I Glover, Sunday, 26 July 2015

THE Moody/Johnson combination firmed to favouritism for the Zone Open Pair's final after their strong sem final win, particularly with the Harbord's hardheads, who observe every game and in particular, their chief bowl's critic, Johnny (Hendo) Henderson, who gave a rare nod of approval. Never one to elaborate, he extended himself with "it'll be close".

They had every reason to be confident about Billy Johnson's ability, particularly after his single's win and were equally impressed with Adam Moody's come from behind win in his semi final in the same event, however the regular pairing of the father Ral and son Jamen Lewis combination were always going to keep them on their toes.

Considering the overnight rain which had taken the edge of the green, a combination of the sun and a slight wind had it running around the 12 second mark and it was Belrose who were first to settle and jumped out to an early 7-2 lead.

Initially, all eyes were on Moods and how he fitted into the lead role, particularly as he showed in his single's game he has a very accurate and powerful drive, which rarely if ever was required in the this game, as he continually nailed the jack with excellent draw bowls.

Obviously Billy judiciously selected this partner as they showed great rapport and a fundamental understanding of each other's game, with very little need to have prolonged discussions over what shot to play.

The Lewis combination were slightly more animated, however early in the game Jamen couldn't quite match his opposing lead's bowls, however as the game progressed and perhaps and an intermittent breeze, which alternated between direct north and south west marginally affected Moods consistency, allowing Jamen back into the game.

While the Norths' pair were never more than four shots behind, they were continually on the backfoot either having to either save or make second, which made it difficult to gain the ascendency.

Ral certainly came to the rescue with a great display at skip, continually saving or making the shot, however the Belrose pair generally kept them at best a couple of shots, which resulted in the score stretching to seven shots, the biggest margin of the game.

The pros and cons of the straighter bowl became evident when Norths' held a shot with their bowl right on the edge of the pit and Billy elected to play his forehand, hoping to draw around the short bowls in front, however as is often the case on a narrow hand it held out. In the meantime, Ral played a great draw shot on his forehand to make two, which was practically touching Jamen's shot bowl. 

Sitting directly behind the mat, a needle eye opening was obvious on Billy's backhand and whether mental telepathy came into play, Billy changed hands and his bowl went as straight as a gun barrel, squeezed through the opening and found Ral's second shot, and to everyone's amazement took it out clean without disturbing the original shot bowl. 

Norths' clawed their way back to finish only 18-13 down, and while it could have capped off Ral's bowling year with the senior singles  double, particularly with his son as a partner was unfortunate, however as they say there can only be one winner. 

This honour of course went to Billy Johnson with his previous open singles win, and is only the third player to achieve this rare accomplishment, the others being Jonathon Pollard 2007, Steve Vanderveer 2006 and Crawford Linton, 1996 and 2001. 

The West Pymble pair of Peter Dawson and Arthur Foy to make it to the semis was a great achievement for such a small club and of course Norths' were also well represented in the event with another pair, Sam Owen and Kenta Treacher.

While the limelight is deservedly on the very humble and reserved Billy Johnson, the Belrose club would be equally as pleased to have another young bowler with the calibre of Adam Moody, who is a past rookie's winner and also possesses all the ingredients to progress as far as he wishes in the sport. 

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