The pain of a slender defeat two years ago was eased after the South Australian contingent claimed the Alley Shield over the weekend, as Rob Greenwood reports for The Advertiser.
South Australian bowls reached turning point two years ago when its men’s team suffered a one-shot defeat to ACT to relinquish its first Australian Sides Championship since 1988.
On Sunday, the Croweaters defeated the same opposition on the final day of the titles at Lockleys and secured glory after three decades of disappointment.
“That was really hard to take (in 2015) and there were lots of tears and anger,” SA skip Max Kleinig recalled.
“But we stuck together and trained hard, and it sort of galvanised us a bit. We knew we needed to knuckle down as a group to win anything and here we are. It is the biggest title you can win (in Australian bowls) so it’s definitely exorcised a few demons.”
SA entered day four of the eight-team round-robin tournament needing to beat ACT and hoping competition-leader Tasmania would drop at least two of its three rinks against Victoria.
The home side comfortably won its encounter 68-53, but had to watch on nervously for an hour before its cross-border rival secured a two-shot triumph on the last rink.
It meant SA and Tasmania finished level on 6-1 records, but the Croweaters claimed the title on a countback
Australian Jackeroo squad member Kleinig singled out tournament debutant Steven Dennis and young gun Nathan Pedersen for praise, along with long-term coach Les Carter.
He said the title was special for veterans Wayne Ruediger and Simon Dorr, who had featured in the state team for 19 and 17 years without silverware.
“It was pretty emotional for us with a couple of guys that had been there for a long time and hadn’t had much luck.
“They’ve been playing since they were teenagers, so we were really determined to win, not just for us.”
The championship came on the back of regular Bowls Premier League finals appearances by Adelaide Endurance and SA’s Scott Thulborn being crowned world champion of champions.
SA’s women’s side finished seventh at the tournament.
Caption: Mark Haines, Max Kleinig and Matthew Northcott were part of the SA team that won the Australian Sides Bowls Championships for the first time in 29 years. Picture: Tom Huntley.