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The Women's AC World Championship - early rounds commentary

[<<] [>>] by Chris Clarke
24th October 2012 (International)

See also Chris Clarke's commentary on the final.

Day 1

This is the first World Champs of the 21 that I've attended where we have an odds-on favourite before play begins.

Jenny Clarke(NZ) is ranked almost 100 places higher than the next group of players. She has considerable experience both internationally and at this venue and will be hard to beat.

Alison Sharpe(Aus) is fresh from a summer's play in the UK where she put together some good results, narrowly failing to qualify for the Opens K.O. and beating some strong men like Robert Wilkinson.

Ailsa Lines(Eng) comes into the event having won her last 5 games and having completed three TPs in a recent event at Nottingham, her home club.

Rosemary Graham(Aus) won all her games in this year's Interstate and followed it up with a solid performance in the Aussie Eights, completing a TP in her final game. Rosie reached the semis of the Women's GC Worlds last year and is a tough match player.

Trica Devlin(Aus) comes into the event having won her last 7 games. She has a win this year against world number 7 Stephen Forster and is still improving with 6 TPs in the last year.

These would be my top 5 players, but I'll highlight three "dark horses" who people may not have heard of, capable of producing an upset.

Jannine Hawker(Aus) 5 TP's in the last year show a clear upward spiral of form for this WA player.

Alison Wall(NZ) has a strong technique which I always believe is important in major events. Alison has played at this venue before and whilst not being a big peeler is a tough match player.

Megan Reynolds(Aus) is a new player to me, so I'll try and watch some her play over the next couple of days.

The blue sky has been replaced by cloud and the breeze is freshening. Ailsa Lines has her bobble hat on and the players are starting to look cold.

Round 1 is now complete and the chilly breeze is certainly causing problems for the players. 62% of the first round games went to time. Jenny Clarke was first to finish with a tidy +23 against Kathleen Colclough. Rosie Graham also played well to beat Alison Wall +25. Marion McInnes made Alison Sharpe work to record +17 win. The other games took a bit longer.

The biggest upset that I've seen to date was Baubre Murray (NZ) beating Willi Silk (Aus) 17-9. Baubre is one of the highest handicap players here and will be thrilled to have got a win so early. Another bottom seed to record an early win was Susan Bertram who beat Creina Dawson 19-17.

With some players complaining about "turbulence", playing conditions weren't easy for round 2. Even the top seeds started to struggle with Alison Sharpe looking particularly fragile against Kay Chynoweth. After 2.5 hours it was 8-8 before Kay pulled ahead to record a 12-10 win.

58% of games went to time this round. Notable exceptions were Wendy Dickson starting to look more fluent in a win against Robbie Easther and Jannine Hawker beating Pam Gentle.

One of the features that I've noticed so far is that some of the players are taking on 10-20% hoops when there are better options available.

The last round of today will be starting shortly and it could be fairly cold by the time it finishes at around 7pm.

With some players complaining about "turbulence", playing conditions weren't easy for round 2. Even the top seeds started to struggle, with Alison Sharpe looking particularly fragile against Kay Chynoweth. After 2.5 hours it was 8-8 before Kay pulled ahead to record a 12-10 win.

58% of games went to time this round. Notable exceptions were Wendy Dickson starting to look more fluent in a win against Robbie Easther and Jannine Hawker beating Pam Gentle.

One of the features that I've noticed so far is that some of the players are taking on 10-20% hoops when there are better options available.

The last round of today will be starting shortly and it could be fairly cold by the time it finishes at around 7pm.

Alison Sharpe overcame her loss in round 2 yesterday to become the first player to win in round 3. Alison Wall got a much needed first win against Kathie Grant and now should qualify without too many dramas. There were lots of close tussles in the 5's vs 6's battles, which was good to see. There are several players in this event who are fairly high handicaps and it is great that they have had the desire and confidence to put their names forward - they should improve from the experience, which is one of the most important parts of events such as this.

Megan Reynolds, Rosemary Newsham and Anna Miller were the only non top seeds to remain unbeaten.

Day 2

Today has a mixture of blue sky and cloud and a light but cold breeze. There was rain overnight and the hoops look a bit easier this morning. I think we'll see more points scored in round 4 than in any of yesterday's rounds.

Day 2 will see the final two rounds of block play followed by what may be fairly complicated and lengthy play-offs for 4th place - more of this later.

From a tactical perspective, most openings are either standard tice or corner 2 openings. The corner 2 openings are generally inappropriate for the players concerned and whilst I like the standard tice as an opening, most players are laying their tices way too long (16 yards).

Jenny writes: Well, Chris is off watching Steelers v Bengals, and I've just enjoyed a scrummy dessert of apple pie, custard and ice cream, so it's a good time to settle down with my beer and coke (separate vessels!) and write a day 2 report.

I've finished the first game of the round, but expect Ali Sharpe and to join me soon. With just one round to go it is far from clear who will be the qualifiers in each block. I'll start by going down the blocks and give you an idea where things stand:

Block A: Jenny Clarke and Leah ONeill through. Leah has played very solidly to record 3 early wins Lynda Davis will be in the plate, but should have some very competitive matches there. At this stage Kathleen Colclough is highly likely to qualify, and if Anne can beat Beatrice, they will play off for the 4th spot.

Block B: This block has been turned on its head somewhat with underdog Kay Chenowyth upsetting Alison Sharpe in the wind and qualifying early. Alison is also easily through, but otherwise we have Marion McInnes on 2 (playing Kay, but playing ok and today using her own balls!), Willy on 1 and having a fair bit of time on teh lawn against Alison who is on 3back and penult after a death roll peel rejected back onto the striker's ball. Judy Evans is playing the impressive kiwi Baubre Murray and a win puts Judy through, a loss makes for more playoffs. Summary: Ali 3, Kay 3,Marion 2, Judy 2, Willy 1, Baubre 1 (Ali v Willy, Marion v Kay, Judy v Baubre)

Block C: Ailsa Lines is through on 4 wins after a very tight 4th round match against Jane Magill. Megan Reynolds (currently playing Ailsa in a scrappy match) is also through undefeated so far. Otherwise we have Lizzie Bassett on 1 and hot favourite against Cynthia Tacey on lawn 12 (i.e too far away for reports!) Cynthia is on no wins. Jane Magill (1 win) is playing Barbara McTiernan (2 wins). If Jane and Lizzie win we get a 3way playoff for 2 places.

Block D: Rosey Graham and Rosemary Newsham are already through. Kathie Grant (2 wins) is currently behind against Rosey. Creina Dawson (1 win) had a big upset win last round against Alison Wall and is now playing Rosemary N Sue Bertram and Alison Wall (both 1 win) are playing off for either a place in the KO or a playoff (depending if Creina can do it again).

Block E: Tricia Devlin and Liz McLay are both through. Youngster Tiffany Street is into the plate. Alison Robinson (2 wins) is currently playing Tiffany and should qualify. Finally, Kay Seeary (1 win) is playing Elaine Coverdale (2 wins). If Kay wins they'll have another go in a playoff.

Block F: The top seeds here have gone strongly.. Chloe Aberley, Anna Miller and Ann Sharp are through. Frances Ransom (zero) is playing Heather Ross (1) and Virgina Arney (1) is playing Anna.

Block G: Sue Beattie was the only person to have officially qualified after 3 rounds last night. Robbie Easther (NZ) has had a tough time and is in the plate, and Wendy Dickson won a close match against Jannine Hawker last match to qualify for the main event KO. Otherwise we have Pam Gentle (2) v Wendy, Kerri-Ann Organ (1) who had a good win against Robbie playing Jannine and needing to win to get through.

Block H: Margaret Melville survived a scare against Jean Pack and is now through thanks to a final-round win by qualifier Judy Wembridge over Wendy Betteridge (NZ). So: Margaret and Judy through. Jean Pack in the plate. Marga (2) is playing Margaret, Pauline Reid (2) is playing Jean Pack, and Wendy (2) is finished and hoping that the two women on 2 wins don't both win!

While I've been writing this Wendy has come back (26-0 to Judy), and Alison has progressed impressively on lawn 2 and is almost finished (4b and peg?). Ailsa is having the most of a scrappy game against Megan on lawn 3.

The weather is about as nice as it has been so far - warm sun, not too much breeze, lawns speeding up, but unfortunately the hoops are getting pretty loose already. Maybe we get lucky and they move some of the hoops for the semis?

Day 3

Much more exciting matches today with three going to a decider and one still fairly early days of game 2.

Keeping with Draw order: Ailsa is just finishing off for a 2-0 win against Kay (well, at rover and peg now vs 4 and 4) Kathleen pegged a ball out early with her backward clip on 2back and Wendy on about 4 and rover and 18 mins to go. She then hit from around corner 2 to two balls at hoop 4 but failed a very angled 2back, and had another go at an angled 2back to keep Wendy interested. However Wendy picked up the break beautifully - rushing partner west of Kathleen's ball, putting out a good hoop 5 pioneer and rushing well to hoop 4. She ran a good hoop to get a north-west rush, but then played a poor croquet stroke to leave the hoop 6 pioneer slightly closer to the peg than to 6, and a very wibbly hoop stroke at 5 (possibly trying to get a rush out) saw that chance evaporate. Kathleen eventually won with no more points scored, 20-15. They restarted pretty quickly and Kathleen looks to be among the balls again. She has a lovely balanced stance and plays Standard style with a very long mallet. On important strokes she has a huge, but very deliberately straight, follow through. She's currently on hoop 5 with a 4ball break.

Pauline Reid has led the kiwi comeback with a scrappy win over Anna Miller - she clawed back into game 2 after an early deficit Anna never got her backward ball off hoop 2. Not sure the final score in that game, but Anna was 2 and peg, and both Pauline's balls were 3back or further. They're having a quick cuppa before resuming for the decider. Chris thinks 19-13 Sue Beattie has finished for the day - she pegged one out and was rover or peg with the other when time expired. Heather had fairly advanced clips in that game and it did look like it could have gone either way.

Final match in the main event which is under way is Liz McLay (NZ) vs Beatrice McGlen (ENG). Beatrice comfortably took the first, but Liz led the second most of the way until Beatrice picked up a good break. 2 points behind and with only a few minutes to go Beatrice (4b and 1b) hit in with her 4b ball with Liz laid up in corner 3. Unfortunately the takeoff from the west boundary was halted by hoop6. She took on what might have been a juicy double and snicked the front ball - before cannoning the back ball off the court. The takeoff to get behind blue just clipped blue leaving a difficult croquet stroke to approach 4back and she retreated to partner after failing to get in front. Liz cornered, Beatrice rushed to north of 1back, played a disappointing roll approach and bounced off to leave the match tied at one all.

As I type, Beatrice has just missed a hampered shot after 1, Ailsa is having a leave with her rover ball, and we are sampling Max Brenner chocolates (thanks for the tip Liz Fleming!)

The bowl - we think Ann Sharp won in two, Creina won in two.Marion won in two, Megan and Rosemary are in their second game with Megan just about to run hoop 1. Chris has just got Dominion out, so I'm outta here for a bit!

Day 4

Today finished under lights with two very close matches and a comfortable win in the third for Pauline Reid (26-5) over Anna Miller.

Wendy Dickson v Kathleen Colclough game 3

Wendy got to rover and peg vs Kathleen on 5 and 4b. Kathleen hit the lift (probably a double), but didn't get going initially. She got in again and picked up a break well. She ran rover with about three minutes to go, looking like putting together a scrappy leave. She then made the mistake of pegging Wendy out, and played this stroke with a big split that left her a 5 yarder on partner. She drifted past this, with the peg ball ending a couple of yards south of, and just east of, 4back.

Wendy then took her lift and just hit the 8 yarder, splitting Kathleen towards corner 2, putting K's 4b ball near 1 (probably wired from the peg ball) and shot off into corner 4.

Kathleen just missed her shot into corner 4 to go down 24-21 in the third. Both players had some really good patches of play in this match. Wendy will play Ailsa Lines in the last 16 tomorrow.

Beatrice McGlen v Liz McLay was the only match still going when the lights came on, on lawn 3.

Liz had been doggedly staying in touch, a few hoops behind, for most of game 3. With about 40 mins to go, Liz took a 2 point lead, but gave Beatrice several shots for big rewards which she very narrowly missed.

With Beatrice penult and penult, Liz 4b and peg and about 17 min to go, Liz laid up at 4b with Beatrice at rover and penult. Beatrice just missed to the south boundary. Liz then rushed to 4b, but stuck in the hoop. Beatrice was again achingly close shooting from rover at partner on the boundary. Liz made 4b, rushed very well to penult, then took off to Beatrice on the boundary. Things looked a little inevitable when Liz rushed a ball back through rover to take croquet from one foot in front of rover.

Liz then rushed to the peg, the timer went off to signal the full 10 hours of the match had expired and Liz pegged out to join four other kiwis in the last 16.

Matchups in the main event KO for tomorrow are:

Jenny Clarke v Kathie Grant
Judy Wembridge v Margaret Melville
Tricia Devlin v Alison Robinson
Lizzie Bassett v Rosie Graham
Ailsa Lines v Wendy Dickson
Pauline Reid v Chloe Aberley
Sue Beattie v Jannine Hawker
Liz McLay v Alison Sharpe


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