to 7th, and the Bowled & The Beautiful went from 11th to 8th.
The Shakers: Young Guns fell from 2nd to 5th, Empire Strikes Jack fell from 3rd to 6th, The Lenny’s fell from 6th to 10th, and the T-Birds fell from 8th to 14th.
Trevor Chappells vs Empire Strikes Jack
With their season sitting on a knife’s edge after another tiebreak defeat against the Young Guns last Wednesday, the Trevor Chappells were left at the mercy of Half Price’s random Top 12 draw, and despite being exempt from drawing the Lawn Clippings due to playing them in the COVID Cup, they were drawn against the highest-ranked remaining opponent…
Darth Vader’s favourite bowls team, The Empire Strikes Jack
Those of you who read the reports last year will remember the Empire Strikes Jack as The Bowlsheviks/Bowlshoviks, which goes to show they’ve got a handy strike rate on punny team names.
So the ESJ were captained by Alex, who bowled as the skip, and he was joined by mollydooker Richard and Greg, and with the ESJ 3rd and the Trevor Chappells 4th, a straight sets win for either team would make a certainty of a Top 2 finish, given the Lawn Clippings were drawn against the Young Guns, but a tied set or a tiebreak win, and it would be time to whip out the calculators.
Bowl Colours: Alex (Dark Red), Richard (Black with Gold & Black Star), Greg (Yellow), Jason (Black & Green), Ronni (Orange), Ron (Black & White With Shark)
1st Set (Empire Strikes Jack 9-4)
The Empire Strikes Jack won the toss and bowled first, which also them first crack at their preferred tactic of placing the mat halfway up the T and setting the jack for what would be considered a short end by the average bowler’s standards:
I will say this – You don’t get too many games in Jack Attack where teams will set the mat beyond 3 metres beyond the back of the T, usually because most players will just focus on setting the jack and leave the mat, which definitely added an extra element to the tactical fight on Wednesday night.
So on the 1st End Jason was ahead after the leads, but bowling second, Richard took the jack, setting up what might’ve been a close measurement:
But skip Alex got rid of any doubt with a backhand that also hit the jack, nudging it close enough to Richard’s shot that the Empire were holding 2 to begin the night.
The Empire asserted their authority again on the 2nd End, as Greg and Richard held 2 to set up an early 4-0 lead, with Ron’s back bowl saving it from being 3.
Going on the attack, Alex called the powerplay on the 3rd End, but it was Ronni who was on track to stifle the powerplay approaching the skips.
With another smooth backhand, Alex looked like he’d turned 1 into 2 by taking the hold with Ron’s final bowl to come, but those back bowls in the bottom right would still have a part to play:
After his first shot was hopelessly shallow, Ron adjusted his weight and got it absolutely perfectly right, not only hitting the jack, but hitting it far enough away from the original holder to produce a 5-shot turnaround:
1 shot down into 4 up, tying the scores at 4 apiece, all thanks to 1 shot, and it’s important to note that Ron did get a drinks voucher from Andy Lill for touching the jack, and he bloody well earned it.
It looked the Chappells might build on the momentum generated off finally winning an end, with Jason holding after the leads:
With a shot sitting out in the open like President Kennedy in an open top car, it was liable to get hit, and Richard crucially hit the shot out to put Greg back ahead, and Alex put the Empire Strikes Jack back in the lead by doubling the hold, and perhaps more importantly, regaining the mat:
So it was 6-4 with an end to play, but the Trevor Chappells had held off the powerplay until the final end (As we usually do) as some kind of break the glass in case of emergency plan, however in this case the glass shattered and the shards promptly sprayed us, because the Empire Strikes Back took the 1st Set with a rather simple hold of 3, capped off by Alex sitting a shot right on the Jack, as you can see in the photo.
So it was a 9-4 1st Set win to the Empire Strikes Jack, who had unleashed the Death Star on the Trevor Chappells and just about knocked them out of Top 2 contention, and it looked like they were marching on to the Grand Final.
But, there’s always a Part 2 to these stories.
2nd Set (Trevor Chappells 12-2)
Beginning the 2nd Set with the same standard tactics that had served them well through the opening 5 ends, the Empire Strikes Jack were unable to establish an early lead in the 2nd Set after Jason took the hold on the opening end, with the 2nd shot going to Alex with a back bowl that didn’t make it into this photo, so little did we think of it after seeing the end:
It was only 1-0, but more crucially, the Trevor Chappells had regained the mat, and they could start setting some longer ends and pull the ESJ out of their comfort zone to get back into the game.
It paid immediate dividends on the 2nd End, as Jason held from the lead through to the skips, and Ron turned 1 into a comfortable hold of 2 a very smooth forehand, pushing the lead out to 3-0.
Just as they did in the 1st Set, the Empire Strikes Jack called the powerplay on the 3rd End, and once again, they seemed to strike trouble on a longer end, landing 1 shot out of 6 in the head, but showing that 1 shot is all it takes, Alex slid across and held to turn 1 into 2 on the powerplay:
With the score moving on to 3-2, the Trevor Chappells hit straight back thanks to Ronni, whose shot was unmatched all the way through to the skips, and with Alex unable to respond, Ron added the caviar to the cake by landing both his shots in the head, with the second shot hitting the jack on to Ronni to add the caviar to the hold of 3, with Greg’s jack high bowl getting fourth shot from Jason in a close measurement.
Leading 6-2 with a powerplay to come on the final end, the jack was going long again, and on the first bowl, Jason hit the jack on a shot that carried long, but more importantly, the Empire Strikes Jack weren’t even getting close to the head, and with no back bowls in play, everyone knew it was going to a tie break before the skips had even set foot on the mat.
In the wash-up, the Trevor Chappells held 3 (Turned into 6) on the powerplay, with Ronni closest, JT second, Ron third, and Richard (In the middle of the photo) had fourth shot, which also meant the Chappells would be able to set the length for the tiebreak.
With the powerplay amplifying the damage, it was a 12-2 set win to the Trevor Chappells, and crucially, they had turned a 5-shot deficit after the 1st Set to finish ahead by 5 shots on shot variance, which would be crucial with how many teams were tied on points.
But, variance wouldn’t matter if the tiebreak was lost, and with the Trevor Chappells having a worse recent record in tiebreak ends than the English football team had in penalty shootouts, there was plenty of nerves on Synthetic 2.
Tiebreak (3-0 Trevor Chappells)
The main reason the Trevor Chappells had lost both their past tiebreaks this season (Against Ten Pins and the Young Guns) was being unable to land early shots in the head, which had heaped even more pressure on Ron bowling as the skip, but when it mattered most, Ronni proved herself a Dustin Martin-esque performer to edge out Greg and hold through to the skips.
Due to his pessimism, Jason was certain Alex was going to embody the spirit of Dom Sheed in the 2018 Grand Final and win it at the death, but the skip’s shots just had too much weight on them (The one drawback of narrow bowls in cool weather is that they seem to carry through), but conversely, Ron added the gloss and got both his bowls into the hold, giving the Trevor Chappells a hold of 3 in the tiebreak, securing themselves what turned out to be 3rd place after a hard fought game of bowls.
In my final analysis, I could say the thermal exhaust port of the Empire Strikes Jack was long ends, and the rebel Trevor Chappells just kept firing down proton torpedos, ultimately bringing them undone:
Here’s a little teaser for next week – JT has something special on the way in the fight for 3rd against the CD’s…
To quote Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, DON’T YOU WORRY ABOUT THAT.
Categories: Lawn Bowls