Star Blackjack and world number one Jo Edwards has once again come up with the goods for New Zealand, this time adding a sixth World Cup Indoor Singles trophy to her cabinet following a commanding victory opposite defending champion Lucy Beere in Wednesday’s final.
Hosted at the Warilla Bowls and Recreation Club in New South Wales, the carpeted rinks have been home to more than 25 nations and 44 competitors , with the last week and a half seeing players push through a gruelling section play schedule in a bid to make the top three of their section and keep their title hopes alive heading into the knockout action.
Edwards, who has now equalled former Irish international and Warilla pride Jeremy Henry with six indoor titles a piece, was in devastating form throughout the semi-final and final, constantly pulling out the big shots, exhibiting a draw bowls masterclass and converting when required.
Her final opponent, Guernsey representative Beere, who was gunning for a back to back victory, provided a stern challenge, but seemingly had no answers for the evergreen Edwards, who has likely hired a local building firm to renovate the trophy room at her Brisbane residence – such is her bulging resume of successes in recent years.
That said, however, you couldn’t blame Beere for ruing what might have been, with Edwards’ final drive bowl of set two appearing to miss on the narrow side, before sliding off a front bowl and careering through the jack to leave Beere, who at the time was holding three shots, with nothing short of a miracle to force a tie-break finish with her final bowl.
Alas, it wasn’t to be and the Kiwi punched the air in delight as she claimed a staggering sixth title on the carpet in front of a maximum crowd, adding to her recent Commonwealth Games Gold singles triumph on the Gold Coast in 2018.
In other results, the men’s action saw Northern Irishman Gary Kelly stamp his dominance on the field from day one, remaining unbeaten in 13 fixtures to romp to the title and collect the prestigious silverware opposite Malta’s charge, Brendan Aquilina in a straight sets final victory, 11-4, 9-3.
In fact, such was Kelly’s form, the 29-year-old World Bowls’ Silver Medallist who has recently shifted to Australia, tidied up 10 of his 11 section play games in straight sets, with his only tie-break match-up going in his favour opposite rising Jackaroo and now fellow Warilla clubmate Aaron Teys.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s teenage prodigy Seamus Curtin, who also now resides in Australia, made his World Cup debut – putting on a fine run of form to finish second in his section and earn a preliminary final’s spot up against Henry.
A courageous effort saw Curtin hold pace with arguably one of the greatest carpet exponents the game has produced, though Henry’s experience and appetite for an unprecedented seventh title proving too strong for Curtin to overcome, with the New Zealander’s fairytale run ended by the narrowest of margins, 6-6, 8-7.
Beaten semi-finalists were Malaysia’s Siti Zalina Ahmad and Australia’s Rebecca Van Asch in the women’s field, while Kelly dispatched Scotland’s John Fleming and Aquilina put a halt on any seventh celebrations for Henry, beating his fellow Warilla charge in straight sets in the men’ field.
The 2020 World Cup Indoor Singles will return next season, with the host venue yet to be confirmed.