The Noble-Adams (men’s) and Higgins Shields (women’s) contested annually between Buller, Nelson, Marlborough, and West Coast were played in Murchison over the last weekend in November. Each of the four Centres fielded four men’s fours for the Noble-Adams, and four women’s triples for the Higgins, to play three 2 hour limited rounds.
Titleholders in the men’s event for the past two seasons, Marlborough, were going for a three- peat but began their campaign by recording only one win in round 1 when veteran bowler and former New Zealand representative Maurice Symes won by 3 shots over promising young West Coast bowler and birthday boy, Ethan Kelleher. Long time Marlborough rep Lloyd Gallop managed a draw against Buller’s Ross James. And Sanjhe Prasad and Kevin Greenwood lost to Nelson’s Tony Fowler and West Coast’s Kiel Smith.
While Marlborough struggled in the first round, the Nelson team had a clean sweep - with Murray Scott scoring a 1 point victory over Buller’s Rex Gibson, Peter Hodson getting home by 6 over West Coast’s Ken Smythe, and Francis Monopoli completed the sweep with a good 14 point win over Buller’s Paul Moore.
In Round 2 Marlborough mounted a strong comeback with their only loss being Gallop to Nelson’s Hodson. Nelson however only managed 2 wins - with Scott losing to Kelleher and Fowler to Buller’s Dave McLeod.
Marlborough continued their resurgence in Round 3, with their only loss being Symes to Nelson’s Scott. It was an important win for Nelson as both Fowler and Monopoli lost their final games - and Marlborough won their remaining three games. However Nelsons best-performed team on the day - the Peter Hodson skipped team of James Pugh, Paul Baken and Dean Wood remained unbeaten on the day - and Nelson snatched the Shield with 8 wins to Marlborough’s 7 wins and a draw. West Coast came third with 6 wins and a draw and Buller has just the 1 win and 2 draws.
Since the Shield was first played in 1933, Nelson has had 46 wins, Marlborough 24, West Coast 5 and Buller 9 (the event not played in 1935). Marlborough has the longest continuous tenure with 8 wins from 1976 to 1983.
Nelson women were the current holders of the Higgins Shield and began their defence with three wins in round 1 and carried that momentum through the next two rounds to comfortably retain the shield with 27 Game Points and Marlborough and West Coast on 21 Games Points. Marlborough’s better net total of shots saw them finish in second place. Buller were a very competitive fourth.
The Rhonda Bellis skipped team of Kristine Greaney and Barbara Thomason was the only team to secure three wins - comfortably beating Buller’s Diane James, West Coast’s Ann Prendergast and Marlborough’s Lisa Hart.
The Noble-Adams Shield was donated by Marlborough’s Dr Robert Noble-Adams in 1933 and is inscribed ‘To Foster the Game and the Spirit of Bowls’. The Higgins Shield was donated by former Bowls New Zealand President and Dominion Councillor Edna Higgins who was a member of the small Wakefield Bowling Club in the Nelson Centre in 1993.