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Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Rick is lord of the rinks

Rick Orchard, a skipper in Shepparton Golf’s ladder-leading division one team, followed his A-grade club championship crown on Tuesday with Goulburn Valley State Singles glory at Tatura last night.

December 9, 2012 10:05pm

New Goulburn Valley State Singles champion Rick Orchard, of Shepparton Golf.


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Rick Orchard’s introduction to bowls came on Christmas night six years ago.

The 44-year-old’s brother Russell was already bowling and brought him down to Shepparton RSL for his first roll.

Orchard was instantly hooked.

He played pennant for Katandra the next season then moved to Shepparton Golf, where he was training, and was part of the club’s second and third straight division one premierships.

Orchard even squeezed in a B-grade club championship singles title in 2008.

He was already on the radar before this season, but this has been his breakthrough campaign.

Orchard is a skipper in Golf’s ladder-leading division one team and followed his A-grade club championship crown on Tuesday with Goulburn Valley State Singles glory at Tatura last night.

His latter triumph came on the same day Russell claimed Shepparton Golf’s B-grade club championship.

‘‘It’s terrific. I had to give footy and a lot of sport away when I was younger, because I had a bad spine,’’ Orchard said.

‘‘It’s a really good sport, because I’ve found something I can do and still manage it.’’

Orchard, who wears a back brace when he bowls, never trailed in yesterday’s final against clubmate Wayne Gribble, a division two skipper, but had some tense moments in his 25-20 victory.

A persistently strong wind made life difficult for the finalists, but Orchard held 9-2, 17-8 and 22-12 advantages in the first-to-25 format.

The game could have been over on the 27th end, with Orchard 23-15 up and holding three shots.

But Gribble attacked the head and managed to bump Orchard’s closest bowl out of the way in favour of his own.

Orchard was unable to finish the match an end later, either, when his final bowl failed to give him the second shot he required for success.

Gribble made things interesting an end later, when he removed Orchard’s best bowl from the equation to award himself four shots and reduce the latter’s buffer to four.

An increasingly confident Gribble then trailed the jack to hold three further shots.

But Orchard responded with his next bowl, regaining shot — although it took a measure to confirm it — to claim the title.

‘‘He’s a real fighter and the way the scoresheet was, he didn’t have a lot to lose — he had to get shots — and you’ve got to remember, if he missed it was game over three or four times,’’ Orchard said.

‘‘A lot of people wouldn’t be brave enough to go for it, but that’s what I admire about him.’’

Orchard, who owns a dairy animal genetics business, underwent a spinal fusion when he was 19 years old.

He was born with six lumbar vertebrae — rather than the usual five — and the sixth was not fused to his tailbone, but it was not until just before he had surgery this was discovered.

The problem ended a promising football career, which included a brief stop with St Kilda’s under-19 side, although he returned a decade after the operation to play in a Katandra senior premiership.

Orchard and Gribble beat Mooroopna’s Paul Warren and East Shepparton’s Kevin Stevens, respectively, to advance to the final.

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