Nelson and Elmwood Park have been crowned National Interclub Sevens champions for the first time at Burnside Bowling Club in Christchurch.
Jo Edwards has sealed Nelson’s win over Takapuna (North Harbour) in the women’s final by beating former Blackjacks team-mate Selina Smith in an enthralling singles match, after Elmwood Park (Canterbury), led by 14-time national champion Gary Lawson, edged Stoke (Nelson) in the men’s decider.
The decorated duo were overjoyed to help guide their clubs to their maiden National Interclub Sevens titles.
“It’s bloody special this. The seven, eight, nine of us that have come away are just really good mates,” Edwards said.
“Four of us have been mates for 30 years and it’s so special to win something like this with your mates.”
“I’m a great believer that it starts at your club. If you can get your club going good then you move on to your centre and then New Zealand,” Lawson said.
“This is right up there with the intercentre. You’re playing with your mates and to win for your club is huge.
“There’s a lot of good teams here and a lot of teams want to win so for us to walk away [as winners] is awesome.”
Takapuna took the lead in the women’s final, with Lisa Parlane and Anne Dorreen beating Colleen Earl and Linda Erasmus 21-10 in the pairs.
Val Smith, Kay Hammond, Linda Sisterson and Di Holland then edged Wendy Jensen, Robyne Walker, Adele Ineson and Connie Mathieson 12-10 in the fours to draw Nelson level.
That left it up to Edwards, who eventually beat Selina Smith 21-17 in the singles to kick start Nelson’s celebrations.
Edwards and Val Smith started their illustrious careers at the Nelson Bowling Club 28 years ago.
“It’s such a great club. I’ve got a lot of love for them,” Edwards said.
Earlier the Elmwood Park four of Lance Pascoe, Paul McKinnel, Liam Eathorne and Steve Ditfort sealed the title for the Canterbury champions, beating the Stoke quartet of Robbie Reed, Jimmy Pugh, Don Ambrose and Chris Alldred 18-13.
Stoke were first on the board, with Peter Hodson and Graham Growcott upsetting the previously unbeaten Gary Lawson and Nathan Glasson 20-9 in the pairs.
Kelvin Scott then drew Elmwood Park level, handing world champion Shannon McIlroy his defeat of the tournament in the singles.
Scott held on to an early 15-5 advantage to beat McIlroy 21-19.
“Kelvin Scott was sensational wasn’t he, beating McIlroy,” Lawson said.
“Shannon was awesome coming back towards the end, but he [Scott] was very confident. At lunchtime he said ‘I think I can beat him’.”
And beat him he did as Elmwood Park gained some revenge for their Bowls3Five final defeats to Stoke and Stokes Valley by beating both clubs on their way to winning the National Interclub Sevens title.
“I suppose it’s a little bit of payback time for us,” Lawson said.