Wellington composite pairing Ross Thorn and Bruce Henderson started the “Summer of Bowls” season on a high, taking out the Victoria Invitational 2-4-2 Pairs in fine style last weekend.
In what proved to be perfect weather conditions, a top class field turned out for the 22nd installment of the popular pairs event, boasting former and current Blackjacks and accomplished provincial players from across the nation.
Following three rounds of section play, Mike Kernaghan (Laurie Guy), Lou Newman (Mark Noble), Bradley Down (Tim Toomey), Adam Turner (James Fairhall), Andrew Kelly (Mark Burgess), Graeme Corlett (Glen McTaggart), Robbie Bird (Jayden Ravji) and Thorn (Henderson) progressed through to the last eight, with all to play for heading into the finals action on Sunday.
Canterbury based Blackjack Kelly combined with local club junior Mark Burgess to advance to this year’s final, lining up head to head with the more experienced combination of Thorn and Henderson.
After a thrilling 12-end final, Thorn and Henderson edged to victory 10-9 in a tense encounter, with a masterclass of draw bowls proving the difference in the early stages.
Reflecting on the weekend’s result, Thorn was delighted to take out the title for the first time, a feat also shared by Henderson.
“I’ve been in the final once before, but to take out the win with Bruce was fantastic,” Thorn said.
“You’ve got to be careful in these shorter end games not to let the score get away on you and the strengths Bruce and I had was drawing ourselves out of trouble and leaving the attacking to our opposition. It was a great way to start the season and it definitely helps to get you in good nick for other big tournaments coming up.
“Lou (Newman) and his team at Victoria always do a great job every year and to be among such a great field of bowlers is always a good challenge – it was a great final all round.”
In other results, New Zealand representative Kernaghan and Victoria stalwart Laurie Guy rounded out their tournament efforts with a third equal placing, alongside Turner and Fairhall.
The vastly established pairing of Ray Boffa and Rob Ashton shared the spoils in the plate division with former national representative Jamie Hill and Victoria’s Barry O’Brien, while Wellington teenagers Seamus Curtin and Finbar McGuigan triumphed in the Shootout Final, taking the win 16-6 opposite last year’s event champions Manawatu’s Terry Johnson and Miramar’s Wayne Coleman.
At the conclusion of play, all players showed appreciation for the level of hospitality over the weekend and made special mention of the generous sponsorship supported by Credit Consultants Wellington branch – a first time sponsor of the event helping to increase the overall prize pool.
Results at a Glance
MAIN EVENT FINAL:
Ross Thorn (Naenae) & Bruce Henderson (Johnsonville) d Andrew Kelly (Canterbury) & Mark Burgess (Victoria); 10-9
Mike Kernaghan (Dunedin) & Laurie Guy (Victoria) and Adam Turner (Silverstream) & James Fairhall (Victoria)