Peter Keatley (Malua Bay) is the 2022-23 Rookie Singles State Champion, beating Michael Winter (Camden) in a high quality final.
Despite the 17-5 score line, both players were in great touch, drawing magnificently on the undercover Raymond Terrace surface. Keatley was in a ruthless mood, drawing shot after shot and placing incredible pressure on Winter. There were moments of brilliance from Winter, but the Camden Rams representative couldn’t answer all the challenges thrown down by Keatley, who jumped away to an early lead and never let up on the way to victory.
Both finalists went through their sections unbeaten, recording solid wins across their three rounds. Keatley boasted an impressive +28 shot margin from his three matches, while Winter amassed +14 shots from his three victories. Their semi-final clashes were both classics, each going down to the wire.
Winter came up against Dan Scanlan (Engadine), who was in fine form. Scanlan jumped out to an early lead, before Winter closed the gap and eventually took a slender lead 13-12. Both players exchanged shots consistently, Winter often drawing close only to see Scanlan trail the jack or sit out the shot bowl with supreme accuracy. At 15-13 up, Winter was holding another count of two, and Scanlan looked to be on the perfect line yet again to trail the jack away. Unfortunately for the Engadine Cougar, his bowl only clipped the jack, tucking it closer to Winter’s shot bowl. Winter held one with one to play, and delicately drew close enough to secure a 17-13 win and his passage to the final.
Keatley was quick out of the blocks against recently crowned Rookie State Pairs Champion Rick Lucey (Cabra-Vale), leading 12-5 off the back of some clinical draw bowling. Lucey, realising he needed to change the flow of the match, played a slightly more aggressive game, and it paid immediate dividends. Lucey led 13-12, and looked to be running away with the game, but Keatley had other ideas. He stuck firm to his draw game – a clear strength for the Malua Bay representative – and got over the line 17-15, drawing within inches of the jack with what would be his last bowl of the match.
It may have been that confidence boost that pushed Keatley to new heights in the final. Whatever it was, it worked for Keatley and left him almost speechless when accepting his winners’ medal. Winter was gracious in defeat, complimenting his opposition on the incredible bowls he played in the final. Winter should also be proud of his efforts, as he displayed ability and temperament well beyond his few years in the sport as a rookie – a bright future ahead in the sport for the young Camden Ram!
Earlier in the afternoon, the Mick Bell Award was presented to Susie Simmons (Bathurst City). The award is presented to the player that best embodies the spirit and sportsmanship of the Rookies event. We were fortunate enough to have the man himself, Mick Bell, at Raymond Terrace to watch the event, and he was in complete agreement that Susie Simmons was a worthy recipient, presenting the award to her himself.
Congratulations to Peter, Michael, Susie and all the Rookie qualifiers who played over the weekend. The Rookies is a key event on the Bowls NSW calendar, and we look forward to running it again – bigger and better than ever!
Peter Keatley (Malua Bay) Photo Bowls New South Wales