The New Zealand Blackjacks have capped off a scintillating Australian Premier League campaign, pillaging the coveted silverware and the lucrative prize cheque that accompanies it this evening live on Fox Sports.
The Blackjacks cut a swath through the competition’s minor rounds this morning, finishing in pole position with nine wins from fourteen starts to cement their place this evening’s semi-final and earn a double-chance, alongside the Adelaide Endurance, who were one game behind.
While the Endurance took the bragging rights from their first encounter on live television this evening, 7-2, 2-9, 1-0, to advance directly to the final decider, it was the Blackjacks who ended up with the ultimate honour at the conclusion of the competition, but it wasn’t without considerable effort.
As a result of their semi-final loss, the Bowls NZ owned contingent had to do battle through a preliminary final against the Blundstone Melbourne Roys, who progressed through the first of tonight’s broadcast matches after prevailing over the Gold Coast Hawks in the elimination final, 6-4, 6-4.
Despite a last ditch bid to secure a debut final berth, the Fitzroy Victoria Bowls and Sports Club owned Roys succumbed to the team from across the ditch, even after a powerful opening that saw the Roys take an 8-0 first set, but it was a harrowing 3-4 second set followed by 1 shot on the tie-break that saw them come unstuck.
In the ultimate decider, which was the third occasion the Blackjacks and Roys had met on the broadcast show-rink in the last two nights, it was a contrasting game of precise deft touch and masterful weighted conversions that had the parochial crowd, including the infamous Wayne’s Can Bar, up and about for the $60,000 final.
The Endurance’s debut player, Max Kleinig put on a clinic on the Club Pine Rivers carpet but was matched equally by the experienced Ali Forsyth, who steered his Kiwi trio to a 6-3, 0-8, 1-0 final victory, relegating the Bowls SA team to its third straight runner-up finish.
The New Zealand Blackjack team of Forsyth, Jo Edwards and Shannon McIlroy had gone the distance in the minor rounds as a team last year, but fell short of the title in the semi-finals, with the change of the finals structure and double chance opportunity paying dividends for them in APL03.
Bowls Australia congratulates the New Zealand Blackjacks, who were the only team to boast a female representative, and Adelaide Endurance on their finals performance and thank the supporters and viewers who tuned into the 20 hours of Fox Sports and Sky TV NZ coverage or watched the action live at Club Pine Rivers this week.