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Bowls In Focus : March April 2011
Bowls In Focus 35 If you can believe anything you see on the silver screen you’d probably agree that nobody does revenge quite like the Italians, and such was the case last month at the Werribee RSL Bowls Club. Smarting from three successive defeats at the hands of Australia in the annual Italy v Australia Challenge Series for the coveted Joe Brunato Shield, the Italians exacted sweet revenge in grand style. Originated in 1976 by the late Joe Brunato, a fine bowler and highly re- spected businessman in the Werribee community, these Italy v Australia Challenges feature twenty-one rinks of bowlers representing Italy against the equivalent in Aussie talent. A series consists of four 10-end rounds with victory going to the side with the greatest scoring aggregate, and ironically, when bowlers from all around the state arrived at Werribee for this most recent confrontation, the victory list saw both nationalities credited with 17 wins apiece. But there’s more to these memo- rable days than just bowls, mats, jacks and scorecards. Ask anyone who has competed in one and you’ll be told of the open-armed welcome, and the fantastic catering which starts with breakfast at dawn, a tra- ditional Italian luncheon and the best farewell feast on the circuit. Not to mention the lashings of complimen- tary home-made Italian red wine and, dare we mention it, a demijohn or two of grappa for those who dare. Now add huge servings of goodwill and fellowship from everyone concerned and the finished product is a bowls occasion without peer. The Italians got off to a promising star t when they claimed round one by 22 and annexed it with another 20- shot win in the second round. But after an impassioned plea during the lunch break from Aussie captain Dave Kelly, in which he demanded his players not only apply scoreboard pressure to the rampag- ing Italians, but – with tongue firmly planted in cheek – they might even employ some physical intimidation as well, the Australians countered with a 20-shot third round rebuff. Going into the final round, and with only 22 shots separating the combat- ants, seven teams were undefeated. Leading the pack was the Italian quartet of Cristiano Ballignese, Marc Brunato, Ben Puglisi and Serge Nazari on +32; Aussies George Col- less, Rob Dove, Dave McCoid and Ron Mason who sat four shots back; plus two more Italian combinations, Frank Marchese, Frank Gardiner, George Tartaglia and Frank Spalato on 25-shots-up; with the team of Greg Grima, Col Ravenscroft, Peter Portaro and Lino Berton placed a further two in arrears. However, any chance the Aussies had of gaining the front run in the final 10-ender was quickly eroded by Deer Park’s Tony Nardella, the Italian captain, and his rink of Rob Ward from Footscray City, Sunshine City’s Graham Carson and Keith Holland from Sunshine RSL, who claimed the biggest win of the day when they homed 21-shots-up. In fact, the Italians bulldozed their way to a massive 63-shot final round victory from 14 winning rinks to eclipse the Aussies by an astounding by 83 over the four outings. Although his best efforts to inspire the Australian side went unrewarded, captain Dave Kelly, a Werribee RSL luminary, did have an impact on the results when he drew two marvelous shots on the final end to relegate leaders Ballignese (who looks remarkably like young Moonee Ponds premier star Chris Ball), Brunato, Puglisi and Nazari to second place in the best-performed rink stakes. This honour went to the Hop- pers team of Greg Grima, Col Ravenscroft, Peter Portaro and Lino Berton, whose 15-shot last round win snatched the award by one, and earned them a photo opportunity with the gorgeous LifesTile trophy girls; Elisa, Diana and Vilma. Kelly’s final act as Aussie captain was to reluctantly surrender the series shield to his opposite number Tony Nardella, whose delight was impossible to disguise. Bravo Italia –What a day! - David Allen 35th Joe Brunato Memorial Shield Italy v Australia Challenge Series at Werribee RSL Bowls Club Round 1: Italy d Australia 204-182 Round 2: Italy d Australia 213-193 Round 3: Italy lost to Australia 193- 213 Round 4: Italy d Australia 225-164 Italy won series 835-752 (+83 shots) Top rinks (4-game winners): Italy: G Grima, C Ravenscroft, P Portaro, L Berton (Hoppers) +38; C Ballignese (Moonee Ponds), M Brunato (Moonee Ponds), B Puglisi (Hoppers), S Nazari (Werribee RSL) +37; F Marchese (West Coburg), F Gardiner (Essendon), G Tartaglia (West Coburg), F Spalato (Keilor) +28. Australia: G Colless, R Dove, D Mc- Coid, R Mason (Werribee RSL) +30; D McNeill, B Maloney, D Maloney, T Leslie (St Leonards) +16. Arrivederci Aussies! • Top: Best-performed rink: Italians Lino Berton, Greg Grima, Col Ravenscroft and Peter Portaro from Hoppers with the gorgeous LifesTile trophy girls Elisa, Diana and Vilma. • Above: Australian captain Dave Kelly reluctantly hands over the coveted Joe Brunato Shield to Italy’s Tony Nardella. • Left: Here’s the inspirational Aussie skipper again, striving to fend off the final round Italian avalanche.