Shepparton Golf has completed a remarkable season by dethroning triple-reigning-premier Shepparton Park in a thrilling Goulburn Valley Bowls Division midweek pennant division one grand final yesterday.By Marc McGowan
Shepparton Park’s mighty three-year reign is over.
Shepparton Golf instead completed a rare back-to-back premiership combination, claiming Goulburn Valley Bowls Division’s midweek pennant division one title a year after doing the same in division two.
But not without the usual drama grand finals provide.
The Parkers, down by six shots with 15 ends to go, went ahead when skipper Di Hands drew a fourth shot on her 22nd and the game’s 64th end.
It took an extraordinary Pauline Naughton bowl to turn the match on its head.
Naughton had not played in Golf’s top side since December, but came in as skipper to replace Marie Clurey, whose husband Leo — a much-admired club member for two decades — recently died.
Naughton’s first bowl on her 23rd end was too heavy and wide, but she corrected wonderfully on her second and it took a deflection off a Shepparton Park bowl before stopping alongside the kitty.
Her second Jock Hastie remarked — without the benefit of a measure — they were probably four shots down before that.
It was just what Shepparton Golf needed.
The Parkers’ overall lead was still five, but that bowl halted rival skipper Bev Cahill’s momentum.
That rink proved pivotal in many ways.
Shepparton Park skipper Hands won 20 of the last 26 shots on her rink against Bonnie Mullins to emerge with a 32-15 victory, but Golf skipper Jenny Waddell was just as dominant in a 33-16 success over Bev Thorn. They simply cancelled one another out.
Naughton’s rinkmates — Hastie, lead Rita Ivak and third Ian McCarten — took centre stage.
They crowded the kitty with bowls on their penultimate end.
Cahill and co had no answer.
A five-shot collect put Shepparton Golf ahead for the first time in eight ends — even if it was by just a single shot. The Parkers never led again.
Waddell picked up two more shots and Mullins, on her final end, made her own contribution when she disrupted the head and caused a three-shot turnaround that ended with one Golf shot.
Enter Naughton for the knockout blow.
Her rinkmates again looked after her, but she put the icing on the cake when she drew a fourth shot then watched as Cahill’s attempt only succeeded in crashing into a Shepparton Golf bowl.
Golf was eight shots clear at that point and in party mode.
A draw was the worst result at that point for Shepparton Golf, but Thorn’s quartet did not threaten that scenario and claimed just one shot to reduce the final margin to seven.
Naughton was overwhelmed with emotion afterwards.
‘‘We shortened our ends and that changed everything and, luckily, we kept winning to keep the mat, but everyone played well,’’ Naughton said.
‘‘It’s brilliant to get here. We did this for Marie Clurey today and Leo. Poor Leo was buried yesterday and we did it for them.
‘‘They are great club members and good players and I know I’ve done it for Marie today.’’
Golf’s season is not over, either. It will be back on the green next Tuesday in the Central Goulburn Murray Region finals at Seymour.
More success there will result in a ticket to the state finals.
Thorn and her Shepparton Park teammates are already looking to next season.
‘‘It’s disappointing. We were completely out-bowled on our rink. What more can you say?’’ Thorn said.
‘‘We were up against it all day. Di covered our rink, but, unfortunately, Bev went down on the last two (ends). That’s it for the year, but we’ve still got next year and the year after.
‘‘We’re not invincible, as it showed today, and they deserve full credit.’’
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