Davies, Bolscher, Hunia & Eagleton edge thrilling Taranaki victory

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The Papakura crew of Marg Davies, Hetty Bolscher, Cheryl Hunia and Les Eagleton have held their nerve to take out the Taranaki Women’s Open Fours final in a solitary point victory.

Now in its 68th year, the Summer of Bowls event, which follows the long standing tradition of the men’s format held a week beforehand, attracted 56 teams – with numbers up on last year’s 48 entries.

Much like the men’s event, the New Plymouth competition always serves as a drawcard for some of the best club and composite combinations around, though on this occasion, reigning champions Karen de Jongh, Debbie White Sue Broadbent and Carol Cox were unable to return.

With the teams split in to four sections of 14, each side played six games of 25-ends over three days of qualifying, with teams securing a minimum of four wins to progress.

As qualifying came to an end, 22 teams made the cut.

2020 Taranaki Women’s Open Fours champions Les Eagleton, Cheryl Hunia, Hetty Bolscher and Marg Davies (Papakura).

Left standing in the quarter-finals were (skips names only); Jean Sheary (Matua), Ann Loomb (Mt Maunganui), Marg Davies (Papakura), Pauline Pirere (Laird Park), Pam Burgess (Wanganui), Rhonda Adams (Fitzroy), June Smith (Tauranga) and Karen Forrest (Manurewa).

The semi-final fixtures, played on the Paritutu greens, saw Davies’ Papakura quartet comfortably dispatch Sheary, 24-11, while across rinks Burgess enjoyed a similar feat opposite Smith, 21-10.

Racing out of the blocks early, Davies and team appeared to have things under control with a commanding 11-0 lead after only seven ends, before extending that lead to 22-9 after sixteen ends.

However, a spirited comeback saw the Wanganui ladies (Burgess, Dot Belliss, Sonia Wooding, Denise Taylor) draw the score back to 24-20 playing the final end. Needing four shots to force an extra end, Burgess wasted no time turning the opposition’s shot bowl off the head to lay with five and match win.

Though, showing her cool under pressure, Davies pushed through the head and sat on the shot bowl, regaining advantage and giving her side the match win. With nothing left to lose, Burgess pushed through the head, collecting the jack, but falling agonisingly short of the required count, picking up three and leaving a somewhat relieved Davies to celebrate with her side, 24-23.

The final end thriller was a fitting finale to what has been a long and successful fortnight for Taranaki, once again excelling in their hospitality and seamless operations.

2020 Taranaki Women’s Open Fours runner-ups Denise Taylor, Sonia Wooding, Dot Belliss and Pam Burgess, flanked by Bowls Taranaki president Ian Andrews.

Reflecting on both the men’s and women’s fours events, Bowls Taranaki president Ian Andrews said he was delighted with how the “fabulous fortnight” had gone, pointing out feedback from bowlers had been extremely positive.

“Throughout both events, I’ve spoken to many bowlers and I’m very pleased,” Andrews said.

“We will take a breath and then conduct a full debrief. There had been no major disruptions or problems during the last two weeks, but we strive for perfection.”

On behalf of the centre, Andrews acknowledged the outstanding support received by clubs, visiting teams, local teams, workers and all volunteers that make the events what they are.

But the effort doesn’t stop there for Taranaki, as the annual Aotearoa National Bowls Tournament rolls in to town this week, commencing Friday, February 7 and running through to Monday.

Results at a Glance
68th Taranaki Women’s Open Fours, New Plymouth

Davies d Burgess: 24-23

Davies d Sheary: 24-11
Burgess d Smith: 26-10

Marj Flowerday, Lynne Taylor, Pat Gillon, Jean Sheary (Matua) d Deirdre Parkes, Gloria Duffin, Lennie Symons, Ann Loomb (Mt Maunganui): 26-12

Les Eagleton, Cheryl Hunia, Hetty Bolscher, Marg Davies (Papakura) d Maria Klitscher, Joan Raymond, Debbie Wildermoth, Pauline Pirere (Laird Park): 30- 20

Denise Taylor, Sonia Wooding, Dot Belliss, Pam Burgess (Wanganui) d Faye Hill, Norma Rothwell, Vickie Kelly, Rhonda Adams (Fitzroy): 19-15

Donna Whitten, Alison Brocklehurst, June Mabbett, June Smith (Tauranga) d Miriam Pedley, Nancy Wilson, Jan Jones, Karen Forrest (Manurewa): 22-14.

by Sam Morton