Former Blackjack Dan Delany (Royal Oak), a four-time winner of the Taranaki Open, suffered his second defeat during section play of the 113th tournament at Fitzroy on Tuesday afternoon.
Delany is skipping a familiar side with Mike Nasey and Joe Whitelaw, two players who have shared in multiple Open successes, and one newcomer this year, Gary Cotter. Cotter impressed in last year’s event leading for a Hamilton side. After a loss and a win on Monday, Delany appeared in reasonable touch in beating Russell Haddock (Wanganui) 25-17 yesterday morning.
But in the afternoon, the Delany side ran into a wily side from Tauranga South of Robbie Frelan, dual Dominion fours winner Maurice Hickey, John Simons and 1987 Dominion pairs winner Peter Clark. Clark is now 82, but still one of the best skips going around. His team, after two wins on Monday, were somewhat smarting, having seen a lead in the morning evaporate as they fell 18-15 to three-winner Ross Henderson (West End). But the Bay of Plenty team turned things around in the last round of the day, prevailing 30-19 to keep themselves in a solid over-night position.
The loss left Delany’s team needing to win their last four matches. This morning they face Warren Bellringer (New Plymouth), who skips the only side in the section with an unblemished record. Bellringer’s team received its sternest test to date when it beat Dave Hewitt (Silverstream) 25-16 in the morning and then accounted for Richard Death (Te Awamutu) 27-6 in the later round.
Delany is not alone in the two-win, two-loss record, with a number of other teams predicted to qualify also in the same boat. Those teams include Adam Wishnoski (New Lynn), Rex Holmes (Paraparaumu Beach), Cary Pinker (Wanganui East) and Steve Hoeft (Pt Chevalier). The most noted causality is Russell Hardy (Tower), after the 2003 winner dropped his morning game 26-15 to three-winner Trevor Rayner (Tawa).
There are 17 teams that are still to taste defeat in the Taranaki Open fours and some have already indicated that it will take a team of some quality to inflict that first loss.
Among those teams are Brian Little (Palmerston North), Ray Park (Wangannui), Peter Belliss (Aramoho) and Craig Johns (West End). Little, after beating Colin Salmon (Taradale) 30-16, ended the day with a convincing 25-11 win over a team of predominantly newer bowlers headed by Darren Scott (West End), which until then had posted three strong wins.
Johns opened the day with a 21-10 win over Naenae’s Ross Thorn in a match closer than the score indicated, the greater consistency of the West End side prevailing. Thorn had a further hiccup in the afternoon losing 27-20 to three-winner Ken Greeks (Napier), with Johns defeating Bob Harris (Canterbury) 25-11. Park saw off the challenge of Paritutu’s Ian Andrews 26-18 and then accounted for Tower’s Jeff Ward 30-9. Belliss was kept honest for parts of his morning match, seeing off Gary Russek (Omokoroa) 23-13 and then cruised home 28-9 over David Mora (Whangarei). David Hood (Kerikeri) remained unbeaten, although it was a little tight in the morning when they beat Tony Holdsworth (Central) 20-16.
The last game of the day to finish was between Ian Lowry (Rahotu) and Neil Candy (West End). Both teams headed into the game with three wins and it was the coastal side that came through, winning 26-20.