Blackjacks qualify for medal chase at World Bowls Championships

On the back of a record-setting day for their skip, Val Smith, a formidable New Zealand women's triples team will chase gold tomorrow against hosts Australia at the Bowls World  Championships on the Gold Coast.

Smith celebrated the semifinal victory over Canada today which was her 647th performance for New Zealand, which surpassed the previous record of good friend Jo Edwards.

It marked an outstanding day for the triples led by singles world champion Tayla Bruce and the talented Leeane Poulson and skipped by smith, as they edged past Malaysia 14-13 in the morning quarterfinal and dominated Canada 20-9 in the semifinal.

They now take on the might of Australia at Broadbeach on Sunday in front of a partisan crowd.

“The girls worked really hard today upfront because it wasn’t easy out there,” said Smith. “The green speed change throughout the day and sped up as the day went on. There were different speeds in different directions as well but the concentration was very good.

“We know it is going to be a tough one because it is Australia on their home track, If we can keep that spirit, confidence, the positive mindset  and high work ethic that that is what gets us through.”

Smith said her personal record was not something she every considered.

“It’s a privilege to have had that many opportunities to play for New Zealand. I didn’t set out to go beyond Jo and I am sure Jo did not set out to reach this mark either.

“We‘ve been very lucky to play this many caps for New Zealand. When you start your international career it is not something you think about,  that you will be around 640-odd games later. We both see it as a massive privilege and we are very fortunate.”

In a heart-pounding quarterfinal clash, the team displayed nerves of steel, culminating in a jaw-dropping last-bowl by Smith, securing a top three finish. Their semifinal showdown against Canada showcased a masterclass in precision bowling from all three players, resulting in a decisive 20-9 victory that solidified their spot in the finals against Australia on Sunday.

The New Zealand Blackjacks have had a successful day of play at the World Championships, contesting three quarterfinals.

The women’s pair of Katelyn Inch and Selina Goddard have finished their World Championship campaign with an agonising quarterfinal loss to Scotland. The kiwis were down 1-4 after four ends and were still behind by five shots after 11 ends chasing from behind throughout their contest. They pushed hard over the closing two ends but came up short by a single shot, 16-17 in an incredibly close-fought battle.

The New Zealand men's fours team Sheldon Bagrie-Howley, Lance Pascoe, Chris LeLievre, and Tony Grantham, displayed exceptional skill and determination, securing a well-deserved bronze medal in the fiercely contested men's fours event.

From the outset, the Kiwi team demonstrated their mettle, surging ahead with an impressive lead of 7-1 after just three ends in the quarterfinal against a formidable quartet from Hong Kong China in the quarterfinal. Despite a valiant comeback from their opponents, the New Zealanders maintained their composure, ensuring the margin never exceeded one shot throughout the match.

In a nail-biting encounter, New Zealand squared the match after 13 ends, and with strategic finesse, secured a crucial single on the 14th end and with nerves of steel, they clinched another single on the final end.

This paved the way for an exciting semifinal showdown against the Scottish four of Alex Marshall MBE, Paul Foster MBE, Derek Oliver, and Jason Banks. New Zealand demonstrated exceptional tenacity, with the deficit remaining at a single shot at the halfway point. However, the second half of the match saw Scotland score on multiple ends leading the victory 18 - 8 but a well-earned bronze medal for the determined New Zealand men’s fours.

New Zealand has another opportunity for gold as singles player Andrew Kelly secured a spot in tomorrow’s quarterfinals after commanding victories in his last two matches of section play. Kelly displayed exceptional form against opponents from Samoa and Brazil with resounding scores of 21-7 and 21-3, respectively.

With this impressive performance, Kelly now gears up for a highly anticipated quarterfinal clash against the formidable two-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist, Aaron Wilson from Australia.

Bite Sized Information Below:

Men’s Singles, section play: 21-7 Vs Samoa 21-3 Vs BrazilMen’s Fours
Quarterfinal win v Hong Kong China 14 – 12
Semifinal loss v Scotland 8 – 18

Women’s Pairs
Quarterfinal loss v Scotland 16 – 17

Women’s Triples
Quarterfinal win v Malaysia 14-13
Semifinal win v Canada 20 -9