Last-end heartbreak

The Burnett Bowls team that finished second at the Division 1 pennants at the state titles: back, Jerome Vershaka, Beau Mark, Howard Best, Keith Whalley, Jack Stewart, Robbie Swallow, front, Mick Jeffs, John Martin, Kyle Franks, Darren McCracken, Steve Coleman, Geoff Ferguson and Darryl Austin.

By Shane Jones

Burnett Bowls Club almost pulled off one of the best wins ever from a Bundaberg bowls team.

The club almost became state champions, finishing second at the division one men’s pennants, finishing runners-up at the final on the Gold Coast.

The side qualified for the final after becoming the best in Bundaberg before winning zone six to qualify for the state titles as one of eight teams.

Burnett then became one of the top two teams after winning its way through the group phase, beating Roma 66-46 in round one, South Townsville 62-44 in round two and beating South Suburban Mackay 58-50 in round three to top the group and make the final.

Facing Kawana in the decider, Burnett matched its more-fancied rivals, who made the final the year before, going toe-to-toe with them all the way to the end.

Burnett led by two with two ends to go and was in a good position to win as the last two groups played their ends.

In one end, one Kawana skipper played a shot to win the end by three shots, which gave their team a one-shot lead as the other group played its final end.

Burnett led by one in that end, which would have tied the scores and forced sudden death, but the skip for the Kawana team sealed the game as he turned a one-shot deficit into a one-shot lead with his final shot.

“Everyone thought Kawana would beat us quite easily,” Burnett Bowls player Keith Whalley said.

“It came down with two ends to play we were two up.

“The opposition skips had to play two really magnificent bowls to beat us.

“It’s a team effort and we were right in there until the end.”

One of the skips for the Burnett team, Howard Best, said it was a bittersweet feeling.

The team was proud of its achievements but disappointed not to finish the job.

“We all put in to get there and we’re pretty proud of the boys,” Best said.

“We didn’t have expectations to get into the final, you are playing some good teams from Queensland.

“And we exceeded our expectations in the first two days.”

Whalley said it was the first time in the club’s 73-year history that it had achieved such success.

Plans are now in place to go one better next year, but the team will have to go back to the start, beating the best in Bundaberg first.

Burnett won 11 games out of the 12 it played to finish second in the state.

“If we can have couple of recruits join us we’ll be pretty positive about our chances next year,” Whalley said.

Best added: “We’ll have a pretty strong side.”

Whalley said the team thanked its manager Jack Stewart and the Burnett Bowls Club, who assisted the team to get down to the Gold Coast to compete.

The next division one pennants competition starts next year.