Duo gives guns a fright in Norfolk Island pairs

Neil Hatchman and Rick Brain outside the Norfolk Island clubhouse with Noel and Judy Nowles from Bargara Qld.

IT’S A stretch to call them international sports stars, but lawn bowlers Neil Hatchman and Rick Brain have just returned from applying their craftiness overseas. The pair were the talk of Norfolk Island’s south Pacific pairs tournament last week after rolling the hot favourites.

They won five of their seven games and were the only ones to beat the winners Petal and Phil Jones. They also schooled runners-up Moochie Christian, a descendant of the island’s original white settlers, and Shae Wilson, 18, a national juniors rep.

Thirty teams, including players from Qld and NZ, battled it out for the Kev Wills memorial trophy over the course of a week. They were divided into four sections playing a round robin, with the top two progressing to the quarter finals, semis and final in sudden-death knockouts. Seven teams from Norfolk and the Cunnamulla fellas made it the finals.

Brain, 38, and Hatchman, 63, won their first game by a shot, finished with a margin of 10 in the second and 11 in the third game. They then picked off Moochie Christian, a descendant of Fletcher Christian who led the mutiny on the Bounty in 1789, and Shae Wilson, 18, a junior national rep, also by one shot.

But they were taken down by fellow Qlders from Mackay and Greenbank before causing another upset by beating the Joneses by three points. That meant they missed out on the semis.

“We were the hype after the second day,” Hatchman said. “As it turned out we had to play Petal and Phil Jones, the eventual winners, in our last game. It came down to Rick’s very last bowl, he drew the absoluter. We got two on the last end to beat them by three shots. Petal said they had a magnificent carnival except for Rick and Neil!”

The Joneses played Christian and Wilson in the final and had a margin of five going in to the last end, which Christian and Wilson were unable to reel in.

Rick said the track was 15 seconds, a bit quicker than they were used to, and was full of praise for the islanders’ hospitality. They were already familiar with the Joneses and Christian, regulars at the $35,000 Black Opal tournament in Lightning Ridge.

Hatchman said the islanders were still coming to grips with modern incursions such as random breath tests and having to pay council rates. Just about all the old bomb cars that were a feature of island life had been forced off the road. The speed limit on the open road was 50kmh and 30kmh in town.

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