Sunday 10th February

GB were down, but not yet out. The Palma Match is held over 2 days, and after day 1 Great Britain were behind by 34 points in 3rd place to Australia in 1st and USA 2nd. The second day gave GB the chance to try and claw this back for the win. Early forecasts had predicted strong winds for today, but we were greeted with flags stuck to the poles in an unusually calm morning. GB were determined to get off to a better start, which we did, shooting quickly to finish a few seconds after the USA in 25 minutes or so, and only dropping 2 points out of 1200.

Unfortunately, as has been the story of this tour, anything we can do the Aussies can do better, and they finished that range with an impressive 1200/1200. 900x started to show greater changeability of wind, and while GB continued to improve, the Australians once again proved that their preparation over the past few years at this range was worth it, extending their lead by a further 15 points. It was starting to become a battle for 2nd place, with GB gaining 4 points on the US to be only 6 points back in 3rd. The improvement in match position showed the benefit of all GB’s distraction training, as 900x and 1000x were shot against the backdrop of some rather loud music from a family day at neighbouring Trentham Camp.

However, as we have seen so often on this tour, at 1000x in the afternoon there is only one winner – Seddon Range. The winds picked up over the right shoulder and we saw “consistent” wind (ha ha) stronger than anything we had seen before in the tour – approaching double figures of minutes at times. Missed wind calls could now mean outers, not just inners. GB has historically been very strong here, so as a team we were determined to go out on a high. In very difficult conditions, employing much of our team training (including ping-ponging – effective but frustrating for the firers) to try and stay on top, GB put in an excellent performance to take 21 points out of the US and claim a clear second place. However, Australia took 26 more points out of us though to win their fifth range of the match and win the Palma Match for the first time since 1988.

When the dust had settled, there was a little bit of time for reflection. GB had started slowly but the Australian dominance of this range started right at the beginning of the tour and it was always going to be an uphill struggle to overcome them. On an individual front, Toby Raincock for the second Palma in succession was top GB shot (coached by Matt Ensor) by a single vee-bull from Tom Drysdale (Matt Charlton) and three from Jon Underwood (Bruce Winney). Mitch Bailey of Australia came very close to setting a new record, having shot five 75s in a row before the final 1000x (he finished with a 67, which goes to show that no matter how brilliantly you shoot the wind here is difficult! Have I mentioned this before?). Having said that Brandon Green of the US finished day 2 with 225/225 – a truly epic shoot that had started with a 75.14.

After prize giving our Captain extended his sincere congratulations to a very happy captain of Australia, Darren Enslin, and after a quick BBQ on the range, the team dispersed to pack and get ready for the flight tomorrow morning, then to relax (as did the Australians at the range, trying to sing We Are The Champions) and reflect on a good performance against extremely strong opposition. The process of trying to match or beat Australia in 2023 should ideally start without delay…and South Africa, of course, who David Dodds reminded us haven’t lost a Palma in Bloemfontein.

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