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by Tony Hall, Australian correspondent

At the conclusion of the first two days of five days of Interstate Cup team play, Western Australia and South Australia, 1996 champion, had been the only two of the six teams to be undefeated. South Australia and Victoria went to the Nationals as the two most heavily favored teams. South Australia retained it's title, but Western Australia turned in a strong team performance to wrest the runner-up honors from Victoria.

On the third day of Interstate Cup play, Victoria beat Tasmania 10 matches to 2 at Tempe and Marrickville. Greg Burnes, one of the two "mock Tasmanians", had an unlucky day at Marrickville. In the doubles, George Latham and Trevor Bassett beat Greg Burnes and Tony Hall 26-25 after Trevor ran penult with a soft shot from B baulk, gaining the advantage, and hit two critical long roquets. In his singles against George, Greg had the advantage with scores level after extra turns when time was called, but George had a lift and ran penult from B baulk without touching the sides to win 24-23. Queensland beat Western Australia 6 matches all, 211 points to 196. And South Australia beat New South Wales 8 to 4.

So after the first three days, South Australia alone was undefeated, Western Australia and Victoria had two wins, Queensland and New South Wales one, and Tasmania none.

The fourth day was decisive. SA beat WA 7 to 5, the SA women winning five and Colin Pickering tripling for the second day in a row and for three days out of four. NSW beat Tas 8 matches to 4, the Tas ladies winning all four. Qld beat Vic 7 to 5, the Qld men winning five. Thus with only one more day to play, SA remained undefeated, Tas without a win, and all the others had two wins and two losses. South Australia had already won the Interstate Cup.

On the fifth and last day, playing to remain unbeaten, SA scraped out a 7 to 5 win over Victoria, Harley Watts the only tripler. WA beat Vic 7 to 5 to capture second place.

Sadly, near the finish of his singles game Mark Kobelt suffered a recurrence of his back injury, but carried on courageously to beat Jeff Newcombe 26-18. This injury will preclude him from playing in the Silver Medal event for the second year in succession, and NSW will again be unrepresented.


And the upset of the year occurred when Tasmania defeated Queensland 8 to 4 to win a match for the first time since 1989. There were many close games in this match, but the most dramatic was Aggy Read v Greg Burnes. After a long and exhausting day, time was called as Greg was finishing a long break with two clips on the peg. Aggy had one clip on the peg and the other on 4-back. Greg planned to peg out one of his balls to be two ahead of Aggy so that Aggy could not win by playing his forward ball.

Greg carefully put Aggy`s backward ball near A baulk, left his peg ball on the East boundary and played a shot intended to put his partner ball near the West boundary and leave the striker`s ball close to the peg. To the horror of spectators and Greg, his partner ball continued to roll and crossed the boundary. Aggy merely had to lift his peg ball to A baulk, hit a short roquet and peg out to be level. He would be able to put his other ball close to it`s hoop, 4-back, so he could win in the continuation. Once again, to the horror of the spectators, Aggy lifted his backward ball and missed the 16 yard lift shot to leave Greg the astonished winner.

But, luckily, this game was not the decider. Claire Bamford, Tasmania`s captain, had the tenacity and energy to beat Betty Belz 26-15 after time had been called.

The final results of the Interstate Cup were:
Games Points For Net Points Matches Position
SA 38 1168 +259 5 1
WA 36 1095 +149 3 2
Vic 34 1098 -44 2 3
Qld 28 1108 +82 2 4
NSW 26 1026 -64 2 5
Tas 18 866 -382 1 6

The tournament dinner was held in the CPA Headquarters on the evening of the final matches. Leanne Evans, Deputy Director-General of the NSW Department of Sport and Recreation attended, represented her Minister before the dinner gathering of 128 players and friends of croquet.

After speeches and prize giving were completed, the Australian Women`s team for the Trans-Tasman Womens Tournament (18 to 25 May 1997, at Noosa in Queensland) was announced: Shirley Carr (SA), Creina Dawson (SA), Rosemary Graham (NSW), Lara Ketelaars (Vic), Wendy King (SA), and the captain, Helene Thurston (WA). The non-travelling reserve is Chris Prater (NSW) and the Coach/Manager is Jane Lewis (SA) (National Director of Coaching).

Minor prize winners were Merryl Garrod for the A. B. Morrison trophy for the player with handicap 7 to 10 (international equivalent 1 to 4 approximately) who does best in the Open, Mens and Womens; and Simon Watkins and Ian Bassett for the Egyptian 14-point competitions (the plate events for non-qualifiers in singles).


Saturday and Sunday, March 22/23, are devoted to the English Silver Medal, the final playing event of the 16-day Australian National Championships. This is a round-robin block of singles games without time limit among the winners of the state English Gold Medal competitions. The English Gold Medal is an invitational contested by the top ten players in each state. The states winners competing at the Nationals in 1997 are: Helene Thurston (WA), Harley Watts (SA), Brett Hewitt (Qld), John Davis (Tas) and Alan Cleland (Vic). Mark Kobelt's back injury as has caused him to withdraw, so New South Wales will not be represented, and there will be just ten matches in the two days.

Watch this space for Tony Hall's final report on the 1997 Australian National Championships.

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