With the recent Manning Jack Attack a distant memory and the Community Shield having come and gone, it seemed like we’d be having a quiet time on the Manning community bowls scene, but in late April, Clive ‘The Scribe’ Adams, in his role as the Northern WA Regional Bowls Manager for Bowls Australia, sent an email to Richard ‘Half’ Price letting him know that a team had withdrawn from a Bowls Australia ‘Jack Attack Champion of Champions’ pilot event for the North of the River bowling clubs to be held on April 27 (It was later pushed back to May 11) at North Perth Bowling Club, and invited Manning to take part in the event, potentially due to the club’s long history with running Jack Attack.
Of course, Manning’s current champion Jack Attack team is the Great Bowls of Fire, who represented the club with great dishonour in the Community Shield, and after Pricey let them know they’d been invited, the Jerry Lee Lewis tribute team of Todd, Bruce, Jonesy and Rede (With yours truly as team manager & taxi driver) were eager to get back on the rink for another shot at the best social bowlers that Perth has to offer, and to show everyone their top notch team shirts that debuted at the Community Shield.
So after a few weeks of practice, including the Community Shield at Hilton Park, the time came for our merry band of southern invaders to cross the Narrows Bridge through Wednesday evening peak hour traffic for what could be called the Jack Attack Challenge, all run under the auspices of Mr Adams, with the champion social teams from North Perth, Manning, Mosman Park and Ellenbrook represented in this pilot event, which had been trialled successfully by Bowls Australia in Melbourne, and had now made it’s way to Perth.
As for the format, it was close enough to Bowls Australia’s classic Jack Attack rules; Triples format, 2 bowls per team, 2 sets of 5 ends, a tiebreak if both teams win a set, if the jack is hit out of bounds it gets re-spotted on the T, if the jack is hit in the ditch it stays there, any bowl of out bounds or in the ditch is dead (A rule to discourage driving), no skips up the opposite end, and teams are allowed to spot the jack wherever they wish after winning an end, which was a godsend for Jonesy, given his uncanny knack for chucking the jack into the ditch.
When it came to the fixtures, every team would play 2 games – A de facto semi final to begin the night, followed by the losers playing off for 3rd, and the two winners competing for the inaugural Jack Attack Shield, provided by Clive:
So if I could give a footballing comparison between the Jack Attack Challenge and the Community Shield, I would say the Jack Attack Challenge is akin to the old European Cup, where only the champions of the respective leagues qualified, whereas the Community Shield is the current Champions League, where you can have multiple teams from the same competition.
On the weather front, it was a mild evening (16 degrees and humid) with storm clouds quite literally brewing off the coast of Western Australia, which was alarmingly the first threat of rain in Perth this month, and it did sprinkle during the evening as a band passed over the northern suburbs, but luckily we got through both games without incident.
Game 1: Manning vs Ellenbrook
After a roll-up, a lovely dinner provided by North Perth, and a rundown from Clive, the games began at 6:30 sharp, and first-up the Great Bowls of Fire took on the Ellenbrook crew, featuring Wally, the Scotsman from Scotland with a bowling arm, alongside his son-in-law Paul and daughter Laura, and having 4 players in a game of Triples, the Great Bowls would obviously rotate one player out after every end, which continued throughout the night regardless of who bowled like a spud on the end.
In the 1st Set, it was a fairly even start between the teams, with the Great Bowls picking up 1 to start the game, followed by Ellenbrook landing 2 thanks to Paul and Laura, but the Great Bowls got the scores back level on the 3rd End when Wally’s arm was so accurate he inadvertently gave away the shot by knocking the jack to Todd’s back bowl.
However, the set was all over bar the shouting thanks to a decisive 4th End powerplay from Ellenbrook, which began when Paul landed one on the jack to start the end (A theme that continued throughout the game), and Wally and Laura came in to add two more, the Great Bowls couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat, thus 3 shots turned into 6 to blow the score out to 8-2, although the Great Bowls could attempt to save themselves with their own powerplay to come on the final end.
In that final end, the good news was that the Great Bowls did hold shot thanks to a lovely bowl from Bruce that finished jack high and a foot away, but the bad news was that 1 shot turned into 2 was all they got, so Ellenbrook won the 1st Set 8-4, although in an odd quirk, the Great Bowls won more ends 3-2.
If the 1st Set was something resembling an arm wrestle, then the 2nd Set was like watching a road train run over a kangaroo, and it started right from the 1st End, as Laura dropped a resting toucher on the jack, Wally and Paul then had Ellenbrook holding 3, but Todd did well just to cut a shot out, and only just missed 2nd shot.
Down a set and 2-0, the water was well and truly poured on the Great Bowls of Fire when they took their powerplay on the 2nd End, because Paul took the jack and Ellenbrook were holding 3 shots, and the only Great Bowls in the head were Jonesy and Bruce keeping them from being 5 down:
In a desperate move that had to be attempted, Todd went for a drive after Wally added another shot into the count, because Jonesy had at least one back bowl that would come in play if the jack went out the back, and the full blooded shot did clean out a few bowls, including the holder…
The only problem was, it sent Jonesy’s bowl all the way back to Manning, one of Bruce’s bowls was too far away to be meaningful, but the most damaging part of all was that it barely moved the jack, so most of the bowls that Todd hit stayed in the count, and the end consequence of it all was that ELLENBROOK HELD 5:
Obviously it wasn’t a 6, but I’d like to see some kind of ironic punishment for teams that give up 6 shots when they play their powerplay in Jack Attack…. Although, giving away a 6 is probably punishment enough.
Moving on, with the score now 7-0 to Ellenbrook and the game all but done, the Great Bowls got straight back on the horse and attempted to save a bit of face, and they did at least get on the board in the 3rd End when Jonesy held shot, and they only just missed getting second shot, moving the score on to 7-1:
Aaaand that was where the comeback hit a concrete wall at speed, because on the 4th End, Ellenbrook deployed their powerplay, and in a case of deja vu, they wound up holding 3 turned into 6 to blow the score out to a lazy 13-1 with an end to play, and on the final end of the game, it looked like it could end up being even worse for the Great Bowls as Paul landed yet another bowl within a metre…
But, with what I would describe as being the bowl of the night, Bruce bowled second, and with the jack totally obscured by Paul’s bowl, he got his forehand weight absolutely perfect, and he landed a bloody resting toucher!
A real highlight in a game where the Great Bowls didn’t have many of them, and thus, Ellenbrook stormed through to the final in straight sets, 8-4, 13-2.
As for who their opponents would be, on the adjacent Rink 1, North Perth and Mosman Park went to a tie break after splitting the sets, and going into the final bowlers, Mosman Park had pinched the hold after knocking out the North Perth holder, but with the Pioneers faithful watching on, the home team pulled off a bit off last gasp heroics with an upshot that took the hold.
So it would be North Perth vs Ellenbrook in the inaugural final, while Manning and Mosman Park would play off for 3rd, and according to ‘Chev’ from North Perth (At least I think that was his name), the fact they’d even won a game was a borderline miracle, because their team was thrown together at the last minute and they fully expected to finish last.
And Now For Something Completely Different
Todd noted during the short break after the first game that there were old Transperth bus chairs on the veranda outside the clubhouse, while there were a couple inside that had been turned into stools:
We both concurred that theft of taxpayer property appears to be rife north of the river.
Game 2: Manning vs Mosman Park
After a drinks break, Clive fired up his Bowls Premier League Spotify playlist and gave us the instruction to start the final games of the night, and the Great Bowls of Fire came out shooting fire against the team from “The Club With The Million Dollar View” (Mosman Park’s words, not mine), holding 1 on the 1st End, 2 on the 2nd End, and 3 on the 3rd End to race ahead to a 6-0 lead, all before Jonesy even asked Todd about calling a powerplay, which he did on the 4th End to try and wrap a nice little ribbon on the 1st Set.
I must say, if the 4th End were a ribbon, I think it’d be ruby red, because it was textbook use of the powerplay, as Rede put two within a metre, then Bruce landed one to take hold, Todd made it 2, and by sheer fortune, Mosman Park hit one of Rede’s bowls into the count, turning 3 into 6 and making it 12-0 with an end to come.
And, adding another ruby red ribbon on the final end, Mosman Park took their powerplay, needing to hold all 6 shots just to salvage a draw and force a 1 set shootout, which had as much chance as the CDs ever winning the Manning Jack Attack title, and to cap off a dominant performance, the Great Bowls tacked on another 4 shots to complete a 16-0 1st Set shutout!
To be honest, I think the Mosman Park crew were just as dazzled by the sight of Todd’s chrome painted red & black bowls as Clive was, and while Clive was getting a good look at them, we realised that based on the Henselite manufacturer’s stamp, Todd’s set of bowls were manufactured in…
Wait for it….
Yep, the same year St Kilda won their only premiership – Maybe it was those bowls that have permanently mozzed the Saints ever since.
So to start the 2nd Set, Mosman Park made a team change and called on their manager Tim ‘The Toolman’ to fix things up, but it looked like being more of the same as the 1st Set, as Bruce had shot with 2 bowls to come on the 1st End, before Todd, who was basically told to steer clear of the head, decided to come in on a backhand, and to the shock of absolutely nobody, he stuffed things up by taking the jack back and handing 2 to Mossie Park, who finally bothered the scorers for the first time in the game.
While that may have been a bit of inadvertent good fortune, the 2nd End was more straight forward, as Mossie Park touched the jack and beat out Rede’s back bowls to make it 3-0 after 2 Ends:
Needing someone to steady the team and stop the game from hurtling towards a tie break, Bruce racked up yet another toucher to move the jack way out to the wide side for the right hander, then he went even better on his next bowl and landed a foot from the toucher, and Todd got his last bowl absolutely spot on, and the Great Bowls landed a 3, and the scores were level once more:
That led to the crucial end of the game, the 4th End, with Clive appropriately changing the loudspeaker to Danger Zone by Kenny Loggins, and staying consistent Todd played the Great Bowls’ powerplay on the penultimate end of the set, and it looked pretty good for 99% of the end as they went 3 shots up…
Until a heart in mouth delivery from Tim playing as the skip, who looked like he was going to be hopelessly narrow, only to get a huge wick off a front bowl, TAKE THE JACK OUT OF THE BACK where Mosman Park had 3 bowls in the area, but thanks to inadvertent forward thinking, Jonesy as the lead had dropped a bowl out of the back, and the jack had enough momentum to make it to a foot short of his bowl, and the Great Bowls held shot to lead 5-3 with an end to play, and Mossie Park had their powerplay to come.
It looked like being a measure for most of the end between a Mossie Park back bowl and Jonesy’s front bowl (I think Jonesy may have just had it), but a crucial error from the Mossies saw them hit up Jonesy’s front bowl into holding shot, putting big pressure on Tim against Todd, and it was as good as over when Todd landed two sublime shots with his last bowls of the night, although not without a fright, as Tim went for another drive on his last bowl that whisked by Todd’s second shot, missing it by *That* much.
Nevertheless, the Great Bowls of Fire made sure it wasn’t a fruitless trip to North Perth, as they flew the flag for Manning and wrapped up 3rd place in the Jack Attack Challenge with a massive 16-0, 8-3 straight sets win!
If you ask me, the game was like the last 15 years of Women’s Tuesday Pennants…
Manning break the collective heart of Mosman Park.
Either way, I think the Great Bowls were safe on that last end, because even if Tim’s bowl had made contact with Todd’s second bowl and miraculously moved the jack, Mossie Park only had 1 bowl out the back, and Tim’s bowl would’ve ricocheted to the right and out of bounds, so worst case scenario it was 1 shot turned into 2, meaning a drawn set and game over.
But, the most important result of the night was the Grand Final on Rink 2 to decide the inaugural champion, and it was pretty clear who it would be by the conclusion of the 1st Set, as Ellenbrook romped away to a 14-0 1st Set win against North Perth, and ‘The Brook’ were up 4-2 with an end to play in the 2nd Set as North Perth went the powerplay to try and force the tie break…
But they could never beat out Paul’s bowl, nor were they any real hope of getting the crucial 2nd Shot, and thus, Ellenbrook won the 2nd Set 5-2, to claim the inaugural Perth Jack Attack Challenge!
All in all, a big thanks to North Perth for playing host and providing us dinner, Glenn the Greenkeeper for his hard work, and to Clive Adams and Bowls Australia for organising the night inviting us along, even though it was an event for North of the River teams.
Hopefully this Jack Attack Challenge isn’t a one-off, because I think it’s got legs, and the Great Bowls of Fire agree.
Captain’s Comments From Todd/Kochie
“Yet again another slow start proved costly, the rules are obviously different north of the river, but the simple fact is we got schooled by Ellenbrook, second game against Mossie Park we brought the heat in the 1st Set with our best performance of the night, then Tim started landing a couple, but steadied again and got the job done in straight sets to finish in the Top 3.”
“A great night out, the concept worked well, and we’ll all go home with something to show for it – I’ll be able to do a bit of writing while I have a few more coffees in the morning”:
“Rede got a Jack Attack hat, Bruce got a stubby holder for his Jim Beams”:
“And Jonesy’s got a full bowls bag!”
Categories: Lawn Bowls
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