It was state of origin a week early when Beth Quinlan played Marilyn Emerton in the final of the Ladies Black Douglas Singles for Masters yesterday at the South Tweed Sports Club.
It was a match worthy of final status as Beth Quinlan from St John’s Park outlasted a determined Marilyn Emerton from Mooloolaba, 25-20 in just-on two hours.
Conditions varied as rain showers came and went and the wind occasionally gave players a momentary pause. It didn’t impact on the quality of the bowls and early on Emerton’s ability to save was brilliant. Twice in the space of 3 ends Emerton turned a potential 4 shot deficit to a 1 shot advantage leaving a rueful Quinlan wondering when her deft drawing and up shots would count on the scoreboard.
Quinlan with one eye on the clock (with a 5pm flight to Sydney) seemed unsettled early and Emerton capitalised. During the match both ladies had a run of ends and Emerton’s quick 10 shots from ends 2 to 5 found her 10-2 up and Quinlan driving frequently without success. At 5-10 down, Quinlan held 4 before Emerton played a great weighted shot to not only sit Quinlan’s best, but turned the 4 down into a shot for her and a five shot turnaround. Quinlan’s rueful smirk said it all.
Two ends later Emerton did it again. After each had played 3 bowls, Quinlan had two shots close, in front and a few inches off centre of kitty then Quinlan adds a 3rd shot while limiting Emerton’s options. With her forehand and drive blocked, it was a choice to either dead draw a backhand or play a backhand with slight weight for her back bowl. Again Emerton turned 4 down into 1 up. A brilliant draw to within inches gave her the shot and she led 12-6.
Another 2 at the next pushed the lead to 14-6 but a four end run of 7-0 not only brought Quinlan back to 13-14, it seemed to spark her confidence also. It was 17 all by the 18th end but with her backhand working brilliantly, Emerton collected a further 2 to lead 19-17 before a critical moment in the match at the next end.
With Emerton possibly holding 3 and the backhand blocked, Quinlan went with weight on the forehand but sailed a bowl width wide of the jack and into the sand. Emerton added further pressure with a toucher sitting in front of the kitty to possibly hold 4 and looking at a potential 23-17 lead. Quinlan was narrow on the drive and took a wick back in off an Emerton bowl, moved the shot bowl and kitty to her advantage to provide a somewhat lucky 2 shots to Quinlan. Emerton to her eternal credit did not react and moved to the next end with the scores tied at 19 all.
Emerton played her worst end next and dropped another 3 shots as Quinlan led 22-19 and worse was to follow. After her first at the next sits inches back from the kitty, Quinlan’s second nudged it to take back the advantage. Emerton’s weighted 3rd was narrow and unfortunately for her bumped Quinlan’s short 3rd into contention. Emerton again went to her backhand but just missed the kitty and her bowls rolls through beyond the count giving a further 2 to Quinlan leaving her all but there at 24-19.
With Quinlan sensing victory she put her first two 6 and 8 inches front/back of the kitty and her 3rd behind to cover Emerton’s bowls. With her last and down match, Emerton needed to save and save she did. On the forehand, Emerton crashed into Quinlan’s bowl and the kitty to claim a vital single shot and trailed 20-24.
With three bowls each played Quinlan held 2 chose shots and match again with Emerton having two back bowls. Emerton’s favoured backhand, a drive or weighted shot appeared unlikely with a short bowl in the way. With more options on the forehand and she went with weight but was way too narrow and missed the lot giving the shot, the end and the match to Quinlan 25-20 in just on two hours and 24 ends.