The BCiB Sydney Lions have become the fourth franchise in four instalments of the Bowls Premier League to win the coveted trophy after a stunning performance last night in their first ever BPL finals campaign.
BCiB Sydney Lions supporters were starting to wonder if they will ever see their franchise on BPL finals night, but 2016, affectionately now known as the ‘year of the underdog’, was the Lions time to shine on centre stage and not only did they qualify for finals on top of the ladder they claimed the BPL04 trophy in emphatic style, defeating the 2013 Champions the Murray Steamers.
The Lions overcame a hiccup in the preliminary final, going down in a tie-break to the Murray Steamers in the top of the table clash to secure a ticket directly into the grand final; Sydney was then forced down a more challenging road to the final, with a semi-final clash against the most consistent team in BPL history the Messenger Press Adelaide Endurance.
The Adelaide Endurance’s Max Kleinig produced something special in the tie-break against the Blundstone Melbourne Roys; forced to save the match with less than two feet, and the jack located in the back corner of the rink, Kleinig tailed the jack for victory to the delight of all the Endurance supporters who gathered in their numbers at Club Pine Rivers.
The finals atmosphere was starting to build and the crowd had begun to show their allegiance to the Sydney Lions, with the famous Wayne’s Can Bar now filled with Lions supporters.
It was a tough task for the Adelaide Endurance to overcome an in form pairing of Aron Sherriff and Ben Twist who were sharing the lead and skipping honours brilliantly, with Australia’s most capped international bowler subbing in, and an even tougher task to overcome Lady Luck who guided Ben Twist’s final bowl of the first set in favour of the Lions.
Adelaide weren’t going down without a fight and provided plenty of shots for the highlights reel in the second set; however Sydney were too strong and were now on a high going into the grand-final.
The Murray Steamers had time to ponder their second BPL grand final appearance having spent a game off the show rink, and perhaps that showed in a slow start from Ellen Ryan and Ryan Bester.
The killer blow for the Murray Steamers was the five shots to the Sydney Lions on a power play in the second set, doubling to 10 and giving the Lions a six shot advantage going into the last end.
Bester tried to work his magic with the final bowl but it wasn’t to be and the Sydney Lions could finally start celebrating a near perfect BPL04 campaign.
Post-match the Sydney Lions contributed their victory to tactics they had stuck with most of the tournament and described the brilliant power play end which secured them the title.
“Me leading for Ben was going pretty well but in that moment, on that power-play end, when Ben came back into the match we decided to put me back to lead and the first end we got a 10,” said Aron Sherriff.
“The idea was we had Aron up front for us to get us off to a good start in the all the matches, but it was actually Omar down the sidelines that said do you want to change this, we said yes let’s do this,” said Gary Willis.
“I think we are all a bit stunned that we were actually able to do it, it’s just fantastic,” said a very pleased Sydney Lions Coach Gary Willis.”
Ryan Bester may not have collected his second BPL title but he did claim his first MVP award as voted by the coaches after the 14 round matches.
Caption- BCiB Sydney Lions have taken out the $100,000 BPL04 in their first ever finals attempt.