BEGA teenage lawn bowls sensation Dylan Cuthbert overcame a slow start to help his team secure the inaugural Drakes Pride Super 6s title on Saturday.
The Candelo Bowling Club was the focus of the Sapphire Coast bowls community when the Valley’s best bowlers converged to battle it out for what has become the premier bowls competition.
In near perfect conditions, the men’s morning semi-finals produced two outstanding contests as the Tathra Warriors, Merimbula Dolphins, Tura Breakers and Bega put nine weeks of hard work on the line for the right to contest the final.
The Tura Breakers were the first to sound their intentions as they took the upper hand on Bega in the early ends, with Kel Duncombe showing great determination against Cuthbert.
It took the experienced combination of Ken Snowden and Richard Cock to reverse the early trend and keep Bega’s hopes alive.
In a brilliant singles tie, it was Duncombe that outlasted his young opponent, drawing first blood with a hard fought 21-17 shot victory putting the first two points in the bank.
With the triples tie in the balance, it was up to Snowden and Cock to build on their early platform.
With Cock proving his skills as a draw shot specialist, it was Snowden who proved the catalyst by setting up winning heads for his skip over the concluding stages.
With the pairs combination running away with a 10-shot victory it then came down to the triples team to finish the job with a one shot winning margin.
The other semi-final between the Tathra Warriors and the Merimbula Dolphins proved a cliff hanger.
In the early stages it appeared that Tathra were going to dominate the match when they recorded eight unanswered shots in the first end across the three rinks.
The early momentum continued for the Warriors with their triples combination led by Hedley Waugh taking control of their match with an early six shot lead.
In the singles tie Tathra’s experienced singles player John Chalker was challenged by Merimbula’s Barry Plummer.
With Merimbula fighting back in the triples tie and the pair’s duo of Michael Wilks and Kevin Morse edging away from Tathra’s Craig Colligan and Phil Baker, it was Chalker that staked his claim on the match finishing off the singles game to record a 21-14 victory.
With a seven shot deficit to arrest, the dolphins showed the fighting spirit that had seen them secure the minor premiership.
The Dolphins triples team of Bill Holloway, Noel Johnstone and Warren Harding fought back to win their game by four shots in a brilliant exhibition over the last five ends.
This left the Merimbula pair of Wilks and Morse needing a three shot victory to move into the final, but through a series of brilliant draw shots from Colligan they were denied by the barest of margins.
The scene was then set for a local derby grand final with Bega taking on Tathra.
With a surprise defeat in the semi-final, it was Cuthbert that stole the show in the grand final.
With renewed focus the young Bega star set about a demolition of his more experienced Tathra opponent.
Cuthbert controlled the game from the outset and in a match that lasted less than an hour he put a 21-11 victory on the score board to set up his experienced Bega team-mates.
With early points in the bank it was again Snowden and Cock that steered the ship home.
The experienced duo seemed unfazed by the extravagant shot play of their talented Tathra opposition to win their tie by six shots leaving it up to the triples team to finish off the whitewash by securing a four shot victory on their rink.
Snowden’s brilliant exhibition of control on the day saw him named as the player of the finals series with Cuthbert’s singles performance in the final putting all Sapphire Coast bowlers on notice that he means business.
In the ladies final, the Tura Tornadoes outlasted the Merimbula Sapphires in a high quality affair.
With Merimbula entering the game as slight favourite, it was the experience of Tura’s Jan Duncombe, Sis Neilson and Joy Clarke that proved telling.
Duncombe controlled her singles game for the most part securing the early points; this appeared to be just the spark required for the Tura girls. With Kerrie Burns and Rosemary Dale darting away to an 8-1 lead over Sis Neilson and Lily Pucci, Duncombes performance appeared to inspire them, with some brilliant shot play the girls secured 10 shots over the next four ends putting the Sapphire’s hopes of securing the inaugural crown to rest.
This year’s event was one of the most keenly fought tournaments hosted on the Sapphire Coast for many years.
At the after match presentations event organiser and Club Sapphire bowls development officer Michael Wilks acknowledged the support of sponsors Drakes Pride and announced that next year’s event will return with some new and improved formats.
The Sapphire Coast’s focus will now switch to pennants competition and district titles over the coming months.