Australia in control of trans-Tasman contest
A contrasting team performance placed Australia on course to retain their trans-Tasman bowls crown on the opening day of an intriguing pre-Commonwealth Games series in Victoria yesterday.
After their men – with the exception of the dominant Black Jacks triple – gave Australia the initial ascendancy, the Jackroos' women stepped up in the final session at the Traralgon Bowling Club to give the two-time defending champions the honours on day one of the three-test series.
New Zealand's men won both triples encounters – and the second instalment of the pairs – to draw level on nine points, although Australia won with a superior differential.
In the women's competition, the contest was locked at two wins apiece and locked on differential until Lynsey Clarke, Karen Murphy and Natasha Scott avenged a narrow loss in the morning with a comprehensive 21-6 victory.
Kelsey Cottrell and debutant Carla Odgers then nailed back-to-back victories over Jo Edwards and Val Smith to claim the test by four wins to two.
The men's triple of Tony Grantham, Shannon McIlroy and Ali Forsyth were the only Kiwi combination to be unbeaten heading into today's second test by following up a close 16-13 win with an eight-point victory in their second outing.
Dan Delany and Richard Girvan could also take confidence from a much-improved showing against Matthew Flapper and Brett Wilkie, bouncing back from a 21-8 loss in game one to edge the rematch 13-12.
Although trans-Tasman bragging rights were at stake, the Anzac spirit was still evident on one green – a surface tailor-made to replicate what New Zealand and Australia expect to compete on in Glasgow in July-August.
Bowls New Zealand national coach and selector Dave Edwards and Australian counterpart Steve Glasson agreed a green should be groomed to resemble the Kelvingrove Lawns Bowls Centre.
Both countries were involved in a test event at the Games venue last August and realise the surfaces will run slower than they are accustomed to.
Glasson had no issue compromising home advantage to assist Australia's closest rivals.
"It's pointless going out there playing on a fast green. We're not going to get any feedback out of that," the former Australian international said.
"If you look back historically we've both probably performed under par in the UK. If we can work together hopefully we can make sure the Southern Hemisphere gets a good grab of the podium finishes."
The Scottish-styled rink runs at 11.5 seconds – about 5sec quicker than the adjacent surfaces at Traralgon – enabling the bowlers to adapt their techniques.
"You've got to change your whole mindset," explained Edwards.
"We draw to the jack in New Zealand, you've got to draw at it on their [Scottish] greens."
In today's second test the singles and fours double up and in tomorrow's final the programme reverts to the original schedule.
First test Open results:
Pairs: Australia 21 (Matthew Flapper/Brett Wilkie) bt NZ (Dan Delany/Richard Girvan) 8; Triples: New Zealand 16 (Tony Grantham/Shannon McIlroy/Ali Forsyth) bt Australia (Wayne Ruediger/Nathan Rice/Aron Sherriff) 13; Singles: Australia (Aron Sherriff) 21 by NZ (Shannon McIlroy) 14; Fours: Australia 18 (Ruediger/Wilkie/Rice/Flapper) bt NZ (Grantham/Delany/Girvan/Forsyth) 7
Pairs: NZ 13 (Delany/Girvan) bt Australia (Flapper/Wilkie) 12; Triples: NZ 21 (Grantham/McIlroy/ Forsyth) bt Australia (Ruediger/Rice/Sherriff) 13.
Pairs: Australia (Carla Odgers/Kelsey Cottrell) 20 bt NZ (Val Smith/Jo Edwards) 17; Triples: NZ (Amy McIlroy/Lisa White/Mandy Boyd) 12 bt Australia (Lynsey Clarke/Karen Murphy/Natasha Scott) 11; Singles: Australia (Kelsey Cottrell) 21 bt NZ (Jo Edwards) 14; Fours: NZ (McIlory/White/Smith/Boyd) 18 bt Australia (Odgers/Clarke/Murphy/Scott) 9; Triples: Australia 21 (Clarke/Murphy/Scott) 21 bt NZ (McIlroy/White/Boyd) 6; Pairs: Australia 19 (Odgers/Cottrell) bt NZ 8 (Smith/Edwards) 8.
Australia: 21. New Zealand: 15.