Three-time Australian International Bowler of the Year Aron Sherriff has shown the world exactly why he’s one of the best players on the planet, leading the Gold Coast Hawks to their inaugural BPL championship and securing a remarkable fourth successive win in as many installments.
Hosted at the state of the art Naenae bowls complex in Lower Hutt, Wellington - crowds piled in for the eagerly anticipated Finals Night for BPL07, with the top four franchises taking to the carpet for their shot at the silverware and a slice of the $100,000 winners purse.
After a gruelling 14-rounds of qualifying, the Hawks and Brisbane Pirates finished first and second respectively, with the Murray Steamers and Illawarra Gorillas chalking up third and fourth place to remain in contention and advancing through to the Elimination Final.
A determined Gorillas side comprising six-time World Indoor singles champion Jeremy Henry, reigning World Champion of Champion singles exponent Aaron Teys and two-time Commonwealth silver medallist and Scottish international Kay Moran, entered the televised rink in red hot form, dispatching Canadian superstar Ryan Bester and his side of Australian rising star Ellen Ryan and Moama representative Michael Walker in straight sets, 5-2, 7-6 - earning them a place in the preliminary final.
The semi-final showdown saw a mouth-watering contest between two of the world’s best skippers Alex Marshall and Sherriff, both players who have been in scintillating form for their respective franchises all week, with Sherriff making his fourth-successive final after switching franchises from the three-time champion Sydney Lions to the Hawks.
Aptly supported by fellow Jackaroo squad members Nathan Rice and Lynsey Clarke, Sherriff’s Hawks proved unstoppable as they progressed through to the Grand Finale taking the match-up in straight sets, 9-5, 6-3.
Not ones to be disheartened, Marshall, a five-time Commonwealth gold medalist, recently crowned dual Commonwealth gold medalist Kelsey Cottrell and tournament debutante and decorated Queensland state champion Michael Breen bounced back in epic fashion, taking the first set against the Gorillas, 9-7 - with Marshall playing arguably the bowl of the tournament to propel the Pirates into the final.
Leading the second set 4-3 heading in to the final end, Marshall wasted no time in driving the jack clean into the ditch with his bowl following and nestling in an unbeatable position, setting up a well deserved second shot at the Hawks and consigning the Gorillas to third place to round out an impressive campaign.
With the two best performed sides of the tournament fittingly winning through, the final promised plenty and most certainly didn’t disappoint.
Trading bowl for bowl, all players put on a spectacle to remember with the highlights reel likely going down in BPL history as one of the greatest finals since the concept’s inception, particularly with Sherriff and Marshall treating the crowds to a bowls feast end after end.
An eventual straight sets victory, 5-3, 7-7, likely flattered the Hawks, however an unprecedented fourth title to Sherriff, albeit with a new franchise, saw the 32-year-old retain the BPL Most Valuable Player tag - an accolade he was also awarded in BPL06.
As the curtain falls on a hugely successful week at Naenae, players, fans, coaches and officials have lauded the eight-month old complex, heaping praise on both the organisation and hospitality afforded as part of the campaign, including a special appreciation to both Bowls New Zealand and Bowls Australia for their combined
All focus will now switch to the BPL08 set to be held back at the magnificent Pine Rivers club in Brisbane, with dates yet to be confirmed.
Results at a Glance
Bowls Premier League 07, Naenae Bowling Club, Wellington
Gold Coast Hawks d Brisbane Pirates; 5-3, 7-7
BPL07 Most Valuable Player
Aron Sherriff (Gold Coast Hawks)