Defending champions off to a fast start in Bay of Plenty

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Mandy Boyd in action at the 2018 Summerset Nationals

Mandy Boyd has made a perfect start to her quest for a fifth national fours title in seven years.

The former Blackjack and her quartet featuring Kirsten Edwards, Leigh Griffin and sister Angela Boyd have convincingly won their opening three matches in section play on day one of the Summerset National Fours in Bay of Plenty.

The defending champions raced to 22-6, 26-7 and 24-10 wins over Nicole Toomey, Estelle Hickey and Anne Burggraaf respectively.

They are one of just eight unbeaten women’s combinations after three rounds and will face arguably their toughest test tomorrow (Friday, February 28) morning at Matua when they play Wendy Jensen’s four, which is also a perfect three from three.

The winner of that round four match-up will be assured a place in post-section play.

Blackjacks coach Sharon Sims is also amongst the skips needing just one win on day two to advance to the knock-out rounds, with the others being Wendy Green, Liz Witton, Margaret O’Connor, Heather Gilbert and Katrina Ensor.

Sandra Keith’s quartet, which includes New Zealand internationals Selina Smith and Tayla Bruce, require two wins from three tomorrow after a late setback on the opening day.

They lost 22-13 to Manu Timoti in the third round after relatively straightforward wins in their opening two rounds.

Defending men’s champions Dean Elgar, Bruce Hall, Neil Candy and Gavin Scrivener are in the same position as Keith’s four after they were beaten in the third round of section play.

They lost 23-10 to Shannon McIlroy, Pete Hodson, Seamus Curtin and Tony Grantham, after contrasting victories in the opening two rounds.

Elgar edged Bob Telfer 15-14 before running away with a 24-9 win over Rodney Greaney.

It was a much-needed result for McIlroy’s much-vaunted four after they had lost 20-15 to Lou Newman in the second round.

They can only afford one more slip-up in the final three rounds of qualifying.

Newman’s quartet is one of 14 unbeaten men’s combinations on day one, which includes those skipped by McIlroy’s Blackjack team-mates Gary Lawson and Andrew Kelly and newly named New Zealand international Ray Martin.

While they are on the verge of advancing to the knock-out rounds, fellow Blackjack Mike Kernaghan has a smaller margin for error.

Kernaghan’s four, skipped by Lance Pascoe, had a narrow 18-17 loss to Roy Nugter in the second round of section play and need to win two of their remaining three qualifying matches to progress.

Bowls New Zealand head coach Peter Belliss, the 2017 champion, is facing elimination after his quartet lost its opening two matches.

They kept their hopes alive with a 19-10 win over Scott McGavin in the third round and need to win their last three games in section play to qualify.
The Summerset National Fours are being held across eight clubs in Bay of Plenty, with the finals to be played at Bowls Mt Maunganui.

There are a further three rounds of section play tomorrow (Friday), with the knock-out matches starting on Saturday.