The Australian Jackaroos will contest all four gold medal matches from the first half of the 2016 World Bowls Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The Jackaroos secured victory in all of this afternoon’s semi-finals contests, and will now go in hunt of four gold medals over the next two days.
The contingent is guaranteed of four silver medals from the initial four disciplines on offer at the quadrennial tournament, with four finals to be broadcast live on Fox Sports this weekend, before the remaining four disciplines commence sectional rounds next Tuesday.
The first final to be staged tomorrow, from 7.00am AEDT, will be the women’s fours contest, where Australia’s Kelsey Cottrell, Carla Krizanic, Rebecca Van Asch and Natasha Scott are the in-form team in the tournament, after a very shaky start to sectional rounds saw them defeated in three of the first four matches.
A slight reordering of the positions breathed new life into the team, who went on to win their next five sectional rounds, followed by this morning elimination-final and semi-final, which they won in emphatic fashion, 27-9, against the host-nation Blackjacks.
The contingent will square off England’s Jamie-Lee Winch, Rebecca Wigfield, Wendy King and Ellen Faulkner from 7.00am AEDT.
The Old Enemy will be eager to earn their first World Bowls Championships gold medal since 2004, in either gender, when Faulkner was part of their women’s fours win on home-soil in Leamington Spa.
The second final of the event, the men’s triples, will feature the same two nations, from 11.00am AEDT.
Australia’s Barrie Lester, Mark Casey and Aron Sherriff will be pitted against Jamie Walker, Andy Knapper and Robert Paxton.
Four-time international bowler of the year Sherriff enjoyed a sublime 250th international appearance for the Jackaroos in the semi-final, where the trio ended New Zealand’s hopes of a gold medal chance, 18-10.
The Blackjacks had a tumultuous day on the green, losing all four of their semi-finals to finish with a suite of bronzes.
The third final to be contested by the Jackaroos will see experienced-hand Brett Wilkie and international debutant Aaron Wilson look to continue their stellar run, against Ireland’s Gary Kelly and Ian McClure.
Wilkie and Wilson booked passage to the gold medal decider courtesy of a stunning 17-11 victory against the defending titleholders, Paul Foster and Alex Marshall from Scotland.
Australia’s most capped international combatant, Karen Murphy, who celebrated her 550th appearance yesterday, is now just one win away from claiming back-to-back titles in the blue-ribbon singles event.
In an edge-of-your-seat blockbuster, Murphy secured a 1 shot semi-final victory over Canada’s Kelly McKerihen, who also bowls for Clayton in Melbourne.
Murphy will face Scotland’s Lesley Doig in Sunday’s ultimate decider, from 11.00am AEDT, after Doig ended the hopes of the host-nation’s Jo Edwards in the other semi.
The Australian contingent enjoyed a record-breaking campaign at the most recent staging of the event, four years ago, where they claimed five gold and two silver medals from the eight disciplines contested.
With four gold medal chances already secured, the Jackaroos are well on the way to setting a new record, but competition for each medal in the 34-nation tournament is sure to be fierce.
The women’s fours and men’s triples deciders will be played tomorrow, and shown live on Fox Sports from 7.00am and 11.00am, while the men’s pairs and women’s singles will take place on Sunday at the same times.
Saturday, December 3 (day five)
7.00am – 10.00am AEDT: Women’s fours final – Live on Fox Sports 4 – Australia (Kelsey Cottrell, Carla Krizanic, Rebecca Van Asch, Natasha Scott) v England (Jamie-Lee Winch, Rebecca Wigfield, Wendy King, Ellen Faulkner)
11.00am – 2.00pm AEDT: Men’s triples final – Live on Fox Sports 4 – Australia (Barrie Lester, Mark Casey, Aron Sherriff) v England (Jamie Walker, Andy Knapper, Robert Paxton)
Sunday, December 4 (day six)
7.00am – 10am AEDT: Men’s pairs final – Live on Fox Sports 4 – Australia (Brett Wilkie, Aaron Wilson) v Ireland (Gary Kelly, Ian McClure)
11.00am – 2.00pm AEDT: Women’s singles final – Live on Fox Sports 4 – Australia (K. Murphy) v Scotland (Lesley Doig)
Women’s singles: Australia (K. Murphy) def Canada (Kelly McKerihen) 21-20
Women’s fours: Australia (Kelsey Cottrell, Carla Krizanic, Rebecca Van Asch, Natasha Scott) v New Zealand (Katelyn Inch, Angela Boyd, Kirsten Edwards, Val Smith) 27-9
Men’s pairs: Australia (Brett Wilkie, Aaron Wilson) def Scotland (Paul Foster, Alex Marshall) 17-11
Men’s triples: Australia (Barrie Lester, Mark Casey, Aron Sherriff) def New Zealand (Mike Nagy, Blake Signal and Ali Forsyth) 18-10