Cape Town - It was a silver medal that still felt like a gold as South
Africa’s women’s fours bowls team pushed world champions Australia all
the way in their Commonwealth Games final, going down 18-16.
According to the Team SA website, for Esme Kruger, Nicolene Neal, Johanna Snyman and Elma
Davis, this represented the biggest moment of their careers. And, as the
youngest of the quartet, 30-year-old Snyman, said, ‘We showed a lot of
fighting spirit to get back. This is definitely my best achievement. If
you had asked us before the tournament started whether we would have
accepted a silver medal if we were given one, then I’d say yes.’
Davis, the team’s experienced skipper, who picked up a
bronze medal in the women’s triples at the 2016 World Championships, was
quick to chip in.
‘We came here to win!’ she laughed.
‘We thought we
could get a medal, those were our expectations. But you can never be
sure, because the sections are so strong. But, we lived up to our
expectations and won the silver.’
That they certainly did and it wasn’t up until the
penultimate end of the match that the crowd at the Broadbeach rink,
baking under sunny skies, was able to break out into the familiar war cry
of ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!’ There was a major swing on
that end when the hosts picked up three shots to go from 15-12 up to
18-12 with one end to go.
‘At this level, you can’t afford to drop three shots right
at the end. It’s not easy to get a six,’ said Davis, who admitted that
it was the first and only time in the match that South Africa suspected
they might have to settle for silver. As it was, they came right back
and drew four shots on the final end, to make it 18-16.
It was an absorbing encounter that see-sawed, first with
South Africa jumping out to a 3-0 lead after two ends before Australia
picked up four shots at the third and after another three at the fifth,
they suddenly had a 9-3 lead after six ends. ‘We tried to play the
length that we are used to but Australia also managed to find that
length,’ Snyman, who played third, said. ‘But, at 9-3 down we refused to
give up and kept believing we could win.’
What happened next quietened the home crowd. South Africa
picked up seven shots over the next three ends to nudge ahead 10-9 after
nine ends and with six to play, it was game on. Australia surged back
to again take control at 14-10 after 11, before that lead was cut to
14-12 after 12 ends. It was then the 14th end that all but sealed the
destiny of the medals.
Advance Australia Fair blared out over the sound system
afterwards, but there were no tears or distraught faces from the South
Africans. Indeed, they were all smiles, clutching their silver medals
tightly and you get the impression they won’t let those shiny gongs out
of their sight for quite some time.