St Johns Bowling Club celebrates after taking out a thrilling No.1 State pennants final against Belrose at the Ballina Bowling Club yesterday and, inset, with their prize.
St Johns Bowling Club celebrates after taking out a thrilling No.1 State pennants final against Belrose at the Ballina Bowling Club yesterday and, inset, with their prize.

Ex-international leads side to win

FORMER New Zealand international bowls player Paul Girdler never threw in the towel when his St Johns Park team was down by five with eight ends to go in the State No.1 pennants final yesterday at Ballina Bowling Club.

St Johns came back to beat Belrose 64-61 in the battle of the two powerhouse Sydney clubs.

And with Girdler not the only former player with international experience in the St Johns line-up, why would he ever panic?

Because alongside Girdler wearing the red and blue of the south-west Sydney club was Steve Glasson, the 2004 World Outdoors Singles champion.

Other St Johns competitors Mark Berghofer, Mathew Pietersen and Ben Twist have all represented Australia.

So when the going got tough and Girdler’s team was down by five, what was going through his head?

“It was really tight but we all kept our composure,” he said.

“No panic was needed.

“Nothing rattled us.”

Girdler singled out Brent ‘Tiger’ Norman for leading the way with his calmness under pressure.

“We were two down on the last end and Tiger had a very hard shot but he kicked the jack,” Girdler said.

“We built a lot of momentum from that.”

Norman’s shot tied the scores and took play to an extra end where St Johns pushed on to wrap up the final.

Girdler praised the northern Sydney club Belrose for making the final one to remember.

“We actually played them in a trial match on Wednesday before the tournament started and it wasn’t serious or anything but they still put up a very good game,” he said.

“We knew they’d come hard at us.

“We had a lot of supporters come up for this and they were very parochial.

“There’s a lot of pride in this club.”

Ballina Bowling club player and bartender David Zorzo looked on with amazement at the quality of the final.

“It went down to the last bowl; it was a brilliant final,” he said.

“Belrose were the underdogs and they were down by 20 points early but they came back to be within one shot at the very last end of the match.”

Belrose bowler Cy Threlfall picked up player of the series.

Zorzo said the State No.1 pennants tournament was warmly embraced by his local club and town.

“There were 180 competitors that came to Ballina for this and probably 350 people all up at the club,” he said.

“I heard nothing but good comments on the way we handled the event.

“There were a lot of supporters.

“The Ballina Shire Rotary Club showed up and cooked breakfast and managed to raise a lot of money while they were there.

“I took the weekend off and enjoyed myself in the good company.”



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