New Zealand High Performance Squad member Wendy Jensen has got her season off to the perfect start, taking out the 2019 Frankton Railway Singles in thrilling fashion.
In what marked the first event of an action packed Summer of Bowls programme, endorsed by Bowls New Zealand, the tournament attracted star names from around the North Island, including the reigning national singles champions Debbie White and Taylor Horn, men’s singles runner-up Tony Fabling and last year’s Frankton Railway Singles champion Cliff Webber, among others.
In a format that see 32 players complete three qualifying games, one game on the Friday evening, with the other two taking place on Saturday before lunch – all players took to the carpeted rinks at Frankton Railway Bowling Club in Hamilton to get their season underway.
Those able to escape their sections continued to progress in a Top Eight and Bottom Eight of the field, while the other 16 competitors tuned in to watch the All Blacks run riot opposite a less than impressive Tonga outfit, 92-7.
Back to the bowls, all eyes were on Jensen and her opponent Steve Posa – both finalists proving to be in unstoppable form throughout and negotiating tough section draws to qualify.
Trading equal blows and both showing great skill, the game went to the wire in both sets – though it was a fired up Jensen that saw out the fixture, taking both sets 5-3, 7-5 in an entertaining conclusion to the event and pocketing the $1000 winners cheque for her efforts.
The semi-finals saw Posa edge past the well-performed PBA competitor Dave Jones in a tie-breaker, while Jensen put a stop to the rampant run of Garry Cotter, who had earlier headed off Horn in qualifying and New Zealand development representative Ashleigh Jeffcoat in the last eight.
In other results, Frankton favourite James Owen on his home green, pulled off a memorable comeback opposite the consistent and high performing Taranaki representative Craig De Faria to take out the Plate event – edging Faria in a tie-break thriller, 2-8, 8-7, 1-0.
Convincingly defeated in the first set and needing a count of three on the final end of the second set to force a tie-breaker, few would have predicted Owen’s next bowl. A crisp run shot down the centre saw Faria’s closest bowl removed, leaving Owen with the next three and both players pushing ahead to a sudden death end.
Backing this up, Owen then drew a front toucher and despite Faria’s greatest effort to dislodge the jack, Owen was able to draw closer to take the match-up and secure the silverware.
Beaten semi-finalists in the plate were local hope Kerry Margan and Hamilton’s Jesse Russell.
With such positive feedback about the event and format, the Frankton Railway Club are now exploring the opportunity to host a pairs tournament run in a similar way.
Watch this space.
Results at a Glance
2019 Frankton Railway Singles
Champion: Wendy Jensen
R/Up: Steve Posa
Winner: James Owen
R/Up: Craig De Faria