Day one of the National Club Championship Fours has concluded on the Browns Bay greens, with the Southerners clearly setting the early pace in both the men’s and women’s field.
Hosted by the North Harbour province, the final discipline of the National Club Championships got underway in perfect conditions on Thursday, with the top performing quartets taking to the greens in a bid for national accolades.
Southland contenders Craig Merrilees, Bryan Harvey, Aaron Tribe and Brent Thomson, of the Waikiwi club, came thundering out of the blocks to tally up an unbeaten streak after three rounds, seemingly untroubled by their opposition throughout the day.
Merrilees, a New Zealand PBA representative, started the campaign off in fine style accounting for Hawkes Bay champions Paul Sorensen, Bob Strahl, Fred Ellison and Martin Wyeth, 16-5, before continuing their impressive form opposite Thames’ hopefuls Kevin Gainfort, Sandy Foy, Simon Stephens and Steve Jones, 22-11 and chalking up a third round victory against Methven’s strong side of Craig Carter, Rob Fensom, Brent Mayson and Bruce Redmond, 21-10.
Other results saw New Zealand Development representative Seamus Curtin and his Stokes Valley side fall to the hands of Gainfort in the opening round, and local favourites Tony Grantham and Co in round three, 19-11. Curtin, sixteen-year-old James Cameron-Powell, Jason Puddick and Bill Brunenberg regathered form in the second round to serve Carter an 18-17 loss, following Carter’s first round scalp opposite Grantham, 20-11.
Bounce-back wins for Grantham and his side of Adam Haywood, Scott Mouton and Lindsay Gilmore in rounds two and three sees the Browns Bay side keep pace with the Southlanders, with a mouth watering clash between the two sides poised for the opening round of day two, shaping up to be a crucial game in the grand scheme of things.
A win to Merrilees will all but secure the silverware for the Waikiwi unit, though with Gainfort also sitting on two wins, an opening round victory for them will force the competition into the last round.
However, a loss to Merrilees will throw the tournament wide open with two potential tournament deciders set-up for the final round, as Merrilees will go head-to-head with Curtin and Grantham will line up opposite Gainfort.
Meanwhile, the women’s action has seen the highly compatible Queenstown four of Margaret O’Connor, Christine Buchanan, Debra Lloyd and Jane Anderson race out to a three-win streak, with pre-tournament favourites Gaylene Harvey, Natarsha Grimshaw, Leanne Poulson and Marilyn Bristowe, of Papakura, lurking dangerously one game behind in the standings.
With other results proving a somewhat split share of points, a win to O’Connor opposite Northland’s Anne Batemen in round four and a loss to Harvey will cement the title the way of Queenstown - though with O’Connor’s side already having beaten Harvey’s quartet, the Queenstowners remain firmly in the box seat as overnight leaders, with Harvey set to take on Nelson’s Mary Orbell and Bateman in two must-win fixtures.
Two further rounds are scheduled for play today from 8.30am.