New Zealand has fired an opening day salvo against Australia in Auckland claiming two of the three lawn bowls tests on offer.
In the Junior Trans Tasman, the Black Jacks drew first blood as Australia’s ironclad grip on the under-18 trophy looked shaky for the first time in memory.
Since the competition’s inception in 2002, Australia is yet to relinquish the coveted prize, having successfully defended it for a fifth time in Brisbane last year, but the Kiwis hit back on home soil today (26/2).
Claiming a 4-2 result to go one test up in the best of three series, Australia’s only wins came in the form of Victoria’s Lisa Phillips, who posted a 21-7 win against Emma Le Lievre in the girls’ singles, while the Northern Territory’s Martin Miller and NSW’s Aaron Teys teamed to beat Monte Pawa and Ryan Khan 17-10 in the boys’ pairs.
Despite the setback, Australian youth assistant coach Faye Luke was pleased with what took place.
“Lisa Phillips shone today,” Luke said.
“She enjoyed a fantastic debut and never gave up. Carly Griffiths was impressive in the singles, but her opponent played great weighted shots.
“Martin performed well on debut and confidently stepped up in the pairs…while Aaron is a confident young man who is ready to take any challenge.”
With Australia’s under-25 men’s side also having their colours lowered, the green and gold’s only victory came in the women’s development division, with Lara sensation Sam Shannahan engineering a narrow win on a countback.
Lining up against newly crowned Australian Open triples champion Clare McCaul, Shannahan, who boasts 17 international caps to her name, showed her class as she posted a 21-14 in the singles, while Tasmania’s Bec Quail skipped Morgan Solman-Stewart, Carla Odgers and Janet Healey to a narrow 15-13 triumph in the fours.
While the Australians dropped their afternoon encounters in the pairs and triples, they had done enough damage to hang on to the victory, propelling them towards retaining their title.
In the under-25 men’s competition, the only joy came in the triples, with Victoria’s Dylan Fisher teaming superbly with NSW debutant Mat Pietersen and Queensland’s Sean Baker to register a 22-13 win.
“I’m pleased with the girls’ performance today, they stuck to their game plan,” Australian youth coach Bill Cornehls said.
“They fought hard for their wins and kept working away and Sam was very solid (in the singles) and looked to be in control.
“The men’s opposition came at them hard and played some big conversion shots.
“We have strong players in strong combinations and tomorrow is another day.
“Overall I’m proud and confident of our performance today and believe the hard work we have put in will ultimately pay off.”
The under-25 and Junior Trans Tasman will continue in Auckland tomorrow before concluding on Sunday.
photo Cheltenham jockey club
photo Cheltenham Racecourse