State champs

Ocean Grove, State Pennant champions.

Ocean Grove’s Midweek Pennant Division One champions showed that last year’s State Pennant championship was no fluke when they successfully defended their crown last week in Moama.

The Grovers became the first club in Victoria to go back to back for this championship and again carried it out in fine style albeit a shaky start to the competition.

The first round match against the Strzelecki region side Yallourn showed early signs of a premiership hangover as the Geelong based Grovers were very slow to hit their straps.

Maybe it was the expectation of pre-tournament favourites that created a few unsettling nerves in the early stages as Yallourn bounced out of the blocks and at one stage charged their way to a 16-shot advantage. With 30 of the 45 ends completed the Ocean Grove side somehow mounted the comeback that would eventually see the champion side take glory 39-35.

Elaine Price, Terry Thomas, Jeff Howarth and Matt Flapper produced the necessary margin to ensure the overall board was a positive for the Grover’s with their rinks 16-9 round one win.

For Elaine Price, Terry Thomas, Rod Brehaut and Faye Richardson getting the first game out of the way with a win was a bonus as they were new additions to last years champion side.

Last years State Pennant runner up Benalla would be the second round opponent and with a new addition to their side former State Representative Matt Robertson they were the team that the Grover’s would need to overcome in their title defence.

Garry Redford, Patricia Virtue, Gary Burkett and skipper Rod Brehaut stood tall in their battle with Robertson and with Brehaut playing outstanding conversions they silenced their opposition to win the rink 18-11.

Next door however Carol Howarth, Marg Carroll, Michael Allen and skipper Faye Richardson rebounded from their round one rink defeat playing great bowls to record a convincing 19-8 victory while Flapper’s rink up 21-5.

Overall a convincing win 58-24 which showed that Grove was now on track to have a red hot go at defending the crown.

The surface for round threes match would provide enough challenges let alone what the opposition team Mildura would throw at Grove as they took to the sluggish Moama grass green. Possibly one of the slowest grass greens many of Ocean Grove’s players would have experienced, but the team managed to adjust quickly and comfortably got the third win of the event 52-30. Brehaut’s foursome in control with their 23-6 scoreline.

Shepparton Park was quietly going about its business while the focus was starting to look towards the form of the Grover’s also recording three wins from as many starts. The fourth round encounter the crunch game as to who would firm as favourites to take out the section.

Ocean Grove was ready for the challenge and form and momentum was starting to build. Brehaut again clinical on the Moama carpet, whilst Price put on a clinic on how to lead as she dominated the woven carpet surface.

The win 48-30 capped off a powerful three game performance on the greens for the day with the side in a dominating position heading into the final round against Dromana the next morning.

Five from five sectional matches ensured there would be no count back with the round five victory against Dromana by 20 shots, 48-28.

The final standings on the table in Section A Ocean Grove 10 points plus 98 shots while Shepparton Park accounted for Benalla in the final round to finish second on eight points plus 24 shots.

One last hurdle was left to overcome and it would not be an easy jump, Metropolitan winner Croydon dominated Section B with an unblemished record amassing 118 shots up for the five rounds.

The final match of the two form teams was set to be a cracker.

Weather gods were obviously not told there was going to be a State Pennant final played at Moama that afternoon as the temperature dropped to almost freezing with moments of blizzard type conditions. Thankfully the match was not affected as Moama’s amazing facilities provided the shelter needed under the big roof to ensure the final would not be interrupted. Jumpers, Beanies, scarves, gloves and anything else players and spectators could find were applied as play got underway.

Both sides traded early blows as the match went shot for shot, Brehaut and his foursome started strong as too did Faye Richardson’s Croydon’s opponents. The two rink margins cancelled each other out whilst the Matt Flapper team held slight advantage by 2-3 shots in the early stages.

Brave spectators with hands on coffee cups for most of the match were treated to a class exhibition of bowls from all players and the standard was what you would expect for a State Pennant final.

After 35 of the 54 scheduled ends the defending champs opened up a healthy 12-shot margin. Croydon produced one last ditch effort to get back into the match and after 50 ends had reduced the margin to five shots. With four ends to play it was Matt Flapper’s rink in charge of defending that five-shot margin. Brehaut had finished 15-13 up while Richardson’s foursome produced some late magic in their match to come from nine behind to only go down by one 14-15 against the undefeated Croydon rink skipped by John Dixon.

Flapper’s rink finished 14-10 and remained undefeated for the carnival while the Grovers etched their club’s name into the record books for the second successive year. The State Pennant crown was returning to Ocean Grove.

Doing his bit:

At the recent Ocean Grove presentation night Dave Mackay was rewarded for his continued contribution to the club by being crowned clubperson of the year. Dave’s efforts around the club involve things like assisting with tournaments and events, Barefoot Bowls coordinator, part of the greens volunteer group, selector and is our resident photographer who spends many hours capturing those moments throughout the year. Congratulations Dave on your reward.