The BPL is always an exciting event on the bowls calendar with with it’s exciting, colourful and fast paced format. The 7th installment of the BPL was held in Wellington NZ from the 23rd – 26th April. Eight franchises from across Australia and NZ were set to compete for the prestigious trophy and a slice of the $100,000 prize pool on offer for this exclusive event.

With multiple World and Commonwealth Champions scattered throughout each franchise, the field was one of the strongest to ever take the paddock and our mighty Gold Coast Hawks team would have their work cut out for them in their bid to secure a maiden title.

Our Gold Coast Hawks side comprised of three time BPL champion, and now Hawk, Aron Sherriff, Australian stars Nathan Rice and Lynsey Clarke, and first time coach but BPL veteran Mark Casey. Our very compatible and talented team were keen to make their mark this year and really show the world what the Hawks are made of #yearofthehawk.

The first two days of competition our team enjoyed some mixed results with two wins from four matches on both days, this saw them sit in third place on the ladder. From this point on it was onwards and upwards for the Hawks as they entered day three in sublime form winning all four matches in a great day out.
On the fourth and final day, two more rounds would be played followed by the finals series for the top four clubs. Again our team came out strongly, not dropping a set in the last two round matches and having the extra bonus of finishing sectional play on top of the table. The Brisbane Pirates finished second, Illawarra Gorillas in third, while the Murray Steamers would round out the top four to ensure the highest quality semi finals field.

First up in the elimination final it would be the Gorillas who stood victorious, defeating the Steamers in straight sets 5 – 2, 7-6. Next up was the major semi final between our Hawks and second placed Brisbane. Despite some classy shots from the Worlds best, Alex Marshall, our team dominated the match from the get go to secure the victory in straight sets 9-5, 6-3 and be the first club through to the 2018 Grand Final.

Brisbane would get a second bite at the cherry, a perk of finishing in the top two on the ladder, and take on the Gorillas in the next match, the Preliminary Final. The loss to the Hawks just moments earlier didn’t deter the Pirates, regaining their confidence and spark to defeat the Gorillas 9-7, 5-3. This would ensure a juicy Grand Final to take place, the two best teams of the week to battle it out for ultimate glory.
The Grand Final, as it should be, was an extremely exciting and tight affair with both teams going shot for shot every end. Crucially our awesome foursome took the first set 5-3, despite Marshall playing a brilliant last bowl to try and secure the set for the Pirates.

In the second set it was anyones match, however an epic powerplay end for our team saw us collect a count of six and an end later see us one shot up on the scoreboard with one end left to go! On the cross over we held a solid shot on a ditch to ditch length end. Yet with two of the best bowlers to follow the lady hadn’t sung just yet for the Hawks. Marshall cooly and calmly drew in to the head to secure at least one shot with the second shot a measure – too ‘iffy’ for the likes of Sherriff who with his last bullet decided to take the risk and drive the possible second bowl of the Pirates out of the head. He let rip and once the dust settled, the crowd held their breath, the team bit their nails – it was one to the Pirates and an umpires measure was called! With an inch to spare the Hawks bowl was declared second shot and our magnificent team was crowned BPL07 champions, for the first time, with a 7-7 second set scoreline!

Icing on the cake for our team saw Aron Sherriff crowned MVP for the second successive year!

The Bowls Premier League is one of the biggest and most exciting competitions with it’s lightning fast format and top Australian and New Zealand teams competing. BPL06 is just under two months away and the buzz is already starting to build across the country and within our local bowls community in anticipation of our calendars most colourful and exciting event.

Personally I’m so excited to be part of both another BPL event and our mighty Gold Coast Hawks franchise this year. I can’t wait to hit the greens with my great friends and two of the world’s best bowlers in Mark Casey and Brett Wilkie.

We’ve experienced success alongside each other at International, National, and State level, but are yet to team up together in the fun, fast paced BPL format. We have a unique bond, rivalled by no other franchise, which has been created over nearly 15 years of playing together in the Helensvale, Queensland, and Australian colours.

We know each others game styles really well, where our strengths lie, and what brings the best out in each other. I think we have such a great balance of consistency, flair, power, and presence that we will definitely be a force to be reckoned with this year.

We have such a great supporter base too, a sea of green and gold in the crowd, so that definitely helps when trying to get over the line in those crucially tight matches. It’s such a short sharp style of match play so every little advantage we can utilise will make a big impact when it comes to tasting ultimate success.

The competition is going to be fierce – the best of the best – but I believe 2017 really could be our best chance at obtaining that elusive BPL title.

Nathan Rice will be guiding us in the coach/mentor role, so no doubt we’ll be ready to roll – all guns blazing come opening day of play on the 14th November!

Author: Lynsey Clarke
Gold Coast Hawk,  Australian Team Captain, Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist

The mighty talented Broadbeach Bulls have claimed their maiden National $60,000 5 A Side title today in spectacular fashion defeating the international NZ , star-studded club side from Eastbourne – 3 matches to 1. Broadbeach had been the most consistent and in-form club of the competition, leading the field from Day 2 of play and all the way through the event. But on finals day it all begins again and it was anyone’s title for the taking.

After defeating Mt Lewis in the morning matches of their semi final encounter, Broadbeach were full of confidence riding in to the final. However newcomers to the event, Eastbourne, were also riding their own high after defeating last years runner up, St Johns Park in their semi final clash. As the crowd eagerly anticipated what was scripted to be an almighty classic grand final battle, they weren’t disappointed – witnessing some of the best bowls the Club Helensvale greens have ever seen. It was a blow for blow match up in the first of the disciplines with game points split after Eastbourne took the pairs encounter by 1 shot and Broadbeach winning the triples by 15.

However when it came down to the singles and fours discipline, it was the Ryan Bester show that put the final nail in the coffin for Eastbourne, after hewas clinical in his singles performance defeating David Ferguson 21- 10. The 11 shot singles victory left the overall margin of 25 shots too big of a mountain to climb for the Eagles fours – shaking hands after 10 ends with Broadbeach in front 12-4.

Congratulations to our eleventh and newest champions, Broadbeach, on your maiden title and claiming the $20,000 first prize winners cheque, to Eastbourne for being gallant in Grand Final defeat, and to the talented sides from Mt Lewis and St Johns Park on finishing equal third in one of the toughest and most prestigious events in the country.

(For those interested, our live streamed featured finals matches have been saved and are able to be viewed via our Club Helensvale Facebook page)

Author: Lynsey Clarke
Gold Coast Hawk,  Australian Team Captain, Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist