Close games were the order of the day in the morning as the 44 qualifiers were reduced to 12 surviving teams in the 113th Taranaki men’s Open fours at Paritutu and West End yesterday.
The morning round saw three matches decided on an extra end, while three other games saw teams score sufficient points to overtake their opponents on the 25th end.
Of the 12 teams remaining, four are already into the quarterfinals. Those teams will still play at 9am today, alongside the four remaining last-16 games, on the front green at Paritutu.
Many of the leading teams fell during the day’s play and that opportunity has been seized upon by the teams that remain alive.
The two confirmed quarterfinals feature Noel Probyn (Fitzroy) against Richard Meacle (Australia) and Peter Thomson (Paekakariki) playing Ross Henderson (West End). The winners of those two games will have the afternoon off before Sunday’s semifinals.
The other games, at the last 16 stage, see Steve Hoeft (Pt Chevalier) opposing Ian Coombe (Mairangi Bay), Adam Wishnoski (New Lynn) playing Ray Park (Wanganui), an all-Wilton clash between Howard Ivory and Anton Ferrari, and Darren Goodin (Paritutu) squaring off against Peter Belliss (Aramoho).
Probyn’s side, which is in fact being skipped by Ian Mahoney and includes Tony Walsh and Nigel Newton, nudged through both games by a single shot – 24-23 over Mark Anderson (Alton) in the morning and then 22-21 over Barry Wynks (Takaro) in the afternoon.
Meacle’s side of Graham Clarke, Hans Van Roy and Al Johnson also had two very close shaves. In the morning, they got the necessary single on the last end to beat David hood (Kerikeri) 19-18, and then held off Rodney Woods’ Opunake side 21-19 in the afternoon round. They had led by three playing the last end.
Thomson, a Kapiti rep, advanced into the last eight for the first time, skipping his side of Henry Yee, Kurt Burgess and Ged Ebbrell to two hard-fought victories.
In the morning, from 14-11 down after 19 ends against Mort Jones (Hillcrest), Thomson grabbed a single, a three and a five, and then held on to win 21-16. A count of four on the 16th end – the teams had been locked at 12-all – was crucial in the side ending the hopes of the 2010 runner-up Cliff Mitchell-Burnard (Te Kuiti).
Henderson, who skipped a team to the last 16 of the Dominion fours last season, claimed his morning match against Ray Hudson (Central Levin) with his last bowl, when he pushed Hudson’s shot into the ditch. That gave Henderson’s side of Norm Broughton, Martin Dravitzki and John Garrud a 20-18 and in the afternoon they cruised home 29-8 over Alan Sandercock (Australia).
Peter Belliss survived his only game of the day, just, 23-22 over Neil Candy (West End). Candy had led 22-15 with four ends remaining, but the Wanganui team did enough to get across the line. So, too, did their River City colleague, Ray Park, but again, only just.
Park was taken to an extra end by West End’s Gary Lilley and Park found his weight at the right time, drawing the winning shot to clinch the contest 20-19.
Ivory is making his return to the Taranaki Open a memorable trip, after missing the tournament for a number of years. John Earles, the “Sherriff”, is No 3 this time, which is the reverse of previous trips to the Open. In 1999 they were runner-up and finished third-equal in the following two seasons. On Friday, a good run on the home straight (ends numbered 20 onwards) saw Ivory eliminate Stu Settle (Hinuera) 23-18. In the afternoon, a mid-game scoring spree that netted 11 shots was the difference in beating Ian Porteous (Aramoho) 24-15.
Clubmate Ferrari also had memorable day, upsetting the 2016 winner Brian Little (Palmerston North) 25-15 and his side repeated that scoreline in the afternoon in concluding the fine week of Terry Cullen’s Helensville side.
Goodin posted his second win of the day 32-10 over Terry Mullin’s Pihama team that had punched above its weight all week.
Wishnoski, who is leading in the New Lynn side, with Brody Dix skipping, defeated Ian Lowry (Rahotu) 26-19 in the second game, having roared away 19-4 after 10 ends. It was a disappointing end for the Lowry side, which had been unbeaten until that time and turned in a brilliant morning round in tipping out the most favoured Taranaki team, Craig Johns (West End) 22-17.
Coombe sneaked through in the last round, grabbing a single on the last end to beat Ian Mason (Havelock North) 22-21.
Hoeft advanced his round two match 26-17 over Ross Thorn (Naenae), two threes on ends 24 and 25 inflating the margin.