When it comes to handling the pressure shots, Sarndra Cleland credits the Bowls3Five format for helping to change her game at match-deciding moments.
Last month, Cleland, skip of the successful Timaru Town and Country (TTCC) trio, combined with clubmates Tony Marshall and Shona Anderson to conquer the Canterbury regional Bowls3Five playoffs – with a final end clutch bowl sending the side to the National Finals Weekend come June.
In a thrilling match-up, TTCC put a stop to Canterbury hopefuls Redcliffs Mt Pleasant, defeating Nicky Reed, Greg Reed and Canterbury Intercentre representative Ricky Cook in straight sets.
Hosted at the West End Bowling Club in Timaru, Cleland and her side took first spoils, claiming the first set 5-1. However, the second set was seemingly heading the way of Reed, with the visiting team leading 6-1 playing the final end and for all money, pushing for a tie-breaker finish.
Though, with a PowerPlay at their disposal, the Cleland trio clearly weren’t prepared to follow the script – instead unleashing mayhem to collect three shots and double their pick-up to six, edging the second set 7-6 and concluding a twist for the memory banks.
“It was so unexpected,” Cleland beamed.
“I’ve only really been playing those up-shots for the last couple of years, so I’m just getting used to how and when to play them. In this situation, I thought ‘come on Sarndra, come on, I have to play this’, and I did. It was a great feeling to sit their closest bowl out and put the pressure back on them.
“(In fact), I didn’t have to play my last bowl, so we were rapt. It was really exciting for us and we can’t wait to put Timaru on the map. Whatever happens from here, one thing is for certain, we’ll be representing our province and clubs with pride.”
The Timaru-based side will now be looking forward to mixing it with the country’s best, and among nine other sides, hoping to play their way into the Grand Final and secure their spot in the Bowls3Five televised format to be played later this year.
The National Finals Weekend will be held at the Naenae Bowling Club on June 12 & 13.