They may be the smallest club in the North Harbour circles, but Riverhead Bowling Club have well and truly stamped their mark on the National Bowls3Five Interclub competition in fine style.
For a club of only 24 members, the Riverhead contingent has fielded an exceptional side, reflected by their efforts to recently play their way into a quarter-finals berth opposite the Onehunga & Districts Club and edge closer to the final four to be found across the nation by April 14.
But first a look back to their efforts this far.
Taking out the North Harbour Bowls3Five league with a memorable win against the fiercely competitive Browns Bay side saw the Riverhead nine push forward with confidence, then going on to defeat the Northland travellers, Kensington in a last 16 showdown.
Played at the halfway point of Warkworth, the Riverhead champions put paid to the Kensington hopes, collecting two wins in straight sets and narrowly losing the third in a tie-breaker – albeit the final match proving irrelevant overall.
The Riverhead team comprises Grant Goodwin, Lauren Mills, Raewyn Ross, Steve Cox, Gordon Smith, Duane McDonald, David Ross and this year’s national women’s pairs semi-finalists Marion Hakaraia and Robyn Reihana.
Team manager McDonald said the team had every confidence to progress and were in high spirits heading in to the last eight clash opposite their “good mates” at Onehunga.
McDonald paid special tribute to fellow club member Peter Signal, who up until the last 16 playoffs had been an integral part of the side, but last month was forced to the sideline through heart issues, prompting Smith as a competitive replacement.
“We’re a reasonably strong club for a little club and obviously very competitive,” McDonald said.
“It’s (Bowls3Five) short, sharp and you have to concentrate for those 10 ends, or 11 ends if the tie-breaker kicks in. There’s no room or time to find your way into the game, it’s just a case of getting stuck in from the first bowl and playing great bowls under pressure . . . we’re all enjoying it.”
Their win over Kensington will now see the Riverhead side take on Onehunga & Districts in the quarter-final, with the match-up scheduled to take place at the Carlton Cornwall Club in Auckland on Thursday, April 4 at 5pm.
“We know most of the crew from Onehunga and they are very, very strong . . . we’re really looking forward to the contest. Hopefully the rest of our club can get along and cheer us on,” McDonald said.
The winner will advance to the final four at Naenae Bowling Club, where a round-robin format will be played to reveal the National Bowls3Five Interclub champion, with that respective team joining the popular SKY Sport televised league at the end of this year, replacing the relegated Woodend Jets.
National Bowls3Five Interclub, Last 16 – Riverhead (North Harbour) vs Kensington (Northland)
Riverhead d Kensington: 2-1
Riverhead team line-up
Grant Goodwin, Lauren Mills, Zaylin Ross
Steve Cox, Gordon Smith, Marion Hakaraia
Duane McDonald, David Ross, Robyn Reihana