The all-local side of West End’s Craig De Faria, Jordan Linn, Dave Wilson and Steve Walker took out the top spot at the coveted Taranaki Men’s Open Fours, comfortably dispatching Brian Little’s Palmerston North quartet in a commanding performance on their home surface.
Now in its 114th year, the event has long been regarded as a crowd favourite among visitors and locals alike, with the once traditional 25-end format providing plenty of action throughout the week.
This year’s event attracted 166 teams, with figures showing entries up by 10 teams overall – 96 teams from outside of the Taranaki region and 70 teams comprised from within the province.
The first four days saw qualifying rounds play out, with teams requiring six wins from eight to advance to post-section play. As the dust settled on qualifying, 39 teams had done enough to contest the silverware up for grabs and by the penultimate day, the semi-finalists were found.
Standing strong in the final four were the reigning champions Brody Dix, Adam Wishnoski, Keith Ansell and Gary Dougherty, 2016 winner Little, Ian Monaghan, Ron Henn and Brian Henn, West End’s De Faria and Co and Nigel Drew’s Birkenhead quartet comprising Randall Watkins, Lionel Drew and Mark Rumble.
The final saw De Faria’s line-up go head-to-head with Little in a fixture that eventually proved one-way traffic, De Faria having to bounce back from a slow start to overturn a small 8-2 deficit into a commanding lead of 17-8.
Despite Little’s side giving everything to the fight back, De Faria’s four had clearly found their momentum and buoyed by the support of their home crowd continued to take control of the final, closing the result out with three ends left to play 24-13, as Little conceded defeat and gifted the impressive silverware to the men in light blue.
The semi-final’s action saw Dix’s hopes of back-to-back titles slashed with Little’s side running out victors 25-16, while De Faria edged a close encounter 21-17, also requiring a comeback run after trailing 9-1 against Drew.
Beaten quarter-finalists included former New Zealand representative Dan Delany, Taranaki representative Dean Elgar, Wanganui’s Carey Pinker and Tower’s Bruce Phillips – many of the games going down to the wire in a thrilling conclusion to the tournament.
In other results, the New Plymouth Club Open Pairs, a tournament predominantly held for the non-qualifiers, saw the Mangere talent of Taylor Horn rise to the fore once again, this time teaming with fellow Kittyhawk competitor Hamish Kape (Okato) to take out the title, defeating local favourites Bruce Hall and Bruce Lilley, 24-13, in a dominant showing.
Earlier in the day, Kape and Horn beat the Orewa duo of Martin Hitchings and Mike Paton, 31-17, while Hall and Lilley proved too strong for Takaro’s Bones Burton and Glen Curtis, 23-12.
With the winners now found for 2019, organisers are already in review mode thinking ahead to 2020, though first with the Taranaki Women’s Open Fours getting underway on Tuesday (Jan 29), all eyes will be on the business end of the competition later this week.
Results at a
114th Taranaki Men’s Open Fours, New Plymouth
Craig De Faria, Jordan Linn, Dave Wilson and Steve Walker (West End) d Brian Little, Ian Monaghan, Ron Henn and Brian Henn (Palmerston North); 24-13