The Australian Jackaroos juggernaut continues to roll on, with the contingent prevailing in 11 out of 12 sectional matches today, following on from a golden weekend at the 34-nation World Bowls Championships in Christchurch.
National Coach Steve Glasson was true to his word, with a declaration yesterday that the contingent would not rest on its laurels after claiming three gold and one silver at the half-way mark of the eight discipline competition, despite knowing that the team would have a target planted firmly on their back.
The team were quick to prove him right, at least initially, given there is still two more days of sectional rounds, a day of post-sectional encounters and two days of final battles ahead of them.
Aron Sherriff commenced his quest for a maiden World Bowls Championships singles gold medal in fine form; having been a runner-up on these greens some eight years ago, while he provided his service to the pairs and fours disciplines at the most recent staging in 2012.
Sherriff won three matches from as many starts, defeating Macao’s Johnny Ng 21-5 in today’s last rubber, but it was Australia’s adopted son, Ryan Bester, who represents Canada but lives and plays out of Broadbeach on the Gold Coast, that finished the day in top spot.
Bester secured a colossal opening round victory against Scotland’s Darren Burnett, who claimed the Commonwealth Games singles gold medal in Glasgow two years ago, and followed it up with a further two wins, to sit nine shots clear of Sherriff on the leaderboard.
The highly fancied duo aren’t poised to face each other in the final round of sectional matches, on Thursday afternoon, in an encounter that could determine who is granted an automatic semi-final berth, courtesy of the first-placed finish.
Before that, Sherriff must overcome Burnett, the other heavily-backed contestant, in tomorrow morning’s blockbuster, marquee match-up.
The men’s fours team of Barrie Lester, Brett Wilkie, Aaron Wilson and international-last-gamer Mark Casey also enjoyed three successive victories, but find themselves down to England on shot-margin, by 19.
It’s possible that those two teams may not be split until the final round as well, when they face off against each other, and are the only two nations with an unblemished record after the first day’s play.
The Jackaroos quartet defeated Singapore 17-11 to cap off today’s rounds, and will square off against Spain in tomorrow’s fourth round.
The women’s triples line-up of Carla Krizanic, Natasha Scott and Rebecca Van Asch continue to blitz the event, and are still riding a high after they all claimed gold in the women’s fours last Saturday.
The trio are undefeated and on top of the table following their three sectional wins, which included a 27-10 win over Zimbabwe in today’s last match, and are set to play the United States of America tomorrow morning.
A third round loss to the host-nation, New Zealand, has taken none of the shine off the women’s pairs campaign.
Kelsey Cottrell and Karen Murphy, who are defending the title that Cottrell and Van Asch secured four years ago, could only muster 7 shots during their 17 shot loss to New Zealand, but will look to respond against the Philippines tomorrow morning.
One loss won’t have a drastic effect on the pair, given there’s till six rounds to go.
After-all, the women’s fours managed to claim gold after dropping three of the first four sectional encounters.
Round 3: 1.45pm – 4.45pm AEDT
Men’s singles (section 1): Australia (Aron Sherriff) def Macao (Johnny Ng) 21-15 (Fendalton)
Men’s fours (section 2): Australia (Barrie Lester, Brett Wilkie, Aaron Wilson, Mark Casey) deft Singapore (Terrence Lee, Pang Hang Heek, Christian Huang, Thomas Leong) 17-11 (Canterbury)
Women’s pairs (section 1): Australia (Kelsey Cottrell, Karen Murphy) lost to New Zealand (Angela Boyd, Jo Edwards) 7-22 (Burnside)
Women’s triples (section 1): Australia (Carla Krizanic, Natasha Scott, Rebecca Van Asch) def Zimbabwe (Debbie Robertson, Mel James, Jane Rigby) 27-10 (Fendalton)
Caption: Aron Sherriff can put his feet up after three wins today, but the four-time international bowler of the year knows he’s got some hard work a head of him in order to claim the blue-ribbon singles title.