Regional lawn bowlers ready to let the good times roll at AFGRI Men’s Country Week in Perth

Ryan Havercroft Countryman
Merredin's Matthew France.
Camera IconMerredin's Matthew France. Credit: Bowls WA/Bowls WA

Nearly 1000 male lawn bowlers from across the State converged on Perth this week for the 2023 AFGRI Men’s Country Week.

The eight-day marathon will be held across 19 metropolitan clubs, kicking off on March 3 culminating with finals for all three disciplines on Friday March 10 at Sorrento Bowling Club.

The singles field has attracted over 450 entrants, with sectional play and two knockout rounds held on the opening day.

Merredin’s Matthew France will be looking for a hat-trick of titles, having won the Men’s Singles in 2021 and 2022.

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He begins his title defence at Sorrento in section 115.

France’s opponent in last year’s final, Peter Cole from Pinjarra starts at Doubleview having drawn section 61.

The 2020 champion, Matthew Mitchell from Emu Point, begins his campaign in section 74 at Osborne Park, but will face tough opposition from Pinjarra’s Brian Chalwell who last week made it to the semi finals of the State Over 60’s Men’s Singles.

Section 81 at the same venue looks to be an eye-catching group with Merredin’s Ashley Sharp, Quairading’s Colin Hayes and former Osborne Park player but now Mandurah-based Erron Martin in action.

Wagin’s sole representative, recent Men’s State Pairs winning skipper and 2018 State Men’s Singles champion Warren Holt has drawn section 90 at Manning.

On Saturday, attention shifts to the pairs with over 400 teams contesting sectional play in groups of four.

Defending champions, Shane Guidice-Nairn and Michael Ford from Geraldton get underway at Bassendean in section 7.

Last year’s runners-up, the Eaton pairing of Tim Stevens and Greg Slavin will be hoping to go one better in 2023 when contesting section 48 at Sorrento.

The well-credentialed Emu Point duo of Jon Sharp and Matthew Mitchell won this discipline in 2020 and will begin in section 19 at Gosnells.

Also starting at Gosnells are the Gingin pairing of Stephen Fewster and Stephen Beckwith who would meet Sharp and Mitchell in post-sectional play should they both progress.

Another set of previous winners, 2017 champions Kevin Heberle and Victor Wellstead from Gnowangerup see action in section 91 at Yokine.

The Men’s Fours sees teams drawn across 38 sections of six with sectional play starting on Sunday and finishing Monday afternoon prior to one knockout round.

Last year’s winning combination remains intact, with Stephen Tuffley, Doug Wright, Jon Sharp and Matthew Mitchell from Emu Point kicking off their title defence at Mt Lawley in section 36.

Bruce Manning, Michael Rodan and Phil Manning from Moora won the event in 2018 and with Paul Walsh added to the side, will be hoping to replicate that success when commencing in section 4 at Manning.

The well-performed Jurien quartet of Ian James, Gary Helliwell, Brian Chambers and Alan Carlton get underway at Gosnells in section 14.

Mark Szczecinski, Clifton Crombie and Stephen Sloan from Corrigin tasted victory in this discipline in 2011 and 2015, and begin their 2023 campaign at Bassendean with club mate Dave Dutton.

From Tuesday the knockout rounds continue across all three disciplines with the fields diminishing prior to finals day next Friday.

All three Men’s Country Week finals will be streamed live on March 10 from Sorrento Bowling Club on the Streamer community sport platform at streamer.com.au.

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