Gisborne has survived a tough test to defeat Lancefield by 12 shots and clinch the first ever Central Highlands division one premiership for the club.
Grand final day was held in ideal conditions at Kyneton Golf on Saturday and ended up being a joyous occasion for Gisborne players and supporters, and the 2016-17 Saturday pennant winners also had the distinction of being undefeated all season.
The flag favourites survived the weight of expectation on their shoulders and after trailing for most of the first half, managed to lead 47-45 at the break. Lancefield fought the match right out, but to no avail.
The grand final was almost a replay of the second semi-final which Gisborne won by five shots at Trentham. The Tigers bounced back with a fine 31-shot victory over Kyneton Golf in the preliminary final.
There was almost a carnival-like atmosphere with tents around the green, and spectators became increasingly vocal as the afternoon wore on. Gisborne is probably still in celebratory mode!
Both sides lined up before the match and 90-year-old Macedon bowler Syd Billinghurst had the honour of tossing the coin to decide which team had the mat.
Early indications were good for Lancefield, with three rinks ahead, but Gisborne's veteran skipper Graham Quaife in superlative form against Mark Godbolt hardly made a mistake. The score became a blow-out on this rink.
Jeff Holmes led former Woodend premiership hero Matthew Bacon 9-0 after five ends, and Peter Linehan was in great form against the undefeated Glenn Johnston Jnr lineup.
The fast green tested the concentration powers and skills of players and good bowls drew plenty of applause.
Multiple numbers just before the break enabled Gisborne to hit the front 47-45, and both teams had plenty to think about over afternoon tea.
On resumption, Gisborne seized the initiative, as Quaife's four continued to surge ahead, and Bacon played some crucial bowls as did his third Craig Evans; Bev Holmes was in top form for the Tigers. 'Junior' also produced several big bowls at the right time.
It was a prolonged battle for supremacy, and eventually Lancefield was in a position where a recovery like the one its division three had staged a week earlier to snatch victory from Macedon was required. It was too much to ask for as the chants of "Gissy" grew louder.
Eventually, the historic flag win was wrapped up 100-88. Quaife's rink was pegged back to an 11-shot margin in the latter stages, Bacon won by six, 'Junior' and 'PJ' had a fitting draw, and Michael Linehan was the lone winner for the Tigers.
The best side prevailed on the day and one wonders whether this premiership breakthrough, after being runners-up last season, signals the start of a bowling dynasty in Central Highlands.
After several minutes of celebrations, the official presentation took place, with CHBD chairperson Dorothy Evans handing over the shield and extending congratulations all round, with Kyneton Golf commended on staging a great day.
Gisborne president John Evans (Dorothy's husband) expressed delight at the outcome, and in particular praised 'Junior' for his role in putting the side together; the latter said players had pledged to secure a first division flag following the untimely deaths of stalwarts Steve Wallis and Bob Wilson.
Attracting a number of experienced bowlers has given Gisborne far greater depth, and lifted the load from the shoulders of long-time crusaders such as Quaife and Tim Rogers. Having two greens is a bonanza for an expanding club welcoming new players.
John Evans indicated the club would be out to make it two in a row. Can other clubs lift their game to mount a serious challenge next season?
Gisborne 100 d Lancefield 88.
M Neicho, K Smith, T Rogers, G Johnson Jnr (s) 22 tied with G Choate, G Bilson, B Shannon, P Linehan (s) 22.
S Murphy, G Johnson Snr, C Evans, M Bacon (s) 25 d B West, G Dickenson, B Holmes, J Holmes (s) 19.
K Jarred, P Clements, S Boslem, D Fletcher (s) 22 lost to C Jolly, J Parks, A Young, M Linehan (s) 27.
J Evans, P O'Farrell, J Bell, G Quaife (s) 28 d D Safstrom, L Dickenson, B Godbolt, M Godbolt (s) 17.