Lawn Bowls

Manning Spring Challenge Review: 26th October

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You can always rely on one of my cover photos involving a red sunset

And just like that, it was on to Week 3 of the Spring Challenge on Challenger Avenue, and this was the last week of the preseason Spring Challenge before the beginning of Jack Attack in a fortnight’s time, and as we like to tell our players, the major excuse we use for not getting Jack Attack underway next week is that most of our bowlers will be too pissed to back up from the Melbourne Cup, and in addition, Richard ‘Half’ Price is making his annual trip to Rottnest Island to clean up the Rotto Calcutta with some old friends, and he almost certainly wouldn’t recover in time to look after an arduous Wednesday night.

More seriously, the actual reason we don’t back up straight away is that because of Cup functions at various bowling clubs (Manning included), the Tuesday Women’s Pennants fixtures to start November are played on the Wednesday, and after every Tuesday match, our greenkeeper David Nester gives D Green a good watering, meaning we can’t use the green next Wednesday.

A fair trade off for being allowed to use the grass for 9 weeks during pennant season.

On the weather front, it was another cool night in Manning, with the temperature dropping down to 16 degrees and the apparent temperate hovering at 13-14 degrees Celsius thanks to the Southwesterly breeze coming in, so it was basically par for the course with the weather during all 3 weeks of the Spring Challenge, and I’d like to think we were all used to it by now.

The Overall Night

Cheese from Buffed Helmets II in action during the Grand Final

As mentioned last week, the fixtures for the Week 3 finale were based on the ladder order after Week 2, with the main highlights being the money games between 1st vs 2nd (Buffed Helmets II vs Shapes) and 3rd vs 4th (Macatac vs Rock N Bowl), with 1st place receiving $150, 2nd place receiving $100, 3rd place receiving $75, and 4th place receiving $50, although I would note Macatac and Rock N Bowl are all members of the Macpherson family, so they technically couldn’t lose.

But starting straight from the top, the winners of the Spring Challenge for 2022…

Buffed Helmets II!

L to R: Lee aka Carry, Alastair aka Cheese, and Anthony, aka Fuzzy

They may be the Buffed Helmets II, but as far as the Spring Challenge is concerned, they’re No.1, as the Helmets A-Team came back from an early 2-3 deficit in the 1st Set by deploying the powerplay on the final end and holding 2 (Turning it to 4) to win the set 6-3, and from there it was like watching death by a thousand cuts, as ‘Cheese’, ‘Carry’ and ‘Fuzzy’ held 1 shot on the next 4 ends (1 of which was a powerplay) to lead 5-0 with an end to play, and the Shapes team could only hold 3 to end the night, giving the Buffs the preseason title and the cash, which went straight into the team prize pool.

Commiserations to Shapes, who have made a darn good first impression throughout this preseason after coming in as total unknowns, and in addition to their prize money, Half Price and myself decided to give Craig and his team a thankyou present on behalf of the club….

A box of Pizza Shapes.

Shapes from L to R: Ian, Peter, Tristan & Craig

The best flavour of Shapes, and I will not have any arguments.

Next door under the MV Wholesale sign, the aforementioned 3rd vs 4th game was a clash of the Macphersons, with Macatac featuring Duncan and Di Mac, with Adam (Filling in for the night) & Belinda Mac playing for Rock N Bowl (I’ve neglected to mention team regular Cam playing for them as well), and as a Division 1 player, Adam had to bowl left-handed as per our Jack Attack rules, and even still Rock N Bowl had half a chance of victory, but thanks to a last end powerplay in the 1st Set, it would be Macatac who got the bronze medal position in a tennis score, 7-5, 6-3.

Di and Belinda embrace after the game

With the prize money going to the teams from 1st to 4th, there was going to be the four hard luck stories for the teams with the best variance on the night, none more so than the Great Bowls of Fire, who would’ve taken the $50 on the night as they smoked Stop Drop & Bowl by +25 shots on Synthetic Rink 8, punctuated by a 21-0 win in the 1st Set, followed by an easy 6-2 win in the 2nd…

Rede checking the head after Todd wiggled his way into shot

However, it appeared Todd, who should be referred to as ‘Karen’, was more unhappy about having to play on Synthetic Rink 8 again, a point he made to Pricey during the night, despite the cricket score they were quickly building.

What you can see in that photo is Kochie arguing, and there’s Pricey, beer in hand, quoting Kevin Bloody Wilson’s DILLIGAF.

Moving on, 2nd overall would’ve gone to the CD’s on +10 shots, a variance achieved despite losing the 1st Set 3-8 against Verse 1, which had Helen spewing that bowls was a dud game:

But Helen, Marg & Kelly proceeded to shut out Mick, Ronni and Sally 15-0 in the 2nd Set, a result that had Mick looking a bit worried:

What a well-timed snap this was… And I know the darts team will have a good laugh

And with good reason, because the CD’s momentum was so great they went on to hold 3 shots in the tiebreak, when one shot would’ve been enough.

3rd place overall would’ve gone to Manning Up 7-5 on an ends countback, heading a 3-way tie of teams on +6 shots thanks to their straight sets win (7-3, 7-5) against the Unbelievabowls on Synthetic Rink 7, and after losing Week 1 in a tiebreak, John and the team of micromanagers have put in a couple of solid trials ahead of Jack Attack, where they’ll attempt to go one better after last season’s Grand Final defeat.

John getting down for a measurement late in the game

4th place in the +6 shots countback would’ve gone to the Buffed Helmets I, who won in straight sets against Crawshaw CC (Featuring the return of team manager Wilko) in the de facto wooden spoon game on Grass Rink 2, despite only winning 5 ends on the night, and a key change in the lineup for Buffs I was team anchor Carmo being omitted for team captain Scotty, who proceeded to lead from the front with some oddly stellar bowling:

Celebrating like Richard Nixon boarding a helicopter

A rare Wednesday night in which both Buffed Helmets teams got a win, which meant Wednesday night’s debrief went right up to 10 o’clock, while Crawshaw can celebrate the fact that they won’t have their names engraved on the Wooden Spoon, because the preseason doesn’t really matter.

The unlucky 5th placed team would’ve been Paul’s Heroes, who lost the 1st Set 2-8 against the Jack Hunters on Synthetic Rink 3, but with Paul Smith (Making his Premier League debut on Saturday for Manning) once again coaching Maddie & the Mukka Mad Mates, the Heroes proceeded to pitch a 12-0 shutout in the 2nd Set to end up +6 ahead on variance, then they capped off the night by holding 4 in the tiebreak, just to add 3 layers of caviar to the cake.

Paul coaching his tribute team

Finishing off the results, the game between The Lenny’s and the Bowling Stones on Synthetic Rink 1 was a highly entertaining contest, with the 1st Set finishing 11-8 in favour of The Lenny’s, who started the night by holding 4 before both teams held 3 on their powerplays, the Stones then won the 2nd Set 5-3 after Jared narrowly missed driving out Tiff’s holder with the last bowl of the set, sending the game to a tiebreak, the third tiebreak in 3 games for the Stones…

But, in a 3-way photo finish, it would be Kelsey’s orange bowl that held shot, as the Stones, who had to wait a good 12 months to get a tiebreak victory, have already reset the countdown clock for October 2023.

Tiff chatting to the team before the last bowl, which always tracked too wide out of the hand

On Grass Rink 1, the winless Jack to the Drawing Board took on the SPCG Spinners, and due to a player shortage, Sue Robbo had to call in a few No Hope Avenue heroes to help fill the void, and up stepped Mrs C ‘Wags’ Walker to Manning social bowls for the first time since March 2017 when she was playing for Team Hope, and making her debut on Wednesday night was my dear mum Helen, and I should mention that it was mum’s birthday on Wednesday night (Only 28 years young), so what an appropriate time to make her Manning social bowls debut.

There is only one person in my house that can borrow my yellow & black epilepsy bowls, and that’s mum

Proving that left-handedness is not a genetic trait, my father is a mollydooker, mum is a mollydooker, and yet I’m right-handed.

In the 1st Set, the Spinners won the first two ends, one of which involved Wags smashing the jack on the 2nd End, a feat that did not give her a toucher voucher:

Before JTTDB held 5 on the 3rd end to lead 5-2, but Sue, Wags and Helen held 2 on both the 4th and 5th ends to win the 1st Set 6-5, exceeding their own low expectations, but Alex and the crew went to the drawing board and drew up a hold of 4 shots to start the 2nd Set, which left them in control throughout as they raced away to win it 8-3, although the Spinners would get the mat for the tiebreak…

But it mattered not, because Richard of JTTDB landed what could be described as the skip’s delight, with one bowl on the jack and one a metre behind, which turned out to be the winning bowl as Wags landed a drive dead centre on the shot bowl with her last bowl, but unfortunately for the Spinners it rolled a little bit too far to the right to beat Richard’s back bowl, and Alex subsequently avoided the head with the last bowl of the match, and JTTDB ended the Spring Challenge with a win.

Richard bowling what turned out to be the match winner
Wags with Mr Soudure (Alex’s dad)

And the lucky last result of the night was the game between the Bay City Rollers and Salty Towers on Synthetic Rink 6, and I must note that the tartan bowling sensations were without team captain Dymo, who was too busy out at Ascot drinking the day away watching his horse Grey Mistress run in Race 3…

Quick hint, it was looking good to run a place most of the way, until it got a bit tired in the last 50 metres and ran 4th.

So with Dymo gone, Barry and Christine were joined by Christine (And Mark Ellis’) daughter Lauren, while Mark watched on as he handed out the toucher vouchers, but it just wasn’t to be the night for the Bay City Rollers, as Steph, Dave & the Salty Towers led for all bar one end of the night to win in straight sets, 6-2, 5-4, and congratulations to Salty Towers on claiming their maiden win in Wednesday night social bowls at Manning, ahead of their Jack Attack debuts in a fortnight.

Barry gives me a death stare as the Rollers and Salty Towers kick the bowls away

I should also thank Barry for filling in once again on short notice during the Spring Challenge, because we won’t have him available for Jack Attack as he’s off on holidays for the next 4 months, so safe travels Baz and all the best.

In conclusion, that was the Spring Challenge for 2022, a big thanks to the likes of Mark Ellis, Kim Burke and Adam Mac for helping out myself and Half Price throughout the 3 weeks, Theresa and the bar staff for dealing with us alcoholics, and to Duncan, Kristy and the crew from Krankin Cafe who have stepped up to look after the meals for Jack Attack, and now that the barrier trials are done, that’s it for a few weeks, with Jack Attack starting November 9!


Grass 1: Jack to the Drawing Board (3pts +4) defeated SPCG Spinners (2pts -4), 5-6, 8-3, 1-0 in the tiebreak

Grass 2: Buffed Helmets I (4pts +6) defeated Crawshaw CC, 5-2, 11-8

Synthetic 1: CD’s (3pts +10) defeated Verse 1 (2pts -10), 3-8, 15-0, 3-0 in the tiebreak

Synthetic 2: The Lenny’s (3pts +1) defeated Bowling Stones (2pts -1), 11-8, 3-5, 1-0 in the tiebreak

Synthetic 3: Paul’s Heroes (3pts +6) defeated Jack Hunters (2pts -6), 2-8, 12-0, 4-0 in the tiebreak

Synthetic 4: Macatac (4pts +5) defeated Rock N Bowl, 7-5, 6-3

Synthetic 5: Buffed Helmets II (4pts +5) defeated Shapes, 6-3, 5-3

Synthetic 6: Salty Towers (4pts +5) defeated Bay City Rollers, 6-2, 5-4

Synthetic 7: Manning Up (4pts +6) vs Unbelievabowls, 7-3, 7-5

Synthetic 8: Great Bowls of Fire (4pts +25) defeated Stop Drop & Bowl, 21-0, 6-2

Captain’s Comments

Dianne, Macatac: “Adam bowled left-handed and he still nearly beat us… Imagine if he’d bowled right handed!”

Belinda, Rock N Bowl: “It’s a stupid game sometimes”

Sue, Wags, Helen, SPCG Spinners: “Early ripe, early rotten.”

Todd, Great Bowls of Fire: “Pricey needs another induction, because he doesn’t know who he’s dealing with, we’re the Great Bowls of Fire, 3- time Jack Attack champions and we’re playing on the rookie rink… May as well have played on Challenger Avenue!”

Jared, The Lenny’s: “It was a good game, we hadn’t played the Stones before, they were a good crew, Naomi improved this week after being a bit down on her performance last week, and Kelsey won it in the tiebreak for us!”

Manning Up team comment: “Mark was on fire tonight, just ask Sue from the Unbelievabowls!”

Scratch, Salty Towers team manager: “During the roll-ups, Dave said ‘Geez that felt good when it come off the hand’… I had to do a double take and figure out he was talking about bowls!”

Buffed Helmets: “Congratulations to Kip on his new arrivals, I hope disassembling and reassembling the furniture was worth it… keep the Allen key, mate!”

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