This season’s Goulburn Valley Bowls Division top tier grand final was always going to be one for the ages.
With Shepparton Golf looking for a three-peat and Shepparton Park aiming to send off their coach Mark Ryan off with the ultimate gift, both teams meant business.
In a rematch of last year’s grand final, the arch rivals again took to the greens at Kyabram yesterday.
But that is where most of the similarities stopped.
On a scorching March day last season, Shepparton Golf tore through the Parkers for a 38-shot win.
But on a much milder day, bowlers had to contend with strong winds and this time the match remained in dispute for its entirety.
But one similarity that remained was that again it was Shepparton Golf holding up the Allan Matheson Shield, sealing a remarkable three-peat.
Playing coach Brad Orr was stoked with how his side performed, needing time for the enormity of what he had achieved to sink in.
‘‘It’s very good, we’ve been successful the last three years and Shepp Golf has been successful for a number of years,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve created a tight-knit group and have a good bunch of blokes and a good mix of age groups that get on, on and off the green.
‘‘(Three premierships in a row) is pretty special and something to look back on in years to come. You don’t set out to win three, you set out to win one, so three is a bonus.’’
Golf took the early lead, but at the break the two sides were in a deadlock at 38 shots apiece.
Returning to the green each coach pulled their players into a huddle, spurring them on for the second half.
Plenty of voice came from both sides, as Kris Ferguson could loudly be heard praising Jarryd Tinning’s key bowls.
The Parkers skip was in solid form, as he fought out one of the most entertaining rinks of the day against Golf’s David Daws.
But Daws performed best under pressure, stealing the shot away from the Parkers late as just one shot was the difference in the final score of the rink.
Daws’ side took the 22-21 win and overall on the scoreboard Golf was up, but still not home as they led by a sole shot.
‘‘Full credit to Shepp Park they took it up to us, we didn’t expect them to lay down,’’ Orr said.
‘‘It was close all day, I know we dropped a few numbers going into smoko and as soon as we came out we dropped 10 shots, but to the boys’ credit they stuck there and worked hard and worked away at the scoreboard.’’
Momentum never made any great shift towards either side and every time spectators checked the scoreboard a different side had a narrow buffer.
Brett Gunning and Jeff Anselmi challenged each other in another difficult tussle.
Anselmi lifted to take on his highly favoured opposition, with Gunning snaring just a one-shot buffer at the end of the 25 ends.
Ryan ended his coaching career at Park with his side’s sole rink victory of the day.
Overcoming John Stokes thanks to a consistent showing from all his team, Ryan finished eight shots up.
All eyes then turned to Orr’s contest with Leigh Clark, exactly what the coach had planned.
‘‘To be honest, I wanted my rink to be last, you want the rink to be finishing last that’s winning, you don’t want someone out there who’s battling,’’ he said.
‘‘We slowed it down and had a couple of dead ends which helped and it worked out fine, but full credit to the guys, I couldn’t be happier.’’
Orr had the right tactic as Golf lead John Dagger’s opening bowl of the final end nudged the jack and stayed close, resulting in cheers from the Golf fans.
That moment was when Shepparton Golf knew its third consecutive division one premiership had been achieved with the 87 to 82 victory.
Orr said it was fantastic to see the joy on his teammates’ faces, following division two’s success on Saturday.
Orr has secured five premierships in a row — following two under Ryan at Shepparton Park — as the proud club continues its success.
‘‘(My own success) is probably something I don’t really think about, I’m just quite happy to see other people have success in the club or in the team,’’ he said
‘‘I get more joy out of seeing those blokes have success and the twos have success, I walked home pretty proud (on Saturday) that other than us someone at the club has won a flag.
‘‘It’s a good club and a great one to be around.’’