Lawn Bowls athletes are a picture of calm and composure, but the competition has been one of the most hotly contested and excitingly unpredictable events at the Games. Being the busiest of all the sports on the programme, Lawn Bowls has been in competition from Day 1 of the Games and Team PNG has been on the greens in fierce competition with the other 23 countries in each of the events.
Competing over a series of ends in the singles, pairs, triples and fours events, the Lawn Bowlers have been pushing for accuracy and controlling their nerve as they aim to be closest to the jack.
After some disappointing results in the first days of competition in the men’s pairs, men’s triples, women fours, women’s singles, Team PNG has become familiar with the run of the green and recent results have improved.
Men’s singles player Matu Bazu has won three of his five matches to date. After playing with Gabriel Tika in the doubles pairing earlier in the competition, Bazu has hit a fine patch of form. In his first singles match against his more fancied Northern Ireland opponent the Lae based Bazu went down 21 to 4, however Bazu was quick to recover and defeated his next opponent from Isle of Mann Kenneth McGreal, 21 to 16.
He then went up against one of the favorites for the Gold, Canadian Ryan Bester and put up a brave fight to go down 21 to 13. The full program for Bazu continued with a match against Botswana, which he won in a close contest 21-18. He then backed up that performance with another victory over Jersey bowler Malcolm de Sousa on Wednesday morning with the score finishing 21 to 16. Despite winning three of his five pool matches, Bazu did not progress to the next round as the two favorites from the pool Gary Kelly of Northern Ireland and Ryan Bester of Canada.
On the women’s side, the fours made up of Piwen Karkar, Ju Carlo, Loa Babona and Rebecca Walo had a win in their pool group against fellow Pacific Islanders Cook Islands and drew against Namibia 12 all. The Cook Islands were also on the wrong end of a 21 to 7 scoreline in the women’s singles where Catherine Wimp representing Team PNG beat Nooroa Mataio. Wimp had been posting competitive scoreline against her earlier opponents, narrowly going down to Norfolk Island, Kenya and Canada Wimp also defeated an African opponent from Botswana 21 to 9.
Wimp then paired up with Rebecca Walo in the pairs to defeat Niue 21 to 8. Earlier in the pairs competition Walo and Wimp had given their much fancied English opponents a scare when they lost by only two points with the English pair securing the win on the last end. Wimp and Walo also went close to defeating the Zambian pair when they went down 18 to 13.
The Men’s fours have been playing valiantly with Manu Walo, Gabriel Tika, Fred Koesan and Polin Pomaleu going down to New Zealand as well as Wales by 3 points and drawing with Cook Islands 14 all. Walo, Koesan and Pomaleu also teamed up in the triples with their first match against South Africa going down to the wire before the South Africans squeaked a 1 point win. The PNG team found their matches against Wales more difficult, going down 27 to 10 and England 24 to 6. They found some form again against an Indian team that ended up beaten PNG 16 to 11.
The Women’s triples of Ju Carlo, Piwen Kakar and Loa Babona brought that winning feeling back for PNG when they defeated a Canadian team featuring a young player originally from Salamua in PNG who had been adopted by Canadian missionaries when she was young. The wantok connection was put to the side momentarily as PNG beat Canada 14 to 11. The women’s triples then backed that victory up with another win over their Melanesian sisters from Fiji in a tightly fought contest with PNG victorious by one point 17 to 16.
Coach for the Lawn Bowls Kamu Walo was positive with the performances while noting the need for greater concentration and more focused attitude at key points in matches to turn some of the losses into wins. Walk said “I’m quite impressed with some of the first time Games athletes in the team, if it was not for a few lapses in concentration the teams would have caused a few more surprises at these Games.” Wamo singled out Matu and the Women’s triples as the outstanding performances for Team PNG.
The bowls competition will continue with the finals to be played on Thursday.