2023/24 Men’s Major Pairs Champions

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The winners of the 2023/24 Men’s Major Pairs Championship are Gerard Beath & Philip Clarke. They defeated Ashley Mitchell & Mathew Pietersen 19-18 (extra end required) in what was, according to spectators, one of the best finals played, with the match taking 5.5 hours to complete.

The beginning of the match saw Ashley & Mathew have the better of the running, with Ashley leading exceptionally well. Philip kept his team in the contest with some precision drives, either killing ends or reducing the count. After 5 ends, Ashley & Mathew led 6-2. Gerard & Philip then went on a run, picking up 9 shots over the next 5 ends to lead 11-6 after 10 ends. Ashley & Mathew then scored 7 shots over the next 5 ends, conceding only a pair of 1’s, to level the score at 13 all after 15 ends. With darkness setting in, & the lights taking effect, the 2 teams traded the lead over the next 3 ends, followed by a single to Ashley & Mathew to once again tie the game at 17 all with 2 ends to play. A further 1 shot to Ashley & Mathew had them leading 18-17 with 1 end to go. The last end looked to be heading in Ashley & Mathew’s favor, but Philip managed to make contact with the jack, spurting it out the side, to give his team a chance. With the pressure on of being match down, Philip had the option of driving the bare jack in the ditch for the win, or drawing the shot to force the extra end. After deliberating, he calmly played his bowl, drawing within inches to tie the match at 18 all & forcing a extra end.

Ashley & Gerard played 2 fantastic bowls each with their first set, only for Mathew to step up & draw 2 shots himself within inches of the jack to take the ascendancy. Gerard managed to change the head with his last bowl, to give Philip the opportunity to take the shot. Philip did just that with his 3rd bowl, playing a great conversion to get the shot, & hold game with 1 Pietersen bowl to come. The tension amongst both players & spectators was intense, as Mathew played his last bowl, making contact with the shot bowl, only for the bowl to stay with the jack, leaving Gerard & Philip with 1 shot, & the title of Major Pairs Champions for 2023/24. Credit must go to all 4 players on what was, a truly remarkable match.

In their semi final, Gerard & Philip were very much on song, defeating Flurr Ballard & Tony Thurtell 32-9. The other semi final saw Ashley & Mathew defeat last years Runners Up, George Bakulic & Julio Posadas in another tight encounter, 20-14.

Gerard & Philip will now go on to represent St Johns Park in the NSW State Champion of Champion Pairs in April 2024.

St Johns Park Bowling Club Group

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