Scotland claimed the first of the lawn bowls medals at the Commonwealth Games in sensational fashion, winning a titanic head-to-head Triples battle against hosts Australia 19-14, at the Broadbeach club.
Bonnyrigg’s Ronnie Duncan and Derek Oliver from East Lothian were making their first Games appearance, ably directed by Darren Burnett, the reigning Singles gold medallist from Glasgow. In taking the title, it gave the Scots their first-ever success in the Triples event.
Played in front of a large local and also travelling support, the Scots silenced the somewhat parochial Aussie entourage with a stunning array of outstanding bowls across the 18 ends.
In their morning semi-final they overcame Norfolk Island trio Phil Jones, Hadyn Evans and Ryan Dixon 20-8 to set up the gold medal match against hosts Barrie Lester, Nathan Rice and Aron Sherriff who beat Canada 20-5.
As expected, the contest was a wildly vociferous affair both on the green and in the capacity filled spectator stands with both teams producing a game of the highest quality in a hotly contested and entertaining battle which ebbed and flowed from the opening end, with the statistics showing that the Scots scored on 11 and the Aussies on seven of the ends.
Australia went ahead 9-8 for the first time in the final with a treble on the 11th end but some truely, unnerving inspirational play by the Scottish trio saw them yield 11 shots over the closing seven ends, while Australia only counted five leaving the Scots to take gold for the first time in this event much to the delight of their fans.
The defining point in the match came on the penultimate end when Burnett ditched the jack to the left-hand rink marker side. Australian skip Aron Sherriff drew the shot to the edge of the ditch which would have seen them take a 15-13 lead. However, Burnett raised the roof with an inch perfect take out which yielded the Scots a treble and a breathing space of two shots playing the last which they then dominated to deal their historic triumph.
Basking in their success, Burnett said: “We had a really gruelling qualifying section where we finished in pole position just one point ahead of Norfolk Island.
“We met Section A winners Wales in the knockout quarter-finals and had to negotiate a late 15-13 win against them, then had to meet our section cohorts Norfolk Island yesterday again in the semi-finals. But we desperately wanted that gold-medal winning opportunity and were more than happy to win 20-8.
“We knew Australia would be the toughest of opponents and would be lifted by their boisterous home support in the final but our supporters more than matched them and egged us on.
“Ronnie laid our foundations from the lead position and was more than ably backed up by “Del Boy” at second .
“We’ve played exceptionally well over the last four days and at times under testing conditions. There’s been a lot of rain since we arrived here which has slowed the pace of the greens a bit and that has favoured us. It has been a fantastic team effort and the two boys at the front certainly can hold their heads up high.”
Scotland will go for further glory today with Paul Foster and Alex Marshall hoping to retain the Pairs title they won in Glasgow and also in Melbourne. Marshall though will be eyeing up the title for a record fourth time, initially winning at Manchester in 2002 with George Sneddon.
The second phase of the bowls also gets underway today and, after their Pairs title decider, Marshall and Foster will join with Duncan and Oliver in a bid to retain the Fours title while Burnett will be out to do the same and retain the Singles crown.
The women’s event reverts to Pairs and Triples with Claire Johnston teaming up with Lesley Doig in the Pairs and Caroline Brown skipping Kay Moran and Stacey McDougall the Triples.