Joel Hilliard has won his third Major Pairs Championship in a row! He and his partner, John Fahey, needed an extra end to get the better of Peter Macdonald and Ray Downey in an excellent game of bowls. In the end the victory came down to two championship winning bowls that Hilliard played in the final ends of the game.
Macdonald and Downey, who started as under-dogs, had a confidence boosting start to the game setting up an early lead and from that point they were never behind on the scoreboard – until the extra end was played! The game was a very close affair with all four players in good form. They all contributed some very important bowls as the game was played out. While Macdonald and Downey led most of the game they never threatened to set up a match winning lead.
The scores were locked at 11 all after 13 ends before Macdonald and Downey moved to a 15 – 11 advantage after 15 ends but Fahey and Hilliard were able to pick up 3 shots on the 16th end to narrow the margin to 15 – 14. With one end to play Macdonald and Downey were in front by 18 – 17. They held the advantage in this end until a slight movement of the jack swung the game in favour of Hilliard and Fahey. Downey then played an excellent bowl to put the jack in the ditch and grab the shot. With his last bowl Hilliard played the first of two very telling bowls to draw the shot close to the ditch. Downey had the chance to claim the match with his last bowl but he was unable to convert.
The score at the end of the last end was 18 all meaning that an extra end was needed to determine the Championship. Macdonald started with two excellent bowls – both within 20 cms of the jack. Then Hilliard played the real telling bowl! He played between Macdonald’s two bowls, picked up the jack and put it into the ditch with his bowl (also in the ditch) finishing less than 40 cms from the jack! Macdonald and Downey then had the difficult task of trying to draw closer to the jack but keeping their bowl on the green. Despite their best efforts – with a couple of very close calls – they couldn’t do it. Hilliard was able to get another close bowl so he and Fahey ran out winners 20 – 18.
It was a very fitting final with the closeness of the scores and the quality of the play keeping the spectators very much on the edge of their seats. Congratulations to the winners – both Hilliard and Fahey have now won this title on multiple occasions! First time finalists Macdonald and Downey acquitted themselves well and can be very pleased with their efforts!