Early surprises in the mens pairs on day 2 of Summerset Nationals


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Two former winners of the Women’s Pairs have bowed out of the Summerset National Championships, with 2017 champions Dale Rayner and Ashleigh Jeffcoat and 2014 victors Ann Muir and Sue Wightman both losing their crunch final clash on day two.

Held in Auckland, the Women’s Pairs action concluded around the greens with qualifiers requiring a minimum of four wins from six starts to advance through and keep their hopes alive.

Following a mixed start on day one, Rayner and Jeffcoat, who were also in last year’s final, looked to be turning things around as they coasted to the first two wins of the day, requiring their final game opposite Pt Chevalier’s Jo Mckenna.

Though it wasn’t to be as McKenna and lead Jenny Stockford, equally determined to qualify and needing the win, proved too strong for the Rayner composite, closing out an 18-14 victory and ending any hopes of a third successive final for Rayner and Jeffcoat.

Leading teams to comfortably meet the margin to qualify include Blackjack Val Smith and lead Lisa Prideaux, Reen Stratford and Linda Ralph, former New Zealand international Wendy Jensen and lead Anne Doreen and the Henderson pairing of Josie Mitchell and Lenice Baker, all continuing where they left off, rounding out an unblemished record thusfar.

Other combinations to make the cut included the mother and daughter link-up of Kirsten Edwards and Leigh Griffin, former Blackjack representatives Amy McIlroy and Selina Goddard, Clare Hendra and Tayla Bruce, Kensington’s Maree Atwood, Southerners Sarah Scott and Bronwyn Stevens and the composite duo of Natarsha Grimshaw and Gaylene Harvey, who after winning only one round on day one managed to turn the tables and push through with a full house of wins on day two to progress.

Meanwhile, the Men’s Pairs threw open some early round surprises with leading combinations such as world star Shannon McIlroy and Justin Goodwin, New Zealand Development representatives Sheldon-Bagrie Howley and Seamus Curtin and dual world champion Gary Lawson and Jamie Hill all dropping their first round.

Though, it was business as usual in rounds two and three with all the above combinations finding their form and clocking up half of their qualifying quota with three rounds left to play on day three.

Other pairings to watch include the impressive Royal Oak duo of Mike Galloway and Martin Dixon, Commonwealth Games bronze medalists Aidan Zittersteijn and Adoni Wichman-Rairoa, Taranaki’s Dean Elgar, Richard Girvan and lead Chris Le Lievre, Victoria’s Raymond Martin and Richard Corry, Maurice Symes with Tony Grantham, Wellington brothers Logan and Brady Amer, Chris Lowe with Jordan King and Brody Dix with the well-performer Adam Wishnoski – all remaining unbeaten after the opening three fixtures.

In other results, pushing their claim with two wins include the Southland hopefuls Caleb Hope and Craig Tinker, former champions Rob Ashton and Petar Sain, Taylor Horn and Jesse Russell, Richard Hocking of Burnside and Hinuera’s Gerrard Slattery, while former youth representatives Bradley Down and Finbar McGuigan and Bowls3Five winning skipper Aiden Takarua with Alex Reed will require an unbeaten performance on day two if they are to be among the qualifiers come post-section.

Day three’s action will play host to the final three rounds of the men’s pairs, while the women’s singles qualifiers will be found across the city as the Summerset Nationals roll on.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      -Sam Morton