North Shore success at 2017 RPOs

On a second sunny, windless day at Chatswood BC in 23 August, the North Shore District champions in the Pairs (both Open & Senior) took on the Manly-Warringah champions to determine which teams would progress to the State play-offs in October. In the Open Pairs, Elizabeth Blackwell & Jenny Palmer  (Neutral Bay) were hoping to repeat their success of the previous day when they had won the Triples RPO. In a fine contest against Masako Sato & Virginia Longfellow (Harbord), there was only one multiple scored in the first 8 ends, with the scoreboard showing 3-6 to Neutral Bay (thanks to Elizabeth being effective with draw bowls and weighted conversions in equal measure). Then on the 9th end, with no bowls very close to the jack, Harbord picked up 3 to level the score. Scores were still level after 11 ends: 7-7. Another 3 to Harbord on the 12th saw the visitors take the lead for the first time since the 3rd end, followed by consecutive 2’s to increase their lead to 14-7. On the 15th end, Virginia got a favourable slide off a short bowl to contact the jack and be lying 3-up, then drew an excellent fourth. However, Jenny’s last-bowl drive scattered the lot, and The Bay picked up a single to keep their supporters’ hopes alive:  8-14 with 3 ends to play. On the 16th and 3-down, Elizabeth once again drew the shot — Virginia outdrew it but Jenny took the shot again immediately:  1 to The Bay. Down on the head on the 17th, Jenny fired up again to draw the jack away from Harbord’s bowls and pick up 2: 14-11 going into the last end and the crowd was really excited! Things were looking good for Neutral Bay on the final end until Harbord’s skip drew to an inch behind jack. Despite two attempts by Elizabeth to draw the jack off, and two by Jenny to drive it off, the head remained as it was, with Harbord the happy winners 15-11.

Meanwhile, another Neutral Bay team (Brenda Walker & Gill Barton) was doing battle against Dee Why’s Benita Andrews and Robyn Morron in the Senior Pairs (3-bowl). All the way through the match, it was anybody’s game:  6-all after 5; 9-all after 10. A lovely draw from Benita with her last bowl set up the 11th end for Dee Why, with Robyn adding 2 more to take the lead 12-9. Gill’s contact with the jack on the 12th saw The Bay holding 3 to potentially level the scores again, but their hopes were dashed when Dee Why’s skip moved the jack once more for shot. After the 14th end, Dee Why had extended their lead to 15-10 with 4 ends remaining. That provoked a fight-back! Brenda and Gill played tighter bowls over the following two ends, scoring 3 on each, to get to the lead 16-15. But a 2 to Dee Why on the 17th sent the home team into the last end 1 behind. Benita’s opening bowl, a toucher, sat 6 inches from the jack. Brenda couldn’t beat it with her first bowl but, with her second, trailled the jack and sat close for shot, which would draw the match. However, after Gill accidentally tapped her own team’s shot slightly away, the outcome looked uncertain. 1 to NB for a draw? 2 to NB for a win?  Or 1 to DY for them to take the match?? The umpire was called. Result: 1 to Neutral Bay, 17-17 and an extra end required to break the tie. Neutral Bay won the toss, rolled the jack to the T, but lost their first bowl into the ditch. From that point, the jack got moved and “shot” was traded a few times, until Gill drew past the crowd of bowls to lie closest. With the front of the head tightly clustered by this stage, Robyn played her last bowl with weight but it went straight through to the ditch and Neutral Bay emerged as winners: 18-17 on an extra end!!

The previous day, our Singles and Triples champions took on the Manly-Warringah champions (all from Harbord) in sunny and calm conditions at Chatswood on 22 August, and emerged victorious. In the Singles, Julie Hayden (Mosman) played Masako Sato  (Harbord). Julie and Masako both made a steady start to be 5-all after 8 ends. Masako got in front for the first time on the next end, but Julie found the length and added 10 shots over the next 5 ends to lead 15-7. Despite a single to Masako, Julie looked in control and picked up a pair of 2’s to extend her lead to 19-8. Masako then tightened up her game and on the 20th end was holding a full count of 4 which, if she had held it, would have placed her only 4 behind. However, Julie targeted the jack with her last bowl and took it back to claim a 3 and move to 22-11. Undeterred, Masako played immaculate draw bowls over the following 6 ends to claim 9 shots and trail by only 2, 20-22. Over the remaining ends it was an arm-wrestle, with Julie cutting down potential multiples and, in return, seeing a match-winning lie saved by Masako on consecutive ends. With the score 24-21 to Julie and Masako holding 2 close shots, Julie managed to trail the jack to hold match once again. This time, Masako’s last bowl pulled up short to put Julie through to the State play-offs at Taren Point in October. Final score: 25-21.

In the Triples contest Elizabeth Blackwell, Jenny Palmer and Jenny Hepburn  (Neutral Bay) took on Jan Newell, Gwen Dessaix (sub for L Belling) and Chris Gordon (Harbord). Harbord looked to always have a slight edge over The Bay, and were up 9-3 after 7 ends. However a fight-back by Neutral Bay put them only 2 behind: after 11 ends, 10-8 to Harbord. But a 6 to Harbord on the 12th end put them firmly in front, and with only 4 ends to play the score stood at 17-10 in Harbord’s favour. But Neutral Bay then picked up 1, 4 & 2 to make the scoreboard very tidy:  17-17 on 17 ends!! With the enthusiastic spectator gallery on the edge of their seats, Elizabeth put her opening bowl within a foot of the jack. Jan’s first bowl lay 1 metre short, and both Leads put their second bowls a little over a metre behind. With Jan’s last bowl also in a prime “catching position” behind, the Neutral Bay supporters showed their appreciation when Jenny Palmer’s opening bowl wedged itself firmly between the two Harbord bowls. Harbord’s second, Gwen, played her first bowl with conviction, sat out Elizabeth’s best bowl and stayed for shot but Jenny struck back immediately, with a wick off the only short bowl sending her in a foot behind jack: 1 to the Bay. The Harbord skip, Chris Gordon, played weight but her first bowl went through to the ditch without contact. Jenny Hepburn’s second bowl looked an effective blocker, so Chris dropped the weight and made gentle contact with Harbord’s closest bowl, but with no change to the situation. After inspecting the head, Jenny Hepburn went to the mat and calmy drew another shot just in front of the jack. Lying match-down and with only one bowl remaining, it was Chris’s turn to inspect the head, with advice offered by all members of her team. When she played the bowl, it was a beauty and held its line to find the jack. In a piece of bad luck, the jack ricocheted off a bowl and rebounded more than 2 metres forward, leaving Jenny’s blocker as the closest bowl!  Final score: 19-17, so the Neutral Bay team is also bound for the State Play-offs in October. Regional Representaive Jan Sutherland presented medallions to the winners after the games.