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Bowls In Focus : August September 2009
Maestro Maskell’s Fourth Classic A estro Maskell’s Fourth Classic A Br Br ighton champion Geoff Maskell established himsel as the winningest competitor in the event’s 34-year histor Maskell’s Fourth Classic A Br ighton champion Geoff Maskell established himsel as the winningest competitor in the event’s 34-year histor himself himself as the winningest competitor in the ef 34-year history. His triumph, in partnership with clubmate Graeme Spencer, was an unprecedented fourth. The first was back in 1989 with Berwick’s Goff Wilson, followed by the 1996 success with McKinnon’s Rob Huddle, while the third was in 2002 with Tino Krizos from Kew Heights. It’s an enviable record, especially as this prestigious weekender is considered the titular kick-off to each year’s bowls season and always attracts the cream of the state’s top players. This year’s Classic boasted the largest field ever, with 126 teams travelling to the ‘Ute Capital of the World’ to stake their claim for the glory and gold associated with victory in the event. In all, greens at five clubs were required to host the 21 sections in qualifying rounds this time around. These were Mathoura, Finley, Finley Returned Services, Deniliquin RSL and Deniliquin, where the finals have been traditionally conducted since the event’s inception. There were some big results in early play on day one. Shepparton Golf’s Matt Robertson - who recently won the Queensland Open pairs gold medal - and his dad Trevor collected a 33-0 result over a pair from Batesman’s Bay in the opening round, while the combination of Brenton Coad from Moonee Ponds and Rosamond’s Peter Condon amassed a 28-0 win against a Wangaratta team in round two, then backed it up with a 28-1 finish against an Upwey Tecoma side in round three. Ironically, Coad and Condon, who were unbeaten and +59 shots overnight, failed to win their section, something of a trend in this year’s Classic, in which only three of the top 10 fancies at the Friday night Calcutta made it through to the play-offs. Punters framed young Bendigo East state players Aaron Tomkins and Brad Holland as favourites, followed by Michael Wilks and Brad Martin from Clayton, then came Bundoora’s Nick McIntyre and Tom Ross from Werribee RSL. Moonee Ponds state players Brett Spurr and Barrie Lester were listed as fourth followed by Kevin and Barry Brennan from Rochester; Deniliquin RSL Pairs Classic at Deniliquin Bowls Club Section winners: 1 I Ross, B Whiffin (Bendigo); 2 B Smith (Nth Albury), S Garland (Richmond Union); 3 P Thorn, G Harrison (City of Echuca); 4 G Ball (Altona), L Kean (Keilor); 5 G Maskell, G Spencer (Brighton); 6 D Donaldson, S Sawyer (Essendon); 7 J Short (Melbourne), L Aiello (Moonee Ponds); 8 M Robertson, T Robertson (Shepparton Golf); 6 Bowls In Focus Classic winners Geoff Maskell and Graeme Spencer are flanked by tournament director Dennis O’Keefe and club president Henry Berry. Keilor’s livewire Lenny Kean in action during the finals. Richmond Union’s Neville Rodda and Bendigo’s Aaron Wilson were sixth, with Brighton’s Todd Shannon and Lyle Taberner from Karingal, then Brendon McCallum from Armadale and Altona’s Ben Loughlin. Clayton’s Dan Rushton and Addy Wetzler attracted ninth best interest, while Werribee RSL’s Brett Dodd and Andrew Myers from Altona rounded out the top 10. With Sunday afternoon comes the business end of the event as the qualifiers engage in six-end roll-offs to decide their positions at the pay window. And by the time the field had been whittled down to just four contenders, there had been some extraordinary results. Take Bundoora’s classy Mike Szabo and Paul Gonzales for instance. They were raging favourites after clean-sheeting the ageless Victoria Ballarat duo of Bob Whitcher and Bob Frka in the round of 16, then 2004 winners Ian Ross and Barry Whiffin from Bendigo in the quarter finals. However, in the semi finals, they were on the receiving end of a whitewash, from Maskell and Spencer. Amazing! The eventual runners-up, Altona’s Garry Ball and Len Kean from Keilor, took some pretty good form into the main event themselves, having polished off Craig 9 M Chaplin (Moama), G Tinning (Tongala); 10 M Gardner (Essendon), R Hodgetts (Landsborough); 11 D Woodrow (Fitzroy Victoria), M Johnstone (Essendon); 12 B Whitcher, B Frka (Victoria Ballarat); 13 B McCallum (Armadale), B Loughlin (Altona); 14 M Szabo, P Gonzales (Bundoora); 15 J Curtain, R Perry (Karingal); 16 C Norris, D Foxwell (Keilor); 17 A Mathison, A Maher (Essendon); 18 N McIntyre (Bundoora), T Ross (Werribee RSL); 19 K Hill (Numurkah Golf), G Franze (East Shepparton); 20 N Rodda (Richmond Union), A Wilson (Bendigo); 21 N Brown (Yarraville Footscray), R Tatti (Essendon). Norris and Danny Foxwell from Keilor 10-1 in the corresponding semi final. Under floodlights, and in almost arctic conditions, the final got underway in a flurry, with Maskell and Spencer - who had been the outstanding lead in the field - collecting a three on the opening end and four on the third, although this was interspersed with a wellcrafted three to Ball and Kean on the second. At 7-3 after three, Maskell and Spencer looked home and hosed, however, showing the gritty determination required, Ball and Kean grafted a pair of singles and a two over the concluding stages to force an extra end. And when they held what seemed to be an impenetrable shot with only the skippers to play, a boilover was on the cards. However, this is where the experience of Maskell came to the fore. The seasoned warhorse simply stepped up to the plate, played just a smidgen of weight to nudge his team’s closest bowl about a centimetre towards the jack, and won the resultant measure. It had been a big result for the winners, who pocketed the $7000 Calcutta first prize after buying themselves for a song, and walked away with the major share of the event’s $15,000 prize pool. Asked to explain the trick to winning four Clas- sics, the amiable Maskell laughed, “It’s simple, have extremely good players as partners.” No doubt Graeme Spencer would agree. - David Allen Elimination final: Rodda d Robertson 6-1, Donaldson d Brown 5-3, Gardner d Short 8-1, Ball d Curtain 8-4, McCallum d Mathison 8-1. Round of 16: Ross d Chaplin 9-0, Szabo d Whitcher 7-0, Maskell d Rodda 7-6, Gardner d Donaldson 7-5, Ball d McCallum 12-2, Woodrow d McIntyre 11-2, Thorn d Hill 9-2, Norris d Smith 10-1. Quarter finals: Szabo d Ross 8-0, Maskell d Gardner 9-2, Ball d Woodrow 8-5, Norris d Thorn 9-3. Semi finals: Ball d Norris 10-1, Maskell d Szabo 10-0. Final: G Maskell, G Spencer (Brighton) d G Ball (Altona), L Kean (Keilor) 8-7.