The 2018 PBA Trans-Tasman Challenge went down to the wire with Australia coming out victorious in one of the closest finishes to date with the very last bowl of the event at the Deer Park Bowling Club in Melbourne. In the play off between the the two top players, Australia’s Bryce Young and Southland’s Craig Merrilees fought out a close first set which went the way of the Aussie 10-8 before he closed out the second set 10-6 to take the first game and give Australia a 1-nil lead.
North Harbour’s Bart Robertson took on Curtis Hanley and after going down 4-8 in the first set, fought back to take the second set 10-6 to force the game to a tiebreaker. Robertson continued his momentum by taking the tiebreaker 2-0 and squaring the final at 1-all.
The final and deciding game of the Trans-Tasman was between Hawkes Bay’s Dean Drummond and Brett Mahoney. The first set saw the Aussie take the advantage with a 10-6 win but Drummond came back in the second set to secure a 7-6 win and into a tiebreaker to decide the trophy. At a set each and one bowl each remaining in the deciding end, Drummond was 2 down when he trailed the jack with his last bowl to hold two shots within 6 inches of the jack which had the Scotty’s Meats NZ PBA team with one hand on the trophy before a stunning last bowl from Australia saw Mahoney play a perfectly weighted shot to sit Drummond’s shot bowl and take the 2018 PBA Trans-Tasman trophy for Australia.
Merrilees performance finishing as top kiwi opened the door for fellow Southlander Craig Tinker to make the 2019 team. That team should see the return of Murray Glassey and Andrew Kelly who were unavailable due to other overseas commitments this year, and Drummond will get another chance to repeat his near-heroics. The NZ team have now made their way up-state to Shepparton north of Melbourne to compete in the Victorian Open.
DAY 2 RESULTS
Bryce Young (Aus) bt Bart Robertson (NZ) 8-5, 12-2; Craig Merrilees (NZ) bt Jamie Pearce (Aus) 13-1, 8-4; Curtis Hanley (Aus) bt Paul King (NZ) 10-7, 11-3; Brett Mahoney (Aus) bt Bradley Down (NZ) 15-3, 13-5; Dean Drummond (NZ) bt Brendan Gallagher (Aus) 10-4, 4-7, 2-1. Australia win round 3-2
Gallagher (Aus) bt Down (NZ) 9-7, 16-5; Young (Aus) bt Drummond (NZ) 10-5, 2-13, 2-1; Pearce (Aus) bt Robertson (NZ) 8-5, 7-7; Hanley (Aus) bt Merrilees (NZ) 15-1, 8-6; Mahoney (Aus) bt King (NZ) 13-8, 13-3. Australia win round 5-0
Bryce Young 5 wins; Curtis Hanley 4 wins; Brett Mahoney 3 wins 6.5 set
Craig Merrilees 3 wins; Bart Robertson 2 wins; Dean Drummond 1 win 4 sets
Young (Aus) bt Merrilees (NZ) 10-8, 10-6; Robertson (NZ) bt Hanley (Aus) 4-8, 10-6, 2-0; Mahoney (Aus) bt Drummond (NZ) 10-6, 6-7, 2-1. Australia win play-offs and trophy 2-1.