It was a double celebration for the South Island on Sunday, as North East Valley pairing Keanu Darby and Roger Stevens and Picton’s Jenny Anderson and Helen McIsaac took out the Summerset National Champion of Champions Pairs against their North Island counterparts, all four of them securing their maiden national title.
Hosted at the Hopes Dunedin Lawn Bowls Stadium, 20 men and 17 women (pairings) converged to contest the final stage of a three-tier competition, with play first commencing at club championship level throughout the season. The format requires three out of four wins to progress to post-section play, with eight pairings making the cut in the men and five combinations among the women.
In a scintillating finish to proceedings, Darby and Stevens prevailed in the men’s final opposite the vastly experienced North Harbour pairing of Neil Fisher and Sean Mulholland, securing the solitary shot on an extra end to lift the silverware.
With the scores locked at 18-18 after 18 ends, nothing could separate the two in-form combinations on the Dunedin blue carpet. Game down, Darby cut a relatively relaxed figure as he returned to the mat, took a deep breath and ran the jack into the ditch to turn the title back in their favour. Fisher’s attempt to draw the difference fell short, with the local hopes left to high five and enjoy a memorable win.
The semi-finals saw Fisher and Mulholland (Browns Bay) defeat the well-performed Geraldine pairing of Roger Glendinning and Jared Trevathan, 14-13, while Darby and Stevens held on for a cliff-hanger finish opposite Ray Wilson and Peter Belliss (Aramoho), 17-16.
Beaten quarter-finalists were Bob McAuley and Doug O’Callgahan (Bannockburn), James Burne and Bevan Webb (Waipukurau), Aaron Love and Mark O’Brien (Martinborough) and the powerhouse Gore line-up of Sheldon Bagrie-Howley and Craig Tinker.
Across rinks, the women’s final saw Anderson and McIsaac defeat the highly-fancied Hinuera combination of Debbie White and Bev Corbett, running out with the win, 21-12. The win completed a clean-sweep for the Picton duo, with Anderson clearly starting to show promise among the Marlborough ranks, having enjoyed several successful seasons in recent years since relocating from Canterbury.
The semi-finals saw White and Corbett defeat the well-gelled pairing of Sarah Scott and Bronwyn Stevens, 18-11, while Anderson and McIsaac secured the spoils opposite Bowls Hastings duo Chris Telford and Michelle Robinson, 14-11.
South Canterbury combination Mata Frankum and Julie Robins (Waimate) also qualified, though were dispatched in the earlier round courtesy of Scott and Stevens, 15-13.
Attention now moves to the Summerset National Champion of Champions Triples, with the action remaining in Dunedin this weekend before for the culmination of the series with the Summerset National Champion of Champions Fours (21-23 July) being held in Auckland, shared between Royal Oak and Pukekohe.