A Memorable Showing for Kiwi Contenders at Australian Open 2018

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Sam Laguzza and Rowan Brassey – Australian Open Over 60s Men’s Pairs title holders 2018
Photo: Bowls Australia

Former New Zealand international Rowan Brassey has teamed up with New South Wales legend Sam Laguzza to take out the coveted Australian Open Over 60s Men’s Pairs title, while the fairy tale run of Wellington teenager Seamus Curtin has come to a laudable end.

Hosted at the acclaimed Broadbeach Bowling Club on the Gold Coast, the world’s richest bowls event concluded for the remaining Kiwis in fine style on Thursday, with Curtin putting up a solid contest against one of the world’s best singles exponents, Ryan Bester, in the men’s semi-final and Brassey winding back the clock to put on a dominant display, more than a decade after international retirement to wrap up a sought-after pairs’ honour.

In what proved to be an evenly matched fixture throughout, both Curtin and Bester traded shots equally with the scores locked at one stage, 14-14 in a race to 21 shots. However, drawing on a wealth of experience, the Canadian international put the pedal down to close the game out 21-15 and book a finals berth in the blue ribband event opposite Queensland representative Sean Baker, who appeared unstoppable in his semi-final showing, punishing Alstonville’s Peter Taylor, 21-5 in a clinical exhibition.

With a growing fan base, Curtin can hold his head high as he reflects on his efforts on the big stage, with just a matter of months separating him marking at the Bowls Premier League at Naenae, to footing it with some of the sport’s household names like Bester and Aron Sherriff, who earlier put paid to Curtin’s four in the semi-final, in what eventuated as a memorable fortnight on the Gold Coast greens for the 17-year-old.

Meanwhile, New Zealand contenders Leanne Poulson, Ling Qu, Dianne Strawbridge were in sensational form in the Women’s Fours final, assisting skipper Marilyn Emerton to the prestigious silverware, concluding their campaign with a comfortable victory over the might of Norfolk Island representative Carmen Anderson and her star-studded side of Sarah Boddington, Brittany Wiley and Anne-Marie Peart, 17-9.

Poulson, Qu and Strawbridge undoubtedly proved the difference in the match-up, consistently outperforming their counterparts in the early stages, though the vast experience of Emerton proved vital as her side weathered a storm, with Anderson and Co clawing back the scores within two shots with four ends to play.

However, consistency won out on the night, with Emerton’s side scoring a four on the penultimate end to force Anderson’s quartet to chase a full count – though to no avail, as Anderson conceded acknowledging the task was a tall order against a four who had proven superior all evening – gifting Emerton and her team the $10,000 winner’s cheque.

The Women’s Fours win rounds out an impressive showing across the ditch for the Kiwi contenders, with many combinations making the trip and qualifying in various disciplines throughout the event. The Australian Open 2018 will surely be remembered for the heroic run of Curtin in arguably one of the toughest fields of play, and a special victory for Poulson, Qu, Strawbridge and Emerton as they revel in their glory as Australian Open Women’s Fours champions.