By Jack Rollings
Saturday pennant. The warmest day this season. Almost hot. Not a cloud in the sky. Hardly any wind. Perfect for bowling. It’s the pointy end of the season with finals just around the corner.
Monbulk 1 played at home against Warburton.
Eric Markham’s team won twelve of the twenty-one ends including five doubles and three good multiples. Apart from one double, their losses were all singles. They led all day and won the rink comfortably 25 shots to 10.
Jim Bras’ team got the early jump and led by 6 shots going into the eighth end. Then they dropped six ends in a row to give up the lead. With six ends to go they trailed by 7 shots. Monbulk finished stronger but couldn’t quite make up the deficit. Monbulk lost the rink 19 shots to 22.
Tony French’s team dropped two 5s during the game, massive clangers that would normally spell a defeat. However, they also won twice as many ends as Warburton which meant the scores were often level. Monbulk was able to edge away over the last two ends to win the rink 20 shots to 18.
Brian Smith’s team stayed close early on. Then Warburton found their range and started controlling the mat, winning twelve ends. In the race home, Monbulk was able to reduce the margin slightly but lost the rink 15 shots to 21.
Overall Monbulk won the round 79 shots to 71. The composite board was tight all day, with Warburton taking the lead early after the break. Then, in a thrilling finish, Monbulk was able to do enough to take the lead and hold on. Monbulk is still fifth on the ladder with a mathematically possible chance of gaining a top four berth. But the last two games will be against top teams, so it will be a huge challenge.
Monbulk 2 travelled away to Ringwood.
Don Barnetson’s team had several level scores and lead changes in the front half. Then, after the break, Ringwood grabbed four ends in a row, including some multiples. Going into the fifteenth end, Monbulk trailed by 11 shots. They rallied in the run home and picked up six ends in a row to reduce the margin but couldn’t quite bridge the gap. Monbulk lost the rink 16 shots to 20.
Graeme Goller’s team had one of their toughest games for the season. Not only did they lose the mat twice as many times as Ringwood, but they also dropped several big multiples in the run home and that blew out the deficit. Monbulk lost the rink 10 shots to 30.
Case Broekhof’s team followed a similar pattern, winning some early ends, then dropping seven ends in a row to trail by 10 shots. Ringwood dominated in the back half, with some big multiples, to double the margin. Monbulk lost the rink 11 shots to 31.
Andy Smith’s team stuck close to their opponents in the front half but dropped some big scores in the back half. The teams won a similar number of ends, so it was those clangers that made all the difference. Monbulk lost the rink 16 shots to 22.
Overall Monbulk lost the round 53 shots to 103 with all rinks down. Yes, that loss rates as a thumping. However, it was only Monbulk’s third loss for the season, and they are still prominent in the top four, and they still have an eye on playing finals.
Monbulk 3 travelled away to Donvale.
Graeme Godkin’s team started strongly, winning the first eight ends and leading by 14 shots at the halfway mark. In the back half, the teams won similar number of ends, but Monbulk was able to finish the day with a 3 shotter and secure a comfortable win 26 shots to 9.
Chris Sullivan’s team had a close match all day, with both sides picking up some big scores to change the lead several times. With three ends to go, scores were 17 shots all. Then it was Donvale who took control for the last three ends. Monbulk lost the rink 17 shots to 21.
Mike Harris’ team dropped only six ends for the day, but Donvale was able stay in touch for most of the day with some good multiple wins. Going into the fifteenth end Donvale trailed by just a single shot. But in the run home, Monbulk won six ends in a row, including two good 4 shotters and they took the game beyond reach. Monbulk won the rink 25 shots to 13.
Overall Monbulk won the round 68 shots to 43. A solid win on an away ground. They are well into the top four and have a reasonable expectation to play finals in three weeks’ time.
Only two more home and away rounds to go before finals.