Victoria has firmed as the team to beat in the Alley Shield battle, after toppling NSW by a single shot at the Australian Sides Championships, while Tasmania and South Australia also loom ominously.
With five states evenly placed on three wins and a loss in the men’s competition, this morning’s fifth rubber was always going to provide a bit of breathing room at the top of the table for a couple states, it was just a matter of whom.
The state of origin tussle proved to be a decidedly close affair, after Aaron Wilson’s rink upstaged Aron Sherriff’s while Barrie Lester’s fell to David Ferguson’s, which left former Australian greats Matthew Flapper and Wayne Turley’s rink to determine the result.
With just one shot the difference on the master scoreboard, an enthralling last end ensued.
The Big V’s Dane McKinnon landed a front toucher to ensure there was no doubt about who held shot, before the Blues’ Aaron Teys delivered a missile to dislodge the shot, propel the jack into the ditch and plant his own within a foot.
Turley was in the area with his two, but it all boiled down to Flapper’s last.
Without hesitation, Flapper guided a backhand bomb, that came to rest within an inch of the ditch, with cries of “I tell you what, boys” from the moment it left his hand.
The job doesn’t get any easier for the defending champions though, with a sixth round battle poised to take place against Queensland, who are fourth after coming unstuck to Tasmania this morning.
The Tigers, who claimed victory by eight shots, have skyrocketed to the top of the ladder, but must overcome the Blues in the next round.
The accolades could well be decided in the last round though, which will see the top two, Tasmania and Victoria, square off.
Host state South Australia, who is currently in third spot with just the one blemish, could also mount a late charge for their first Shield in 29 years.
The Croweaters secured their fourth victory against Western Australia today in a see-saw encounter, and clash with Northern Territory and ACT in the next two rounds.
In the women’s Marj Morris Trophy event, Queensland have retained their place as the only untarnished team in either gender.
The Maroons remain at the top of the ladder, but are now the outright leaders, after prevailing against Tasmania 68-43, while Victoria have been relegated to second place by a win, after coming unstuck to NSW by a rather large margin.
The reigning Blues champions were up against it from the start of the competition, after losing and drawing their opening two encounters, but have given themselves a glimmer of hope in the fifth round with a monstrous victory.
The Blues, who are gunning for a sixth successive Trophy, punished Victoria with a comprehensive 89-38, three-rink win, but may find it difficult to chase down Queensland, who are two wins ahead.
This afternoon’s sixth rubber sees Queensland tackle Victoria, ACT tussle Western Australia, Northern Territory contest South Australia, and Tasmania challenge NSW.
Click here to view the women’s Marj Morris Trophy ladder.
Men’s Alley Shield round five results:
SA def WA 61-50:
Ruediger def Harris 21-11
Thulborn def Mitchell 21-20
Kleinig drew Slavich 19-19
QLD lost to TAS 55-63:
Baker def Schraner 19-15
Brown lost to Sims 20-26
Rice lost to Nitz 16-21
VIC def NSW 48-47:
Flapper def Turley 16-12
Lester lost to Ferguson 16-21
Wilson def Sherriff 16-14
NT lost to ACT 45-63
Kitto def Thomas 19-16
Smallacombe lost to McLean 14-22
Maher lost to Whybrow 12-25
Women’s Marj Morris round five results:
SA lost to WA 38-89:
Callisto lost to Solly 15-23
Wrigh def Krstic 22-15
Johnson lost to Morss 13-18
QLD def TAS 68-43:
Keegan def Hodgetts 19-17
Millerick def Triffitt 21-14
Clarke def Van Asch 28-12
VIC lost to NSW 38-89:
Krizanic lost to Cottrell 13-24
Brodie lost to Scott 19-32
Edwards lost to Murphy 6-33
NT lost to ACT 43-68:
Chandler lost to Harmer 10-24
Richards lost to Moore 17-24
Kitto lost to Bacchetto 16-20