Blackjacks’ pairings Andrew Kelly and Blake Signal and Sarah Scott and Nicole Toomey have progressed through their play-off fixtures and booked their respective semi-final berths at the prestigious Hong Kong International Classic.
Hosted by the Hong Kong Lawn Bowls Association, the event attracts a world class field with combinations put forward by countries such as Malaysia, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Australia, to name only a few.
Following eleven section games, the New Zealand men’s pairing rounded out second place behind section winners Scotland, posting an impressive eight wins and advancing through to their play-off fixture opposite the dynamic Australian duo and reigning champions, Ben Twist and Jessie Noronha.
A scintillating encounter between the Trans-Tasman rivals played out with Australia taking the first set and the Kiwis bouncing back in fine style to claim the second set and force a three-end tie breaker.
The tie-break finish saw Kelly drive the jack in the ditch on two occasions to wrap the fixture up in favour of the Kiwis and take a 4-0 win, advancing through to play the highly fancied Irish duo of Ian McClure and this week’s Men’s Singles runner-up Aaron Tennant in a crowd-pleasing semi-final.
Meanwhile, in the women’s action, both Scott and Toomey have combined well to record nine wins from 11, also finishing second place in their section and earning a play-offs spot opposite top ranked locals Dorothy Yu and Vivian Yip, with the winner progressing through to a semi-final fixture against the star-studded Malaysian pairing of Emma Saroji and Siti Zalina Ahmad.
In yet another thrilling finish, Scott and Toomey edged past Yu and Yip to set up a blockbuster clash opposite the pre-tournament favourites, taking the match 3-2 on a tiebreak.
Other semi-finals will see the Philippines take on Scotland in the men’s pairs, while Australia’s Natasha Scott and Ellen Ryan will go head-to-head with Filipino pairing Rosita Bradborn and Sonia Bruce, who earlier accounted for local hopefuls Tammy Tham and Rita Tsui representing the Kowloon Cricket Club (KCC Bowls).
The semi-finals in both the men’s and women’s field are scheduled to take place at 11pm NZT at the Craigengower Cricket Club, with the Grand Finale set to be live streamed on Youtube on Sunday.