Trans Tasman Victory Full of Positives for Blackjacks

14 Nov 2017

There was plenty to like about the Blackjacks Senior side's overall Trans Tasman victory over Australia's Jackaroos at Broadbeach Bowls Club held 10-12 November.

Whilst the New Zealand Men narrowly went down 2-1, the Kiwi Women were able to reverse that result with a 2-1 victory of their own.

With the Men's and Women's results combined, the Blackjacks claimed the overall honours on a count-back of results. The victory was New Zealand's first Overall win since 2011 in Invercargill.

With the Commonwealth Games dominating the 2018 calendar, the Jackaroos Men will be looking to make it 10 victories in a row in February 2019.

The recent Australian men's domination has not been without it's close calls however, with this series being no exception. 

The fight was evident from New Zealand, led by World Champions Ali Forsyth and Shannon McIlroy, who showed plenty of ticker and gave themselves every fighting chance of knocking the Jackaroos men off their perch. 

After a sluggish start in the First Test, the Blackjacks hit back on Day 2. They won their first four matches of the day, sealing the Second Test with two rounds yet to be played in an emphatic reversal of form. Not content with just a victory, the Blackjacks attacked the jugular and went close to a 6-0 whitewash, with Shannon McIlroy scoring an incredible 18 singles in his come from behind 21-19 win over Aron Sherriff in the Singles.

Forsyth's Four held game until skipper Aaron Wilson was able to flick the jack with his final bowl and salvage a draw for the Jackaroos. A 5.5 to 0.5 victory meant momentum was all with the Blackjacks heading into the Day 3.

The scene was perfectly set and went down to the wire on the final day. Going into the last session of the series with the 3rd Test locked up at 2 games apiece, Aaron Wilson produced a masterclass as skipper of the Jackaroo Pair. With Brett Wilkie laying a great foundation off the front,

McIlroy and lead Mike Kernaghan could only attempt to stem the flow as Wilson continued to draw precision shots at will. Any hope of winning the series was effectively gone with New Zealand 13-nil down and Wilson's confidence running sky-high. In another great show of character however, Forsyth's Triple fought to a single shot victory over Sherriff, assisting the overall tally. 

With the Test locked up at 3 games apiece, Australia claimed the 3 rd and decisive Test Victory on margin, courtesy of Wilson and Wilkie's 25-12 Pairs win.

From our Men's perspective it' disappointing not to get over the line in our series, but we know that we showed a lot of character said Shannon McIlroy. "It's pleasing to know that our never say die attitude contributed to the overall win" 

Operating under Forsyth in the Triple and Four, Paul Girdler was outstanding for the Blackjacks, constantly turning over heads for Forsyth and creating headaches for Sherriff, Wilson and Nathan Rice. 

In the Women's event Jo Edwards once again reconfirmed her standing as the world's leading female player. Edwards had a perfect 4 from 4 record in the Singles, dispatching Karen Murphy three times; 21-13, 21-8, 21-11 as well as a 21-15 victory over Australian Open Singles champion Ellen Ryan.

The return of Mandy Boyd as a bona-fide Triples and Fours skip gave the Women's side more balance.

Boyd's poise on the draw when down on the head as well as her shot-playing ability gave confidence to her younger team mates Katelyn Inch and Tayla Bruce. Bruce in particular responded to Boyd's presence  final-bowl heartbreaking counters from Boyd were more often than not followed up by an effective first bowl on the following end from Bruce at lead. 

The Blackjack Women operated in tandem with the Men, mounting a 2nd Test comeback after a disappointing Day 1 before running over the top of the Jackaroos on Day 3. While the Jackaroos narrowly won both Pairs and Triples matches in the final session, they weren't able to overcome the Kiwi girls' superior shot margin, which sat at +17 after the penultimate second session.

Selectors Sharon Sims and Peter Belliss will be heartened by the Blackjacks performances. They've now seen all their squad members perform successfully against Australia's benchmark side in a variety of conditions the Gold Coast offered up sun, wind and rain  as well as green speeds, where the pace of the Broadbeach green's dipped noticeably following rain.

The Selectors are poised to announce the Commonwealth Games side shortly, and this successful group has gone a long way to cementing their tickets to the Gold Coast again in April 2018 for the big dance.

With the Blackjacks claiming the Women's and Overall Senior trophies and the Senior Men suffering a narrow 2-1 defeat, Australia has again won the remaining 4 trophies in emphatic fashion. 

The Jackaroos wrapped up Para-Sport Trophy on Day 2, and followed on to record a 3-nil whitewash. Mark Noble's Disabled Triples side collected 3 wins from 3 in the 1st Test but faded on Day's 2 and 3. It was a similar story in the Men's and Women's Development series made up of a combination of players under 25 and under 18 years of age. 

The Jackaroos recorded convincing 3-nil whitewashes of both genders and took home the overall trophy with 29 combined games won to New Zealand's 7 in a disappointing display from the Kiwi's. 

The Blackjacks focus continues to stay in Queensland with Ali Forsyth, Shannon McIlroy, Jo Edwards and Coach Sharon Sims staying on for the BPL at Pine Rivers on 14-17 November.

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