Champ and ‘stick’ man win classic

ALTONA’S Ray Morrissey did not let losing his usual partner, Gary Matheson, get in the way of a third consecutive Moe Invitation Classic Pairs lawn bowls title last week, completing the trifecta with Golden Square ‘stick’ bowler Barry Ansett.

Ansett, who uses a prosthetic bowling arm with a claw to compensate for back injuries, teamed up with perennial champion Morrissey to great effect as the duo won all six matches with a positive differential of 66 shots.

The prolific pairing edged out locals Ross Sizeland (Traralgon) and Ron Witton (Morwell Club) the only other team to win every game, by 18 shots.

The Gippslanders won their final fixture against Boolarra’s Phil Smith and Mehran Abbas by 10 shots, but it was not enough to get them over the line, despite going undefeated in their first tournament together.

“(It’s not hard to swallow) when you’ve got guys like ‘Radar’ Morrissey there, he’s a proven champion,” Witton said.

“We’re delighted with six wins and… they deserve it, that’s the ones you’ve got to look up to and try to beat next time,” Sizeland said.

Coming off a strong showing at the Yallourn Classic singles, Sizeland said pairs was a different challenge.

“It’s a very lonely game, singles… (in pairs) you’ve got to gel with your teammate, work out their strengths and weaknesses and they’ve got to (know) yours,” he said.

“It’s a team game… pairs is the way to go.”

Morrissey and Ansett pocketed $1000 each for the win, but the Moe classic has never been about the money for the returning champion.

“This tournament is a terrific tournament; I’ll always come here until I can’t bowl,” Morrissey said.

The pair, who play together for the Victorian over 60s, turned heads throughout the three-day competition with ‘stick’ bowling pioneer Ansett always a drawcard.

“To me he’s one of the best stick men in Australia so I’m lucky to get a champion like him,” Morrissey said.

“You can’t win it by yourself, you’ve got to have two combining, so I’m lucky.”

With 20 years on the ‘stick’, after having an eight inch metal plate and six steel rods inserted into his back, Ansett became the first exponent of the bowling arm at the tournament in his winning debut.

“I was humbled to play with Ray, everyone knows he’s a champion and I was just thrilled that he asked me to play with him,” he said.

Moe’s Ian Caines and Bob Rennie were also undefeated with five wins and a draw to finish in third place, 50 shots to the good.

Twenty-eight teams contested this year’s championships.