Australia’s gold rush at the Asia Pacific Championships failed to materialise today as it suffered two heart breaking losses.
With world number two Brett Wilkie and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Mark Casey lining up in the men’s pairs, and the powerhouse combination of Mark Berhofer, Nathan Rice and Aron Sherriff doing likewise in the triples, the stage was set for a memorable day for Australia.
With the Helensvale duo going down to arch rival New Zealand in the morning, eyes turned to the Sherriff skipped contingent to make amends, with the unbeaten trio pitted against Fiji’s Daniel Lum On, Samuela Tuikiligana and Semesa Naiseruvati.
Despite having beaten Fiji in the preliminary rounds, the Naiseruvati skipped line-up took control of the game from the start, claiming the first four ends to establish a 7-0 lead, before a 6 on the fifth end brought the Aussies back into the running.
From there, the Fijian’s built up an unassailable lead as they claimed six of the remaining ends while keeping the Jackaroos to single scores on all but one occasion.
“A beautiful result for Fiji,” Naiseruvati said.
“Coming into the game it was quite challenging for Fiji because bowls is basically taken as a minor sport, but we thank Vodaphone Fiji and family support for the sponsorship to get us through to the Championship.
“I believe Australia has always been a good team and you can’t take that away, but we came in with a game plan to beat Australia and we’ve been honoured.
“I must thank my team, Tui (Samuela Tuikiligana) and Dani (Daniel Lum On), we complement each other well and most of all; we thank the lord for his blessing.”
Australia now have one gold, two silver and a bronze from four disciplines with a further four chances at glory tomorrow in the men’s and women’s singles and fours.
New Zealand followed on from this morning’s dramatic success in the men’s pairs with a clinical display in the women’s pairs to take out their second gold for the day.
The Philippines combination of Ainie Knight and Rosita Bradborn weren’t able to emulate their semi-final heroics with the star studded Kiwi pairing of world number three Val Smith and world number one Jo Edwards far too good for their Philippines counterparts, winning 24-9.
New Zealand started with a three in the first end, with Knight and Bradborn picking up four shots over the next three ends. But in a decisive point in the match, the Kiwis picked up a five and turned a one shot deficit into a four shot lead. From that point the Philippines were only able to manage a further five shots for the remainder of the match, whilst the New Zealanders piled on 16 shots.
After Smith and Edwards picked up a three in the sixteenth end, and sitting 15 down with two ends to play, Philippines skip Bradborn conceded.
Edwards was understandably rapt with their tournament and also impressed with the improvement in the level and depth of the competition.
“We were too good today, but I have been playing at this level for 10-12 years and the improvement in the so called ‘minnows’ has been fantastic,” Edwards said.
“It was tough conditions, with the wind and the speed of the green, but we just preserved.”
The New Zealand skip also praised her lead.
“Val was awesome against the Aussies yesterday, her drawing toady was sensational…she is just the perfect lead.”
The Philippines skip was proud of her sides performance in the Championships but conceded that the Black Jacks were just too good today.
“We didn’t play our best bowls today, but they (the New Zealanders) just out bowled us,” Bradborn said.
“We have enjoyed our time in Adelaide and are very happy to take a home a silver.”
2011 Asia Pacific finals action will continue tomorrow from 9:00 am at Lockleys Bowling Club.
Asia Pacific Championships
Val Smith and Jo Edwards (NZL) bt Ainie Knight and Rosita Bradborn (PHI) 24-9
Daniel Lum On, Samuela Tuikiligana and Semesa Naiseruvati (FIJ) bt Mark Berghofer, Nathan Rice and Aron Sherriff (AUS) 17-11
Caption: Fiji's gold medal winning triples team pointing to the scoreboard.