vicroThe Victorian Country Masters Mixed Pairs Championship held recently at the Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort saw a full field of 42 teams compete from throughout Victoria.
The event started with the new concept of having an open draw at the club on the Thursday evening. Thanks to the new committee who was willing to try different ideas.
The night was a raging success with half the teams represented in drawing out their position in the draw.
The evening went off without a hitch except for the computer operator who lost the draw off the screen a few times and it was good to see everybody having a good laugh and drink with each other.
After a nervous night with 10mm of rain during the night the committee breathed a sigh of relief on the Friday morning when play began 15 minutes late due to a sudden downpour.
Luckily this was the last bit of rain for the day.
In cold and windy conditions the players found the elements very tough and after the first day there was a 3 game winner in every section.
In section 1 local team of Laureen Smith and Dasher Richmond had 3 wins and Moama team of Barry Brennan and his wife Margie were one point behind (they later played against each other on Saturday). In section 2 the combination of Matt Robertson (Benalla) and Di Hands (Shepparton Park) got 3 games but with only +12 shots were still in danger from Peter Inglis (Simpson) and wife Linda (City of Colac) with 2 wins and +24 shots up (they played each other in the third game with Robertson winning by only 1 shot.
Section 3 local pairing and defending champions in Garry and Claire Sanders (YMGCR) held a strong position with 3 games and +22 shots.
With Wangaratta pair in Greg McDonald and Jodi Fruend with 2 wins and +4 shots up.
They play each other in the fourth round on Saturday and McDonald has to win to keep their hopes alive.
In section 4 Peter McLardy (Wodonga) and Kerri Leskie (Benalla) have got 3 wins and +27 and with one game behind are John Fry (Drysdale) and his partner Lorraine Kirk (Ocean Grove) with +11.
Also on 2 wins are locals Ian Woods (Yarrawonga) and Sue Middleton (YMGCR) but with only +4.
Both of these teams will have to have some good results to qualify for the finals on Sunday.
In section 5 Tim Cromie (Yarrawonga) and Melissa Roberts (Moama) were in a commanding position with 3 wins and +25 shots.
In second were Stuart and Kerri Ralph (Barooga) with 2 wins and +13 shots.
In section 6 Kevin Armour (West Rosebud) and Anne Fordham (West Rosebud) look like qualifying with 3 wins and a massive +35 shots.
Second with 2 wins and +13 shots were the team of young Tom Hynes (Corowa Civic) and Margret Thorn (Shepparton Park).
The last section Wayne and Janis Parks (Inverloch) with 3 wins and +28 shots look set to go into the Quarter finals.
Barry and Gwen Close (Queenscliff) have 2 wins and +14 shots and local pair of Mal Beer (YMGCR) and Robyn Moore (YMGCR) have the same score.
Saturday greeted everyone with a magnificent sunny day and with the greens in suburb conditions the competition got off to a flying start and the bowlers were showing off their skills.
In section 1 both Laureen Smith and Barry Brennan had wins in the fourth round and so it was down to the last game to decide who would take top place in their section, with the scores seesawing back and forth.
Dasher Richmond produced a fantastic shot to trail the jack to give them a buffer of 2 shots on the last end and then held off a great team to win by 4.
Section 2 had Matt Robertson winning by 1 and his main rival in Inglis winning by 10, they both continued on their winning way in the last game to both secure a spot in the finals (Inglis qualified as the best loser).
In section 3 Sanders and McDonald had a battle royal going on all day and with one end to play Sanders held a 2 shot lead, unfortunately for Sanders he dropped a 4 and lost by 2.
Going into the last qualifying game Sanders and McDonald had the same points but Sanders still had the shots up, McDonald won his last game and Sanders going down by 1 gave the Wangaratta pair the victory in section 3.
In section 4 the fancy team of McLardy and Leskie came crashing back to earth with a 17 shot defeat, this opened up the door for Fry and he grabbed with both hands to go on and win the section.
In a morning of upsets Yarrawonga‘s Tim Cromie also faltered but in the last round he hit back hard to have a big win and go into the final.
In section 6 and 7 both Kevin Armour and Wayne Parkes both cruised into the finals with two good victories.
With a beautiful lunch the results had been calculated and the quarter finals had John Fry play Matt Robertson, Tim Cromie play Kevin Armour, Kevin Parks play Peter Inglis and Laureen Smith play Greg McDonald.
Fry and Robertson played a great game and Fry had a 2 shot lead going into the last end.
Robertson with his last bowl drew another shot to force a tie breaker, with fantastic bowls by all four plays it all came down to Fry’s last bowl where he was a fraction wide and lost 14/16.
In Tim Cromies quarter he was always in control and ran out winners 15/11.
In final number 3 we also have to have an extra end, with Inglis clipping the jack to his advantage with his last bowl to win 14/13.
The last final saw Smith jumped out of the blocks but when the lights came on and the green got a bit heavier, McDonald then took control to win 12/8.
The semi-finals on the Sunday will see Robertson play Cromie in an all Ovens and Murray final and Inglis play McDonald.
With the sun shining the semi finals started on a beautiful Autumn Sunday in perfect bowls conditions. In the one final with Matt Robertson and Tim Cromie, Robertson held sway due to some great leading of Di Hands, holding a 7 shot lead Cromie produced a fantastic bowl to trail the jack for 4.
Once again Robertson snuck out again but Melissa Roberts then peeled of some good ends and on the 13 end with some magnificent draw bowling they picked up a 5 to be within 2.
On the 14th end Robertson playing beautifully bowls to get a 1 and take 3 shot lead going into the last end.
With both teams peppering the jack, it all came to Tim’s last bowl, missing by only millimetres to follow the jack for 4, Matt winning 15 to 13.
The Inglis and McDonald final was tight all game, one team would drop a 4 only for their opponents to bounce back with their own 4.
The Wangaratta skip McDonald was playing the game of his life, drawing shot after shot and on the last end the scores were level, with 5 shots down on the head and McDonald then bowled the bowl of the tournament for a resting toucher to win 16 to 15
The scene was set for the dream Grand Final and with the crowd starting to grow and still in perfect conditions and with McDonald still drawing well and Fruend getting the best of the leads, they got out to a 5 shot lead.
But that quickly disappeared when Hands start to get her range and Robertson also lifted to win the next three ends to lead 6 to 5.
McDonald then picked up a 3 to take the lead back, Robertson then won the next five ends, but due to McDonald’s brilliant draw bowling he constantly drew second shot and after twelve ends the score was 11 to 8 in favour of Robertson.
Both leads were now bowling well and Wangaratta team then picked up 6 shots in the next two ends to lead 14 to 11 after the fourteen end.
They then traded singles and it came to the last end with McDonald team 2 shots up, with Fruend and Hands both playing outstanding bowls under the most extreme pressure.
It then came down to Robertson last bowl holding 1 shot he needed to slice the jack for four with the last bowl of the match.
When it left his hand he liked it, but it just slid by to give McDonald and Fruend the final by the one solitary shot.
The Consolation Event was won by Maurie Haughton and Anne Barham both from Bendigo East, runners up were Les Bates and Jenny Chambers both from Nathalia.
It was great to see the new YMGCR President Gil Cunningham come along to present the trophies and prize money.
Thanks also to Peter Bellis who awarded the Bellis Trophy.
The Committee would like to thank the sponsor YMGCR, Iron Jack Lager and Central Murray Credit Union for their continued support, if you get a chance please give them a try.