Women’s Region Sides Championship 2017
It was an epic final, full of big, big moments.
Sandbelt’s 41-40 win over Geelong in the 2017 Women’s Region Sides Championship final at Murray Downs Country Club was the sort of bowls you’d want to put in a time capsule.
It needed extra ends after the regulation 45 were played. It took the first 15 ends for one side to establish a break.
That was Geelong, who took a narrow 14-12 lead over a Sandbelt side previously undefeated in their seven sectional matches to finish top of their Section B.
Geelong had done it harder to get to this point. They finished at 5-2, needed shot difference to be their friend to edge out Yarra to make the final, and had lost two of their last three sectionals coming into the decider.
But spearheaded by State rep Nic Shortis, there was quality throughout the Geelong side, and their day one and early day two form had flagged them as potential finalists.
Come the final, and the grind seemed to suit Geelong and their noses were in front. A five-shot lead after 31 ends was as big as the margin got.
But Sandbelt just wouldn’t go away. There were important late-match shots from Amy Macaulay and Faye Clarke for Sandbelt which helped.
Eventually with two rinks done and dusted, Geelong led 37-36 with Sandbelt’s world championships bronze medallist and 2016 Vic Open champion Kelly McKerihen needing to chase down Geelong’s experienced Jacqui McLaren.
McKerihen trailed the jack to take one shot and tie it up at 37-all. McLaren’s rink then produced to grab a one-shot lead going into what was to be the final end.
Then Canada’s McKerihen came up big with an important shot to tie up the match and send all three rinks back into play for extra ends.
More big shots from both sides, including a toucher from Sandbelt teenager Natasha Russell. Predictably it was McKerihen’s rink which would finish last and strongest – the skip producing a moment of magic with her last bowl to produce an overall winning margin.
A new format for the 2017 Women’s Region Sides – three days, two sections of eight teams, and more matches for all – produced some great stories.
Strzelecki region won six of their seven matches in Section B. Only a narrow loss to Sandbelt prevented them from playing finals.
Gippsland hadn’t won a Women’s Region Sides match before 2017. They won four of their seven and played well. Their narrow Day 3 loss to the eventual champions Sandbelt was one of the matches of the tournament.
In Section A, Yarra were a hard-luck story after five wins from seven and missing out to Geelong on making the final.
Defending champions Bendigo Campaspe won only two of their seven matches, but lost four matches by three shots or less.
It was that sort of competition.
Bowls Victoria President Barbara Gilbert thanked both Murray Downs Country Club for their excellent greens and facilities in putting the tournament on, as well as Swan Hill Rural City Council for their ongoing support of the Women’s Region Sides Championship.
Without doubt, the 2017 Women’s Region Sides Championship final will go down as one of the most exciting in history.
Fixtures, Section A
Fixtures, Section B
Results, Section A
Results, Section B
Ladder, Section A
Ladder, Section B