A dramatic change of fortunes on day five has seen the Peter Belliss skipped quartet turn the screw
on their title defence, powering home with three strong wins to progress through to knock-out play
later this week at the BLK National Championships.
Following two surprise losses on the opening day of qualifying, the New Zealand great and his team
Richard Girvan, Michael Beesley and Lance Tasker had it all to do, though with wins against Stewart
Alderton, Southland’s Craig Merrilees and qualifier Bruce McNish, the reigning champs were a
picture of composure as they handled business in Dunedin moving forward with their campaign
firmly back on track.
Other strong line-ups including the Ali Forsyth and Mike Kernaghan skipped sides progressed with a game to spare, while the youthful composite of Sheldon Bagrie-Howley, Taylor Horn, Seamus Curtin and Jesse Russell appear to be untroubled thus far, remaining unbeaten throughout section play, though the Andrew Kelly skipped four were made to work right to the last bowl, requiring their final match-up against Canterbury’s Rohan Ware to progress.
The first day heroics of the Bradley Down skipped four continued as they put a halt to last year’s runner ups Dean Elgar in round five, though an opening round loss against Canterbury rep Paul McKinnel meant the Down side had to overcome a vastly experienced four skipped by former Southland rep Roy Walker, teamed with his brother Neil, Brent Munro and Paul Lawrie - eventually progressing by a solitary point to keep their title dreams alive.
Another young star making big strides at the championships is that of Kaikorai’s Jonty Horwell, a
former U18 singles champion skipping his side of Regan Larkin, Tom Taiaroa and Bobby Johnson to
post-section play, and remaining a player to watch heading into the business end of the competition.
Former winner Shaun Scott and his side narrowly missed the cut, as did former winner Kerry Becks - failing to get over the line against an already qualified Sean O’ Neill skipped quartet consisting of former national singles champion Peter Hodson and South Canterbury representatives Barrie Andrews and Travis Cook in the final round.
Meanwhile, the favoured combinations in the women’s fours made light work of their qualifying efforts, with defending champions Jo Edwards, Val Smith, Kirsten Edwards and Tayla Bruce posting an unblemished record over two days. Other teams to remain unbeaten heading into finals action include Sarah Scott joined by Blackjack Katelyn Inch, Bronwyn Stevens and Joanna Cooper, Mandy Boyd and Canadian international Kelly McKerihen.
Joining Edwards and Co in post-section, the quartet skipped by Sandra Keith comprising of Blackjack Selina Goddard, Amy McIlroy and Serena Matthews, and the Kay Hammond, Ann Muir, Anne
Bateman, Catherine Bien and the Northland based quartet skipped by Lauren Mills -all registering the required four wins from six starts to advance.
With all qualifiers now found across all disciplines, attention will turn to the opening day of post-section play where the Men’s Singles and Women’s Pairs will get underway showcasing some of the finest talent in the country.
Women’s Fours Qualifiers
Sandra Keith (Composite), Sarah Scott (Composite), Anne Bateman (Composite), Reen Stratford (Composite), Catherine Bien (Composite), Mandy Boyd (Composite), Kelly McKerihen (Composite), Lauren Mills (Composite), Kay Hammond (Composite), Ann Muir (Composite), Jo Edwards (Composite)
Men’s Fours Qualifiers
Andrew Kelly (Composite), Craig Merrilees (Composite), Peter Belliss (Composite), Bruce McNish (Composite), Lance Pascoe (Composite), Alvin Gardiner (Composite), Joko Susilo (Andersons Bay), Mike Solomon (Composite), Roy Walker (Composite), Joseph Van der Pennen (Composite), Paul McKinnel (Composite), Jamie Hill (Composite), Ali Forsyth (Composite), Bradley Down (Composite), Rod Fleming (Forbury Park), Frankie Lim (Composite), Tony Wood (Composite), Doug Thomas (Composite), Raymond Martin (Composite), Colin Gawith (Composite), Sean O’Neill (Composite), Peter Matheson (Taieri), Rob Ashton (Composite), Terry Scott (Composite), Ken Walker (Composite), Mike Kernaghan (Composite), Ross Stevens (Composite), Ian Brown (Composite), Jonty Horwell (Composite), Sheldon Bagrie-Howley (Composite), Reece Aiken (Fairfield), Geoff Purdon (Composite), Russell Dawe (Composite), Teo Turua (Bridge Park)