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Bowls In Focus : May 2011
10 Bowls In Focus On a day that started out with flooded greens and finished under floodlights, the state’s most respected championship reached its climax in spectacular fashion during Bowls Victoria’s Champions Week at the Wangaratta Bowls Club last month. The Victorian Champion of Champions, with its roots reaching back to 1876 - four years prior to the original Victorian Bowls Association being founded - making it the world’s oldest singles event, saluted its 115th champion on day four. And it was former dual champion Lee Schra- ner from Brighton whose name will be etched in the history books after he emerged from a titanic struggle with his state skipper Wayne Roberts from Yarraville Footscray. The masterly performance makes him only the second bowler of the modern era to win the state singles and champion of champions titles in the same season, joining former international Bill Cornehls, who achieved the feat in 2000. In the process he also joined his idol Bob Middleton as the only three-time winners of this time-honoured event, although both will need to get cracking if they are to catch the great Glyn Bosisto’s record of seven. Schraner’s performance was magnificent, but made even more meritorious when accomplished in the space of 48-hours! The bowls played were of stellar standard despite the heavy rain that interrupted play on three critical occasions during the afternoon. At the out- set Schraner jumped to a healthy 7-1 lead after six ends, but Roberts countered to level the numbers when the first cessation was called. However, the Yarraville Footscray club coach grasped the front run at the resumption and held court at 16-11 before another heavy shower forced a halt to the action. Following this interval Schraner snatched the advantage by collecting an all-drawn four and a spate of singles to covet a three-shot buffer at 19-16 when the clouds burst again - thankfully for the final time. From this point onwards the match was a tense grinding affair with both players owning an equal share of spectator acclamation. Roberts was play- ing the match of his life while Schraner was playing like his life depended on it - gripping stuff - and when Roberts added a single and a two to be 23- 24 down, the tension was as taut as Dolly Par ton’s bra strap. However, on the following end the Brighton star was first to occupy the closest shot position, and despite three great attempts from Roberts, the Schraner lime-coloured size-four remained unhin- dered as the two gladiators embraced following an herculean battle. Roberts made his way into the main event with a classy win over Mooroopna’s Mark Ryan after trailing 9-12 with 13-ends completed. In an amazing finishing stanza of 10 ends, in which not one single was recorded, the smooth-swinging Bulldog pre- vailed 25-20 to book an appointment with Schraner after the lunch adjournment. Schraner, ‘Leeroy’ to his mates, gave notice in his semi final encounter with Ballarat’s Glen Richards from the City Oval club, whose cheeky quip: ‘How many shots star t will you give me’, dur- ing a photo session at the end of day one proved prophetic, when the champion handed in a 25-8 scorecard. The winner of consecutive champion of cham- pion medals in 2008 and 2009, Schraner ploughed through both of his matches on day one, defeating Corowa’s Frank Seaton 25-16 in the morning, then John Leitch from the Mulgrave Country Club 25-11 in an afternoon quarter final. Ironically, the last time Schraner and Leitch faced each other was back in 2002, at Trafalgar in a semi final of this same event. On that occasion Leitch prevailed, then went on to win the historic championship when he trounced a young Todd Simmons from Yarraville Footscray in the final. However, at Wangaratta, Leitch simply doffed his lid to the enigmatic Schraner who gave the rain-damp- ened crowd a champagne display of draw bowls. The lanky Ryan played beautifully on opening day when he eliminated Ivanhoe’s Tom Ristic in the first round, then emerged from a crackerjack quar- ter final clash with former state teammate Brendan McCallum; while Roberts eclipsed Glen Waverley veteran Brian Youdan in the opening round before cruising to an eight-shot win over Mitcham’s Matt Handley. Despite the tongue-in-cheek assessment of his chances Richards was not to be underestimated. On route to his appearance in the semi finals the plucky Ballarat champion ousted Nangiloc’s Owen Giddings and Lara’s mercurial John O’Donnell, while only conceding 23 shots in total on the way. However, come the afternoon of day two, just 48-hours after his state singles win, Lee Schraner, the top fancy of most experts including our celebrity tipsters, proved himself to be one of the greatest Victorian players of all time. - David Allen King Leeroy: Best Of The Best Victorian Champion of Champions at Wangaratta Bowls Club Round of 16: Mark Ryan (Mooroopna) d Tom Ristic (Ivanhoe) 25-13, Brendan McCallum (Men- tone) d Alan Langley (Sunbury) 25-16, Wayne Roberts (Yarraville Footscray) d Brian Youdan (Glen Waverley) 25-4, Matt Handley (Mitcham) d Alan Jackson (Wedderburn) 25-18, John Leitch (Mulgrave CC) d Matthew Potter (Stratford) 25-17, Lee Schraner (Brighton) d Frank Seaton (Corowa Services) 25-16, John O’Donnell (Lara) d John Huxtable (Karingal) 25-13, Glen Richards (City Oval) d Owen Giddings (Nangiloc) 25-12. Quarter finals: Ryan d McCallum 25-20, Roberts d Handley 25-17, Schraner d Leitch 25-11, Rich- ards d O’Donnell 25-11 . Semi finals: Schraner d Richards 25-8, Roberts d Ryan 25-20. Final: Lee Schraner (Brighton) d Wayne Roberts (Yarraville Footscray) 25-23. • Above: It’s twin crowns for singles king Lee Schraner shown here with president Graeme Hosken again. • Below: Yarraville Footscray champion Wayne Roberts was valiant in defeat. • Right: Mark Ryan from Mooroopna played fine bowls to make the final four.
March April 2011
June July 2011