The Women's AC World Championship - Chris Clarke's commentary on the final
See also the early rounds commentary.
Good morning from Cairnlea. The flags are positively limp this morning - not a breath of wind. It's still chilly and overcast though. Alison will be particularly pleased with the lack of wind because she hasn't coped as well as Jenny with it.
Today's final is a best of 5 with time limits of 2.5/4.5/6.5/8.5/10.5. I hope they have a quick first game.
The players have been on lawn 1 having a warm up for over 25 minutes now. They have another 15 minutes before being called in for their 10 minute "cool down" period!!
I've been informed that the referees on call today will be
Main Event - Ian Bassett
Bowl - Graeme Roberts
Plate - Brian Foley
For those of you out there with bets on whether there will be any TPs in the event, it's the best weather we've had so far, so don't count your winnings yet!
The players competing today have all been introduced and their referees announced. I think this is a good thing which is sometimes not done before major events. It recognises the achievements of the players who have made it to the final day and sets the atmosphere up nicely.
I'll focus on the Main Event.
It looks like Jenny has won the toss and taken play. Alison takes red and Yellow (RY)
1. K to C2
2. Y to 1 foot N of C4
3. U to C4 ... rating Alison's shooting higher than I do. (I'd have gone 2 feet N of Y)
4. R feathers U ... the crowd gasp. Alison rushes Y 5 feet E of hoop 1 ... good approach ... blobs 1, getting 85% through.
5. Jenny has a nice target from C2 at Alison's balls ... Ian Bassett watches the ball in hoop 1 ... hits it pretty straight at Y, but it moves the wrong way and misses.
6. Alison plays Y and rushes R to the S boundary. Alison croquets R N of and opts for a stoppo approach ... decent shot, maybe 10% under-hit ... runs her hoop, but K is still 7 yards short at hoop 2. Gets a good hoop 3 pioneer, but her rush to 2 is pointing at 6 ... decent cut leaves her 2 yards SE of 2. Makes 2 and has a 3-ball break. Alison leaves her hoop 4 pioneer short, but copes and now has a 4-ball break.
She's lost a bit of control at 1-b and needs a good croquet stroke to recover ... it's short and Alison will have to approach 1-b from 2 yards away angled ... good approach and she's back under control apart from the fact that she hasn't enough room to send U to 3-b, so will end up making 3-b off partner ... no ... opts to leave partner in the middle of the lawn and accept that U 6 yards short fo 3-b is a good enough pioneer - I didn't like that option.
Alison is trying to set up to make a diagonal spread - needs to focus on making 3-b. Gets a reasonable rush to 3-b, which finishes nicely in NSL position - 2 inches shorter would have been Worse Than Death!! Makes 3-b with hoop and roquet and has a good chance of putting together a spread.
Sends U just W of the line of 1 and 2 and rushes K 18" S of the peg - this is a risky spread to try now. I'd be croqueting K 12 yards E. Alison tries to nudge K into wired position at the peg - perfect. Alison lays up level with hoop 5 - her rush is pointing at hoop 5.
7. Jenny is playing U from where it lies - clearly has a massive target ... hits R. Jenny makes 1. I think we'll see her try to get a tidy break rather than thinking of TPOing, but I wouldn't rule it out as a possibility later in the match. Jenny rushes K 7 yards S of 3 after 1 and takes off to get a rush on R, But rushes it into hoop 6, so she has no hoop 3 pioneer within 6 yards. Plays a poor rush to 2 and has to approach from 5 yards away ... has a 4 foot hoop ... cleanly through to the boundary - that's a relief!! Almost rushes Y into the jaws of 1-b after hoop 2, but it bounces away and if she can get a tight rush to 3, she should be ok. Rushes to 3 yards NE of 3, approaches with a stop shot, runs it by 13 yards and has a 6 yarder return roquet ... centre ball ... phew!!
Jenny has to stop and re-stalk a couple of times as the bell rings inside twice to bring people together for a gift presentation to all the players inside the clubhouse. Ken Boal thanks everyone for playing and presents them with a commemorative medal.
Meanwhile Jenny is at 1-b, but has the wrong parity to make a good NSL (Alison's 4-b ball is at 2-b). She might try for a defensive leave here or still try and get a good NSL, settling for one with incorrect parity if it goes wrong. Jenny doesn't try and get a rush E after 2-b and so isn't trying to get a good NSL. Ends up making 3-b with all the balls nearby and is in no-woman's-land now.
The leave ends up being Y (4-b) 10 yards East of the peg, R (1) 8 yards S of hoop 2 and Jenny's balls K (1) 1 foot W of C4 with a 2 foot rush on U (4-B) pointing at Y
8. Alison lifts R and shoots at K from A-Baulk ... actually it looks to be edging into C baulk to me!!! ... hits half ball. Gets a good rush o hoop 1, but her hoop 2 pioneer is 2 yards S of 6. Makes hoop 1 with a rush East and needs to approach 2 from 3 yards SE ... a bit short ... fail-able ... clang.
9. Jenny has a 2-yarder with her 4-b ball. Could make a couple of hops, but I think she'll make a good leave for her hoop 1 ball. Jenny leaves R 4 yards S of hoop 2 possibly cross-wired through 6 from Y S of hoop 3 and rolls towards C1 and guards the corner. Don't like this - R should be 7 yards further north or she could have made something a bit more defensive.
10. Alison isn't even wired and takes on her 16 yarder at partner ... misses
11. Jenny now needs to rush 16 yards to hoop 2 for a standard TP. Really poor croquet stroke leaves her an 8 foot rush which she rushes to 8 yards S of hoop 2. If she fails this, R has a 7 yarder at U. Rolls up fairly well and has a 4 foot 10 degree hoop ... smoothly to the boundary. Can she get a TP on the board??? She'll need to play some tidier strokes than so far, but the balls couldn't be better placed. 11. Oh dear, Jenny has yet again run hoop 3 too firmly and hit peelee out of peeling position. This looks like another ball to the peg. Jenny loses control at 3-b and has a 3 foot hoop - smashes through by 4 feet!! She's got partner quite close to 4-b - will she try and STP or just a 4-b peel or just focus on her break?
Looks like she's focussing on her break as she sends her escape ball to penult ... no ... she's lining up a short 4-b peel with no escape balls ... copes. Now this is a good time for a vertical spread (one of my least favourite leaves). It would make it tricky for Alison to get a break with her hoop 2 ball.
However, Jenny doesn't send partner to penult after 4-b, so it won't be a vertical spread. I'm guessing she'll be trying to make a diagonal spread with Y at the peg not rushing to hoop 2. Doesn't get a rush out of penult, so Y isn't anywhere near the peg. Looking increasingly like a defensive leave.
Sends R (2) 9 yards W of the peg getting a rush on Y (4-b) to the middle of the E boundary and lays up tight in C4 with a rush North.
Clip recap; Jenny U - penult K -peg, Alison R -2, Y -4-b
12. Alison lifts R and takes the short lift from A-Baulk at U in C4 ... hits. Not an easy pick-up for Alison. Her rush to 2 finishes in the NE section of the lawn ... good roll to 5 feet straightish ... outside of the right wire, bounces off leaving her 5 yards from partner.
13. Jenny takes 18 yarder northwards with U near C4 at K ... misses
14. Alison hits 5 yarder with R ... is trying the 6 yard backward take-off to hoop 2 ... good shot (I didn't like the choice) ... runs 2 to the boundary. U is 5 feet W of C3, K is 16y S of U. Alison takes off to U, hits and is calling Ian Bassett. Has the head of her RPM mallet come loose? Will they stop the clock? Ken Bald shouts inside "Has anyone get an Alan Key for an RPM?". One is produced and I'm deciding whether to write "not often you have time a quick screw in the middle of a final", although I do remember a certain World Snooker final ...
Moving on, some spectators have suggested that Alison has a screw loose.
Alison rolls U down to hoop 4, but doesn't get a rush on K. She takes off back to 3 and runs a good hoop to much applause and now has a break. There is the danger that this game will be ruined by time.
Alison approached 3 with a big pass roll rather than a take-off, anyhow she's got a 4-ball break now. What will she do???
a. Go to peg with a leave (spread)
b. Go to peg and peg Jenny out and join up
c. Go to peg and peg Jenny out and split up
d. Something else
Given that she's an Aussie, I'll guess at a.
But before that she's got 7 more hoops to get through and her 1-b pioneer is 5 yards away from the hoop. Alison gets a 1 foot rush on her bad pioneer, but over-hits the rush and needs to approach from 2 yards ... copes. All back under control.
14. (cont.) Alison McCullough's partner to 3-b, so no chance of a 4-b peel temptation. Fails 2-b from 4 inches straight off Jenny's penult ball to lose the first.
Game 1 Jenny Clarke +9 (2hrs 5 mins)
Michael Wright asks "as someone who does that far too often, do you have any words of wisdom as to what causes a good player to fail a well-approached hoop like that? And how to avoid it?"
Chris: "Well, in general, my best advice is "hit it harder". Most hoop like that tend to be wibbled at, catch a tiny bit of wire and don't have anything left to grovel through."
Game 2 (10.43)
Alison has the choice and goes 1st. Jenny takes UK.
1. Y to 8y N of C4
2. K in C2
3. R shoots at Y from the end of B-Baulk ... misses and comes on 2 yards S of R
4. U shoots at Y ... misses
5. R hits Y moving U 3 yards further N, plays a take-off to get a rush to 1, rushes 3 yards East, takes off to 3 foot straight ... clangs. Getting her oppos to take on 3 foot hoops with no break ahead is a key part of Jenny's tactics.
6. Jenny makes hoop 1, but only gets a rush to between 6 and peg. Jenny is the only player I know who takes the following line of play as her standard line. Splits R to 3 trying to get in front of 2 ... looks like she's got a 3 inch hoop, but no, it's just too far. Hits K in C2. Rolls up to 2, leaves a 2 yard straight hoop, runs it by a yard and hits her 4 yarder ... has a break. Jenny plays a poor croquet stroke after 2 and needs a 3 yard backward take-off ... good shot, runs 3 by 6 yards, hits 5 yarder. Now has croquet near C3. Rolls R to 5 leaving a 6 yarder at Y ... hits. She's playing about 10 good shots too many each turn at the moment!! Anyway, no has all 4 balls in a tidy position. Hopefully we'll see an NSL this game.
Somebody has just asked whether Jenny is Mike McClure in disguise sue to her untidy breaks. I'm not sure whether that comment is more or less offensive than someone asking me if I was Chris Mulliner earlier this week!!!! :-)
6. (cont) Jenny makes a good NSL, although she had to croquet the NSL ball (Y) into position from over a foot away. She has laid up level with 5 on the E boundary with a rush pointing just S of R (might be a target, but a long one)- good turn.
7. Alison lifts R and shoots at K from B-Baulk ... misses ... looked like a decent shot, but may have hilled in-lawn.
8. Another standard tp opportunity for Jenny for a couple of good shots. Commits partner 9 yards in-lawn with her initial rush - that's a positive mindset!! Plays the big stoppo/drive out of C4 - R finishes 3 yards short of hoop 2 and she has a 4 foot rush rush to hoop 1 - good shot. Jenny's rush bobbles and finishes 2 yards short - would have been ideal with a decent contact. Good approach and even better doesn't run it by 8 yards but strokes it through and has a rush. Another standard tp ahead. This time Jenny is running hoop 3 from the jaws, so gets control at long last!!! Jawses 4-b after 3 and rushes W of her hoop 4 pioneer, so it's getting scrappy again. She'll be leaving U in 4-b until after hoop
5. Removes her black University of Canterbury hoodie and throws it off the lawn. Doesn't get a rush out of 5, but plays a good roll sending R 3 yards SE of 1-b and getting a 2 foot rush peel on U. Rolls U 5 feet NE of penult, but fails to rush Y nicely in front, so looks like she's playing to get a Willock on Y to 2-b after hoop 6.
Runs 6 by 4 yards and spanks off U. Leaves U mid lawn and it looks like she's going to tidy up the break before setting up for a delayed double. Jenny's bit of "tidying up her break" involved running 1-b by 13 yards and centre balling U from 6 yards!!!! She takes off back to 1-b to get a rush on R but finishes short and hits another 4 yarder. A good croquet stroke gets her back in control. Jenny is setting up for her delayed double. Gets her 3-b pioneer in the way of sending U to penult, so it finishes 4 yards away. Hits her rush to 3-b on the wrong side leaving a 3 yard approach from East ... a bit short ... any bets of which ball she'll hit first after 3-b???? Runs 3-b to 3yards in front of 4-b. Y is 2 feet shorter than U ... hits Y and that'll be the end of the triple as she looks to get a rush on U to 4-b. Smashes through 4-b to the safety of a boundary meaning she's only got a 4 yard return ... hits. An angled penult is run to the peg - 5 yarder at U coming up ... hits. Gets to the peg. The leave is R 3 yards off middle of E boundary, Y 12 yards S of C2 and UK tight in C4 with a short rush pointing at R.
Clip recap; Jenny Penult (U) and peg (K), Alison 1 + 1
9. Alison lifts R to A-Baulk and shoots at U ... she's 3/3 so far on this one ... hits quarter ball to a big round of applause. Alison rushes K 5 yards W of hoop 2 and takes off to get a rush on Y to hoop 1 ... good shot. The sun is starting to break out and we are still wind free. Rushes to 1 yard W of hoop 1 - not the easiest place to get a rush to the middle of the W boundary from. Hits a lot of wire at 1, but the stroke was hit firmly and the ball grovels through ... this looks like a miss-able hampered stroke ... no, she can run the mallet along the outside of the hoop ... hits. Big croquet stroke required for a break. Good hoop 3 pioneer, but no rush to 2. Needs to approach from 5 yards W ... good shot ... clangs a straight hoop.
10. Jenny hits a short shot with her peg ball. Leaves R in middle of W boundary, Y 3 yards NE of hoop 3 (wired from R??) and lays up with a Heap corner across C4.
11. Alison shoots Y at K ... misses
12. Jenny plays U and hits Y. Croquets Y 3 yards in-lawn getting a rush on K to penult. Good shot finishes 2 feet NE of penult. Makes penult, getting a rush near C2 ... cuts it off the W boundary 5 yards N of R ... takes off to get a rush on R to rover ... good shot. Rushes R 2 yards SE of rover and opts to try to take off to get a rush on Y to rover??????? Gets a 2 yard rush pointing at the peg. Snicks it. Now approaching rover from 3 yards SW of 3-b, sending Y towards C3 ... not in front ... joins 3 yards S of K.
13. Alison takes a 19 yarder R ant Y ... misses narrowly.
14. Jenny rushes K off the N boundary, takes off inside the N yard line to get a cut-rush on R to Y. Rushes well to rover and now has a short rush on K back to the peg from near C2. Pegs out from 8 feet.
Jenny takes the second +25 to go 2-0 ahead. (12.20)
The players have taken lunch
Game 3 (12.53)
Jenny leads 2 games to 0 ; +9 +25
Jenny has the choice and will go first. Alison chooses RY
1. K to C2
2. Y 1 foot N of C4
3. U to C4 - really wish Jenny would go 2 feet N of Y
4. R shoots at U ... can Alison make it 5/5??? ... no, misses on the left.
5. Will Jenny try for a cannon, or nudge the balls out a bit? She's gone for and got the cannon which was one of the shots she was meant to practice pre-game. The cannon sends R 7 yards E of the peg and she rushes Y almost off the W boundary - that's why I don't play that shot. Approaches to long angled position and returns 3 yards E of partner in C2.
6. Alison takes 16 yarder Y at R ... misses
7. Jenny plays K, runs hoop 1 by a meagre 10 yards and has a break. Goes to 4-b with a rough OSL.
8. Alison lifts R near the E boundary at shoots at U just W of C4 ... misses
9. Jenny has made hoop 2 and almost picked up a 3 ball break. Good croquet stroke out of C2 going to a dodgy hoop 3 pioneer and she should have a break. Delayed TP???
No, it's going to be another dour ball to the peg. All anyone ever remembers is who won, not whether you did a tp or not. And let's face it, most people don't even remember who won!!!!
Jenny plays a couple of imperfect strokes and her hoop 6 pioneer is now located near hoop 1. Gets a good rush to 6, but over-hits it by 3 yards. Takes off in front of 6 - good shot. Runs 6 by 7 yards and is shooting at her 1-b pioneer ... no, she's taking on a 7 yarder at partner ... hits.
Jenny gets hoop and roquet at 1-b - phew!!!
9. (cont.) Jenny gets to the peg without any attempt at a peel. She's making a horizontal/diagonal spread ... nope, she's aborted and sent the peg ball 5 yards off the middle of the E boundary. Rolls K into C4 and leaves it a rush on U at Y between 1 and 2.
Clip recap U - peg K - 4-B, R and Y 1+1.
10. I don't think anyone has ever won a World Championship having been 2 games and 2 breaks down. Can Alison hit her lift? Alison lifts R to A-Baulk and shoots at K ... misses
11. Jenny rushes short of Y, takes off to get a rush to 4-b , rushes 5+ yards south, approaches to leave an angle hoop. Smashes through by 2 feet and gets enough hill so she can hit her deep ball. She now has a big roll to send Y to rover getting a rush on U which is 6 yards W of the peg ... good shot. Y is 1 foot south of rover and she has a 2 yarder pointing close to penult. Rushes 2 yards SE of penult, takes off and amazingly runs it with control!!! Should be all over now.
Jenny becomes the first ever Women's World Champion +9 +25 +26.
This is the 29th WCF World Singles Championship and as I mentioned at the start of the week, it is the first time we have had an odds-on favourite pre-event. It is now the first time anyone has won a World Singles without dropping a game - a good performance.
Whilst her breaks weren't pretty, if you look back at the match turn by turn, you'll struggle to find any old-fashioned errors - and that's going to be tough to beat at any level.