Double world champion Gary Lawson has firmly cemented his status as an icon of New Zealand
bowls, teaming with Blackjacks Ali Forsyth, Shannon McIlroy and Eastbourne’s Justin Goodwin to
claim an unprecedented 13th national title in taking out the Men’s National Fours crown in Dunedin.
Following on from their successes on day 11, both Forsyth and Lawson were in commanding form throughout the men’s fours finale, ably assisted by World Singles champion McIlroy and Goodwin, both superbly laying the foundation from the front and comfortably setting the tone.
Earlier this week, McIlroy heaped praise on the dubbed “young brigade” emerging through the ranks at this year’s tournament - and it was the youthful side of Sheldon Bagrie-Howley, Taylor Horn, Seamus Curtin and Jesse Russell that stood waiting for him in the grand final.
A strong start saw Bagrie-Howley’s men get away to a roaring 8-1 lead, but it was never going to be
enough to dampen the belief of Forsyth and his men, who between them boast more than 500
international caps, - experience they clearly drew on as they reverted to a masterclass consistency
of draw bowls to eventually take the lead on the 11th end, proving relentless in applying pressure.
The “young guns” tried in earnest to get back in front, something they managed to achieve on the
12th end picking up a three, though with Forsyth’s men clearly proving up for the fight,
Bagrie-Howley and crew couldn’t stop the Forsyth four from scoring nine unanswered points on the
final few ends to put the scores beyond doubt and gift McIlroy, Lawson and Forsyth their second title
in as many days, while Goodwin enjoyed adding his third national title to the resume.
Meanwhile, former Blackjack Angela Boyd was in a state of shock after bagging the coveted Gold Star awarded for five national titles following their extra end thriller against the strong quartet of Sandra Keith, Serena Matthews, Amy McIlroy and Selina Goddard in today’s women’s fours final.
In a game that saw both teams stay in check with one another, the scores always proved close and in many ways it was fitting for the crowd to see the match-up head in to a decisive extra end with the scores locked at 15-15 after the mandatory 18 ends.
Facing game down, Keith’s two run shots narrowly missed the target and left Boyd, her sister Mandy, long time friend Leigh Griffin and Canterbury representative Sheryl McLean reaching out for team hugs and high fives all round marking McLean’s first national title, Mandy’s sixth and Griffin’s third.
The day culminated in a brief prize-giving ceremony with both McIlroy and Edwards crowned the
Most Consistent Male and Female respectively, acknowledging McIlroy’s two titles and a third equal
performance in the men’s pairs, while Edwards rounded out a strong tournament wrapping up the
women’s singles, third equal in the women’s pairs and a beaten quarter-finalist in the women’s fours.
A commemorative plaque was also gifted to Taieri Bowling Club president Peter Andrews, awarded by Bowls NZ Board member Tony Lepper - reflecting the club’s superb efforts in hosting and expert coordination of hundreds of volunteers.
Bowls New Zealand CEO Mark Cameron concluded by thanking all involved and said bowlers can expect a decision around where the 2018/19 BLK National Open Championships would be held, to be announced in the coming months.
Results at a Glance
BLK National Men’s Fours Champion:
Ali Forsyth, Gary Lawson, Shannon McIlroy, Justin Goodwin (Composite) d Sheldon Bagrie-Howley,
Taylor Horn, Seamus Curtin, Jesse Russell (Composite); 21-14
BLK National Women’s Fours Champion:
Mandy Boyd, Leigh Griffin, Sheryl McLean, Angela Boyd (Composite) d Sandra Keith, Serena
Matthews, Amy McIlroy, Selina Goddard (Composite); 16-15 (extra end)