As the Bowls3Five competition hots up around the country, two sides have already advanced to the last eight, following impressive victories in their respective regional play-offs earlier this month.
Action in the southern zone has seen the powerhouse Alexandra club come to the fore, recently defeating Dunedin’s Taieri side, 2-1, while the top of the south will be represented by Blenheim following a narrow victory opposite the iconic Stoke club.
The Bowls3Five format, popularised by this season’s televised league at New Lynn, sees clubs put forward three teams of three, which must include at least one male or female per team, to play two sets of five ends. In the event of a set each, the sides play a one end, winner takes all tie-breaker. Adding to the excitement, each team is entitled to play their one-off ‘Power Play’, which automatically doubles any points scored for that nominated end across the two sets.
Staged at the Milton Bowling Club in South Otago, both Taieri and Alexandra, who had previously won in their local centre before clashing in the last 16, put on a good exhibit, with the Central Otago contingent finishing strong to progress on the neutral territory.
Comprising multiple Central Otago representatives, the side of Bill Clements, Linley O’Callaghan, Jeff Jones, Pat Houlahan, Yvonne McCutcheon, Roger O’Brien, Trevor Drake, Martin Geary and Lyn Somerville will prove to be a tough assignment for the winners of the South Canterbury vs Canterbury regions, which will see Timaru’s Kia Toa Taniwha go head to head with Lincoln on March 26 at Hampstead Bowling Club in Ashburton.
Reflecting on the Taieri match-up, team selector Geary, said while the team had enjoyed the new concept, he hoped future events would involve less travel – with the team already clocking up hundreds of kilometres to keep their competition hopes alive throughout the season.
“We’re struggling to come to grips with the amount of travel required, particularly travelling 140kms to play 20 bowls as a team and then 140kms back, so hopefully that can be looked at and other options explored.
“But (in saying that), it’s an enjoyable event and something different that we think the game needs. In these shorter formats, you can’t afford to have a slow start . . . we’ve learnt that much,” he laughs.
Meanwhile, the Blenheim side of Maurice Symes, Jan Gallop, Barry Bridges, Colin Wratt, Shane Hitchock, Roberta Marshall, Paul Langley, Salve Muollo and Dot Capill emerged as Tasman/Marlborough champions, defeating the Stoke in a thrilling first round encounter, also finishing 2-1.
Aided by the absence of entries from the West Coast and Buller districts, Blenheim will now await the winner of Victoria vs Takaro in a lower North Island clash between the Wellington and Manawatu centres.
In other fixtures, last 16 rounds will be contested between Aramoho vs Masterton, Ngonataha vs Waikato, Papakura vs Onehunga & Districts and Riverhead vs Kensington.
All quarter-finalists will be found by March 31, with the semi-finalists then required to be found by April 14, just two weeks out from the National Finals to be played at Naenae on April 28.
The ultimate winner of the Bowls3Five National Interclub competition will find themselves among the action in the televised league to be aired on SKY Sport in the 2019 season.