2023 World Bowls Championships: Final Day recap

by Lachlan Williams on September 10, 2023

After more than 1200 games across 12 days of play, the 2023 World Bowls Championships has come to an end with two high quality finals contests.

In her farewell to international lawn bowls, Lynsey Clarke finished with a gold medal in the women’s triples final against New Zealand.

Ireland’s Gary Kelly and Canada’s Ryan Bester played out a thrilling men’s singles final, with Bester taking out a historic crown to end years of near finishes.

Women’s triples – Australia def New Zealand 15-9

It was Australia’s Dawn Hayman, Lynsey Clarke and Kelsey Cottrell that secured a blistering victory over New Zealand’s Leeane Poulson, Tayla Bruce and Val Smith with a 15-9 win in the opening final of the day.

The Jackaroos looked strong at the outset, racing out to a 5-0 lead after three ends thanks to a superb team effort as each player filled their role superbly.

New Zealand would manage to take two of the next three ends to get within four before a hefty collect of three put the Australians in the box seat at 9-2 after seven.

Another multiple to the green and gold had their lead at nine before the half way mark, but the Blackjacks remained undeterred as Smith converted the next three ends to give New Zealand hope.

History looked to be repeating itself in the ensuing 12th end, but Cottrell played a sensational shot to get the Australians back on the board and extend the margin to seven.

However the next two ends went to their Trans Tasman rivals, including their first multiple, trimming the deficit back to four with as many to play.

With Poulson and Bruce lifting and applying the pressure at the front end, it was up to Cottrell to save another and she duly obliged, sitting her opponent’s shot bowl away to push the margin out to five.

Yet another bomb from Cottrell to run the jack into the ditch extended the lead to six with two ends left, leaving New Zealand needing to win the penultimate exchange to push the match to the full allotment.

With Australia holding game on 17, Smith was tasked with saving the game and sending it to the last and did so by trailing the jack into the ditch for one.

Just needing to defend five in the final stanza, the Australian trio secured the shot to win 15-9 and send Clarke out in style, finishing her glorious career with a World Bowls Championship gold medal and her first since 2012.

Clarke and Cottrell earned their third on green gold, while Hayman saluted for the first time in what was a scintillating major event debut.

Gold: Dawn Hayman, Lynsey Clarke & Kelsey Cottrell (Australia)

Silver: Leeane Poulson, Tayla Bruce & Val Smith (New Zealand)

Bronze: Joanna Cooper, Baylee Van Steijn & Emma Boyd (Canada)

Bronze: Sophie McIntyre, Shauna O’Neill & Chloe Wilson (Ireland)

Men’s singles – Ryan Bester (Canada) def Gary Kelly (Ireland) 21-16

After years of near misses, Canada’s Ryan Bester has a world singles gold medal after an enthralling final win over Ireland’s Gary Kelly.

Bester took the early lead showing some fine touch in the opening end before Kelly showed some prowess of his own to make a statement with a triple in the very next end.

The Canadian was on song with his driving over the next few ends, rectifying the third and fifth stanzas with some sensational weighted shots to dazzle at his home club, levelling proceedings at 6-6.

Not a lot separated the pair throughout the middle stages of the contest, with Kelly holding the slight advantage on the scoreboard, but the Canadian kept touch with his Irish opponent.

Kelly held sway throughout the middle stages of the contest, leading by three on several occasions (11-8, 13-10) and was the first to win consecutive ends in the final on the 15th end.

Bester would not fall away however, drawing with his final bowl on the 16th end to move to 13-11 down, and collecting a big two to move level at 13-13.

Kelly displayed the form he has been in throughout the competition however, collecting a three on the 18th end to move clear once again.

It was at that point the Canadian made his run for the finish line. Down two at the head on the 19th end, a textbook Bester drive ripped out the shot bowls to hand him a two of his own to move back within one shot.

The momentum swung massively on the following end as the Canadian collected another two to become the first within an end of victory, and take the lead for the first time since the first end.

A third consecutive double moved Bester within two shots of an emotional maiden world singles crown.

Just as he had done all game, Bester went back to his reliable drive when down a number at the head on end 22, once again getting what he wanted to hold game with Kelly having one bowl left. The Irishman cut one shot out as Bester moved within one shot of victory.

It was a Fantastic final end from Bester, showing off his impeccable draw game which proved too much for Kelly, securing a long-awaited world singles crown.

Bester took out the final five ends of the contest in a run to the finish line he will never forget.

The gold medal is Canada’s second ever at the World Bowls Championships, adding to the 2004 men’s pairs gold that Bester also featured in.

It ends years of heartache for Bester, having finished second in 2012 and 2016 in the world singles.

Gold: Ryan Bester (Canada)

Silver: Gary Kelly (Ireland)

Bronze: Aaron Wilson (Australia)

Bronze: Iain McLean (Scotland)

Sunday’s finals marks the end of the of the 2023 World Bowls Championships, with New Zealand’s women taking overall trophy for best performed women’s team, Australia’s men taking out the overall men’s trophy and Australia also collecting the inaugural para team trophy last week.

View the day 12 results HERE

The 2023 World Bowls Championships is proudly supported by Tourism and Events Queensland and Major Events Gold Coast.