Kenta Treacher (North Sydney) and Midori Matsuoka (Neutral Bay)

31 January 2021

Congratulations to Midori Matsuoka (Neutral Bay) and Kenta Treacher (North Sydney) who today booked themselves a spot in the 2021 State Mixed Pairs Championships, to be held at South Tamworth in August. Midori and Kenta were involved in very close games in both the North Shore District final and the Regional Play-Off. Despite the cool and damp conditions, top bowling was on display, especially in the afternoon RPO.

In the North Shore final, the teams looked evenly matched from the outset so it was no surprise that, with 12 of the 15 ends completed, the scoreboard read 9-8 in favour of David Blackwell (Turramurra) and Elizabeth Blackwell (Neutral Bay). It wasn’t until Midori took the jack back on the 13th end, for 2 shots, that her team hit the lead for the first time in the match. On the 14th end, it was David’s turn to move the jack and, with no bowls close, it became a drawing contest for the skips. After Kenta’s bowl finished 40cm in front of the jack, Elizabeth played onto the bowl and sprang the jack yet again; however, Kenta still had shot with one of his back bowls and held the lead 11-9. On the final end, the shot was traded back and forth. When the Leads went to the mat for the last time, David and Elizabeth were holding one but needing two to keep the match alive. However Midori hit in one of Kenta’s bowls for shot and, despite Elizabeth’s best efforts, the bowl remained. Kenta wisely declined to play his last bowl, taking the win 12-9.

As the Region 15 Play-Off started after lunch, so did the rain with a cool breeze from the south; however, the spectators anticipated plenty of heat from the bowling and they weren’t disappointed. Linda and Terry Warder (Harbord) carried their fine form from the Manly-Warringah final (against fellow Harbord bowlers Sandy Healey & Hale Banfield) into the RPO and Midori and Kenta cranked their game up a notch to match them bowl-for-bowl. With six ends completed, the score stood at 4-3 to Midori and Kenta. However, the seventh end changed the momentum: with Midori holding, Terry wrested out her bowl to hold three shots then added another. Kenta dropped both his last bowls well short, enabling Harbord to hit the lead 7-4. However, the North Shore pair looked unperturbed, picking up three successive singles to level at 7-7 after 10 ends. After a single to Harbord on the 11th, Kenta endeavoured to take out Harbord’s best bowl to make a multiple on the 12th and really throw down the challenge. He missed, but still scored one shot to level the scores 8-8, then 2 more on the 13th put Midori and Kenta ahead 10-8. By the 14th end, things were really hotting up — already holding shot, Midori made a decisive move wresting out a Harbord bowl to hold three shots; Linda then hit the jack back and it was hard to tell who was holding, until Kenta drew with perfect weight. After inspecting the head, Terry played a positive bowl with controlled weight, successfully removing Kenta’s shot bowl and making a count of three, which took Harbord into the last end one shot in the lead. In a display of top-class bowls, all four players fought to come up with the win. Midori got a nice rub off a front bowl to arrive right in front of the jack but, when the skips went to the mat for the last time, North Shore was holding only that one shot and needing two for the win. Terry disturbed the head but it was possibly still one shot to North Shore. Then Kenta played an excellent draw to trail the jack slightly, tucking it “round the corner” slightly and locking it between two of his own bowls. Terry’s final bowl unfortunately clipped front traffic and ran away from the shot bowls, leaving Midori and Kenta victorious 12-11 and the spectators exhausted!