CAMPASPE Valley Bowls Division State Champion of Champions event was played in extreme weather conditions at Rich River on Saturday and Sunday.
High temperatures and hot winds on a fast green tested all players’ skills on Saturday.
In the first round, spectators witnessed a high class game between Matt Liverton of Moama and Dave Keenan of Rochester, before Matt finally won 26-22 in 33 ends.
A second round highlight was the game between Ian Hunter of Mathoura and Steve Hammond of Tongala. Steve won 25-22 over 29 ends in very hot and windy conditions.
Sunday again produced some very hot conditions for the semi-finals with Matt Liverton defeating Tim Noar from Rich River.
Then Steve Hammond and Philip Thorn played a thriller over three-and-a-half hours and 34 ends in trying conditions.
Steve held game until Philip with his last bowl took the game 25-24.
Philip, after his marathon, played Matt in the final, the latter having had a wait of almost two hours from his win.
Philip led 8-4 after seven ends, then 13-5 after 10 and 19-8 after 16.
Matt never found his usual game before Philip from City of Echuca went on to win another Champion of Champions.
Thorn, now a four-time winner of the event, said conditions had been tough for all players.
‘‘It was very, very hot; we did start early but it was still pretty hot,’’ he said.
‘‘Saturday was not as bad because there was a bit of breeze, but Sunday I found it very hot. It was very still with no breeze, but by the afternoon there was a bit of cloud cover.’’
It was in Sunday’s brutal conditions Thorn and Hammond played the epic, near four hour semi-final.
‘‘It was an incredible game either player could have won, it just happened I had the last bowl and was able to get the shot,’’ Thorn said.
‘‘I went down and had a look and decided to bowl my backhand, because it’s more reliable under pressure. Apparently the spectators thought I’d chosen wrong, but luckily I was able to get the shots and go from one down to two up, which was what I needed. It was a bit lucky, but sometimes things just go your way.
‘‘I played my best of the weekend in the final, I was pretty steady all game and the greens were running beautifully.’’
Thorn heads through to the regional round where he will face the Bendigo region’s champion. The winner of that contest will compete in April’s State Championship.