Lawn Bowls

The Manning Thursday 5th Division Pennants Update: Week 11

After a comfortable 6-0 win against the struggling Belmont City last Thursday to jump into 4th place on the Division 5 White ladder, the brave band of geriatrics and lethargic leads of the Manning Eagles, armed with a couple of handy reinforcements due to absent players, ventured across the Narrows Bridge on yet another 40 degree day in Perth, to take on 2nd placed Dalkeith Nedlands.

Hint: we didn’t get to play on that lovely looking green

For those of you unfamiliar with rich Perth suburbs, the Dalkeith Nedlands Bowling Club is located on a fabled street called Jutland Parade, which frequently features in the list of Australia’s most expensive streets, and is (rather famously) the former residence of frequent Kevin Bloody Wilson target Alan Bond, who packed up and left the area in 1985 when he was outdone by an Aboriginal family from Meekatharra.

Unlike them, we did not arrive on Jutland Parade in a burned-out blue FJ.

Now, back in Round 2 of this Division 5 White season, Dalkeith Nedlands positively smashed the crap out of Manning at Manning, winning 72-47 overall and claiming all 6 points, and that was in spite of Manning being up 15-2 after 12 ends on one particular rink….

Only for the visitors to spectacularly rip back and win 25-16.

Despite the BOM forecast making me think play might get called off due to the 40 degree Celsius heat policy kicking in (Which it did at some clubs across Perth), we had the good fortune of playing at a club situated next door to the Swan River, so we copped a constant refreshing sea breeze all day, keeping the temperatures in the mid-30s, which is now classified as a cool change in Perth with our 6-day run of 40 degree weather, and it was a good thing the day went ahead, because to cut a long story short….

We pulled the rug out and beat them all ends up.

Yes, you read that correctly, despite having the lowest chance of victory of all 6 Manning teams on Thursday, the 5th Division crew pulled off a major upset and won 2 rinks out of 3 to win 65-51 overall, on the road, against 2nd, to make it a hat-trick of wins to start 2022.

The win was anchored by the fantastic 28-12 victory to Smiley’s team, who clearly don’t need me anymore, as they gained the services of Manning Jack Attack regular Graeme (from Team Pamba), who took advantage of no Saturday pennants this week due to the WA State Singles to play his first Thursday game of the season, and he fit in to Smiley’s team (also featuring Ron and Glyn) like Cinderella fit in to that glass slipper, at least from what I saw, because his big blue bowls stood out in the sunshine.

Over on the rink that yours truly featured on, after going for a holiday and missing last week, this was my first game with 5 White’s resident Englishman ‘Fast Freddie’ Cockerell, who might be the only Englishman to get a win in Australia this summer, and we were joined by Andrew from the Wednesday Pakkers, who I’d never bowled with before, and Kim, who gave us a lift to Jutland Parade in his ute with its giant-arse roo bar, in case we needed to take out any unwanted Kwinana Freeway traffic.

Interestingly, 2 out of the 4 Dalkeith players we played against were in the Top 10 on the player ladder, one of whom was my opposite lead (Tom James, minus The Shondells), but the blowtorch was well and truly on the hosts a mere 4 ends in, when we bagged a hold of 5 to go up 7-2, which was followed by a remarkable 7th End, in which Kim had to go a drive after we went down 2 shots, and you wouldn’t believe it, he got the jack dead centre, took it to the edge of the ditch, and we had 4 catchers out the back, combined with Kim’s toucher in the ditch, to hold 5 with the skips to come.

While Fred got both of his bowls in the count, Dalkeith’s skip Peter was luckless and managed to wick my closest bowl twice before his bowls landed in the ditch, and thus, for the first time ever, I held a 7 in a pennants game.

Fred was the black, Kim was the blue, Andrew had the greys, and I was the yellow & grey

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the nooks and crannies of pennants bowls, if your team holds all 8 shots on an end in a pennant game, you’re entitled to receive an ‘8 Badge’ in recognition of the achievement – Ironically, Kim’s first bowl was well short, which meant he set up the 7 and cost us the 8 at the same time.

We eventually went up 18-9 after 13 ends as Andrew warmed up and landed a solid handful of touchers, but as to be expected, Dalkeith Nedlands came back as I went off the boil through the middle part of the game, thanks to Tom landing shot after shot, but importantly we kept the scoreboard tight and restricted the hosts to 1s and 2s, and eventually I changed hands and bowled narrow, which seemed to work, and the scoreboard still read 20-12 with 4 ends to come.

One interesting tactic that the Dalkeith team used after going behind, on the instruction of skip Peter, was to place the mat at the start of the line and set the jack on the T, in an attempt to throw us off, but I don’t think it had the desired effect, because we adjusted well enough, and Tom twice committed the cardinal sin of tossing the jack in the ditch, which allowed me to move the mat back and set an end to our liking.

By the way, that crane is for a house being built by Kerry Stokes… allegedly.

Not that I can criticise Tom, because I did the same thing on the 13th end, but luckily I had a few good teammates to cover my arse.

Keeping up the comeback, Dalkeith Nedlands got a 3 on the penultimate end to make the score 20-17, the only time they held more than 2 all day, and keeping us guessing, Tom landed his first shot on the jack, but myself and Andrew pretty much finished the game off when we got the second and third holders on either side of the jack, with a bit of cover to boot, forcing Dalkeith to get desperate and go for a couple of unsuccessful drives to knock us off.

Ultimately, Dalkeith paid the price when Peter played the wrong shot, hit Tom’s holder and sent the jack between Kim’s back bowls, pretty much sealing the rink for us.

For the record, Fred added another shot to the hold on that final end, so the final score was 23-17, with the two ends of 5 and 7 having an enormous effect on the game, and it meant we were never in serious danger of losing the aggregate, even as Royce’s team dropped away late and lost the third rink 22-14.

My team on the left, Smiley in the middle, and Royce’s team on the right

That means that despite all of our wild inconsistency this season, the Eagles are still the only team in the division to defeat runaway ladder leaders Rossmoyne, and now we’ve knocked off 2nd place on their own dungheap.

It turned out to be a crucial result in the context of the season, because Rossmoyne are now 7.5 points clear of Dalkeith-Nedlands on top (6 points is the maximum available), while Victoria Park-Carlisle, breathing right down our necks, took all 6 points against Willeton, and two of our nearest rivals on the ladder were the benefits of forfeitures.

3rd placed Kardinya were due to play Belmont City, but Belmont City had to forfeit for the second time in 3 weeks as their ugly battle with the Belmont Sport and Recreation Club seemingly rages on (Their green is out of action and they have to play home games at Como), and the other forfeiture was Mt Pleasant against 5th placed Thornlie, with Mt Pleasant having recently been caught in a fight with the former Melville Council just to keep their land, but as for what went down last Thursday, only they know.

So the final bit of good news – Manning are still 4th.

The final bit of bad news – We’ve got a trip to Kardinya on Thursday.

It’s synthetic, and it’s probably going to be undercover.

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