BPL19: Final day recap

by Lachlan Williams on February 24, 2024

The Melbourne Pulse are champions of the Bowls Premier League for a third time, after the final day of #BPL19 proved to be one of the most memorable in BPL history.

Gary Kelly, Barrie Lester and Ellen Fife were formidable all week, adding to title wins from BPL15 & BPL16.

It was a finals night to remember, with the Dandenong Club-owned franchise almost looking down and out in the final against the Moreton Bay Pirates, but held their nerve.

The final started perfectly for the Alex Marshall led Pirates, with a third end powerplay of three shots, doubling to six, giving them a buffer the Pulse would not be able to reel in, winning the first set 10-1.

A first Pirates win in more than 10 events loomed as they flew away early in the second set, leading 4-0 after two ends. Marshall looked in imperious form to edge his side close to the finish line.

It was here where the Pulse made their move, picking up four shots thanks to a powerplay to level the scoreboard.

BPL19 MVP Gary Kelly then produced some magic on the fourth end of the second set, trailing the jack into the ditch with his bowl sitting as a resting toucher to take the lead.

The jack would again end up in the ditch on the fifth end, with Ellen Fife collecting it but not able to keep her bowl with it. After Kelly drew two close bowls to the ditch, Marshall was unable to impact things to win the game, sending things to a tiebreak.

Dawn Hayman attempted to sink the jack with the first bowl of the deciding end, missing by the barest of margins.

It was Kelly once again who stole the show, drawing shot within a foot which would be enough for the Pulse to claim a third BPL crown.

The Pulse were able to win for a second time without coach Jeremy Henry, having to return home for personal reasons on Thursday, with Dandenong Club CEO Andrew Breeden-Walton stepping in. Henry also missed finals night at BPL15, when Scott De Jongh stepped in to coach.

Journey to the final

The Pulse also had a come from behind win to make their way into the decider, knocking off the Sydney Lions in a history making match.

Losing the first set 10-4, the Pulse trailed the second set 12-7 before a huge eight on a powerplay to win 15-12, the highest scoring set in BPL history.

The Pulse held on in the tiebreak to advance to the decider, winning the highest scoring BPL game of all time.

Earlier in the night, the Adelaide Pioneers held off a gallant Tasmania Tridents unit in a tiebreak in the first elimination final, before running into a red-hot Marshall and Pirates in the second knockout game, going down in straight sets.

The Pirates carried that form into the preliminary final, also taking care of the Lions in straight sets.

In the build up to finals, two rounds of regular play remained as Friday began, with eight teams still in the mix to play finals. All eight remained in the hunt as the final round began, with the ladder changing as play unfolded.

It was heartbreak for the Perth Suns, Moama Steamers and reigning champions Tweed Heads Ospreys who all lost their final round, opening the door for Adelaide Pioneers and Tasmania Tridents into the top five to play finals.

READ MORE: Kelly claims maiden MVP honour

  • View the BPL19 results HERE