AFTER a jaw-dropping day/nighter of classic international play at Moama Bowling Club, Australia’s Jackaroos, the world and Commonwealth champions, hold a two-point buffer leading into tomorrow’s culmination of the first-ever World Bowls Challenge.
A capacity audience saw the scene set with a spectacular opening mixed triples clash between two of the sport’s foremost skippers when Jackaroos star Aron Sherriff – along with Bec Van Asch and Ellen Ryan – took on the might of Scotland’s legendary Rest of the World captain Alex Marshall, who had Kiwi Jo Edwards, the reigning Commonwealth Games singles gold medallist and young England starlet Katherine Rednall at his side.
In only her second Australian appearance, Rednall was the world team’s top performer of the day, demonstrating exactly why she has won three WBT world indoor singles titles – in 2014, 2017 and 2018 – and she’s only 23!
After two thrilling five-end sets the first-ever WBC shootout was halved at one apiece – a standard was established and maintained throughout five enthralling hours.
The Rest of the World men’s line-up comprises Ryan Bester (Canada), Darren Burnett (Scotland), Gary Kelly (Ireland), Marshall and Shannon McIlroy (New Zealand), while the women are Edwards, Ellen Falkner (England), Kelly McKerihen (Canada), Colleen Piketh (South Africa) and Rednall.
Australia’s hard-charging Jackaroos are Barrie Lester (Qld), Sherriff (Qld), Aaron Teys (NSW), Corey Wedlock (NSW) and Aaron Wilson (NSW) in the men’s quintet, with Kelsey Cottrell (Qld), Karen Murphy (NSW), Ryan (NSW), Natasha Scott (NSW) and Van Asch (Tas) forming the women’s fab five.
Australia takes their two point lead into tomorrow’s action – commencing at 12.30pm (AEDT) – when fans will see five mixed pairs matches played simultaneously; then two four-match waves of singles at approximately 1.45pm and 3pm; before the two final singles encounters take place on the show green at around 4.15pm.
With singles matches attracting double points, the possibility exists of this inaugural challenge being decided at the very death of proceedings.
The bowls faithful at Moama and those at home on the various TV networks and streaming platforms, will witness Aussie great Karen Murphy’s farewell performance – after more than 650 quality representations in the distinctive gold and green Jackaroos livery.
2019 World Bowls Challenge • Australia v Rest of the World • Moama Bowling Club, NSW
Mixed triples: Game 1: World (K Rednall, J Edwards, A Marshall) drew Aust (E Ryan, R Van Asch, A Sherriff) 8-2 3-7; Game 2: Aust (K Cottrell, C Wedlock, A Teys) bt World (E Falkner, G Kelly, D Burnett) 8-1 7-3; Game 3: World (K McKerihen, S McIlroy, R Bester) drew Aust (B Lester, N Scott, A Wilson) 2-6 5-4.
Men’s pairs: Game 4: Aust (B Lester, A Sherriff) bt World (S McIlroy, R Bester) 5-3 4-2.
Women’s pairs: Game 5: World (K Rednall, E Falkner) bt Aust (K Murphy, R Van Asch) 5-2 8-1.
Men’s pairs: Game 6: World (D Burnett, A Marshall) bt Aust (C Wedlock, A Wilson) 3-3 6-4.
Women’s pairs: Game 7: Aust (E Ryan, K Cottrell) bt World (C Piketh, J Edwards) 7-3 7-7.
Current standings: Australia 8 points, 8 sets, +8 shots; Rest of the World 6, 6, -8.
Photo: • Head masters Aron Sherriff (Australia) and Alex Marshall (Rest of the World) plying their craft during the opening mixed triples match.