An ‘‘absolutely gutted’’ Brett Pieper has vowed to do everything to return to the state singles championship finals after a heartbreaking one-shot loss quarter-final to the eventual finalist at East Maitland Bowling Club.
In his second championship finals and first representing Illawarra Zone 16, Pieper beat former Warilla and Australian representative Ian Taylor in the opening round before losing 31-30 to West Dubbo’s Josh Andriske (Zone 4).
Pieper led 30-26 but couldn’t close out the match, with Andriske going on to beat Orange City’s Lee Stinson 31-19 in the semi-finals before losing 31-20 to St Johns Park’s Ben Twist in the final.
‘‘I’m absolutely gutted to go out the way I did,’’ Pieper said.
‘‘It was there for the taking leading 30-26 but I couldn’t get the job done.
‘‘I feel like I blew it but you have to learn from these things and do better the next time.
‘‘I reckon I can compete at this level now and I’m desperate to have another crack.’’
The annual state championships feature the winners from the NSW’s 16 zones in singles, pairs, triples fours, senior (over 60) singles, senior pairs and other disciplines.
Pieper won the Illawarra singles back in July and beat Taylor 31-27 in the final’s round of 16.
‘‘It was the last match off and there was a good crowd watching on and to beat a legend like Ian Taylor, a true gentlemen, was one of my best ever wins,’’ Pieper said.
‘‘John Smith from the state match committee said it was one of the best draw bowls matches he’d seen. It was draw, draw, draw all game.’’
The single and pairs championships were held on East Maitland’s carpet green, while the triples and fours were played on the grass surface.
Pieper would have much preferred to play on grass and was thankful for the advice of former Figtree RSL clubmate Dylan Skinner, who went on to win the Triples championships.
‘‘Dylan said use a wide set of bowls. It’s hard to play on the carpet when you play all year on grass but that’s how it was,’’ he said.
Pieper, who plans to celebrate his 50th birthday at Kembla Grange races on Saturday, will now focus on the singles at Illawarra’s time-honoured tournament the South Pacific carnival in late December.
‘‘It’s a big one, an iconic event and I’m going to have crack at it,’’ he said.