Lawson reveling being back in black

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Gary Lawson in action in New Zealand’s second round match of the men’s pairs

Gary Lawson has made a successful start to his international bowls return, spearheading a near-perfect opening day for the Blackjacks at the Asia Pacific Championships on the Gold Coast.

The double world champion has won his first three matches in the men’s pairs, after a decade out of the New Zealand squad.

“It was great this morning putting the [black] shirt back on and walking out,” Lawson said.

“I wasn’t quite sure how it would actually feel but it was all good and it’s been a great day.”

Lawson and reigning world singles champion Shannon McIlroy came closest to defeat in their opening game at the Broadbeach Bowls Club, coming from four shots down to beat China 16-14 in a final end thriller.

“First game was obviously really tense and it was nice to play a couple of really good shots at the end of the game to show that I can still do it under the pump,” he said.

“We got better and better as the day went on and I thought that would be the case.

“I think we’ll need to get better to win, but hopefully each day we’ll get a little bit better and improve a little bit more.”

The New Zealand men’s triple and women’s four are also a perfect three from three after the first day of section play, but they won in contrasting fashion.

While Ali Forsyth (skip), Jamie Hill and Mike Kernaghan were relatively untroubled in wins over Thailand, Hong Kong and Macao at Broadbeach, Val Smith (skip), Katelyn Inch, Kirsten Edwards and Wendy Jensen ground out hard-fought victories over Singapore and India at Club Helensvale.

Jo Edwards had the Blackjacks’ only blemish on the opening day of competition.

The two-time defending Commonwealth Games champion was beaten 21-19 by Bongita Hazarika of India in the third round of the women’s singles at Helensvale, after earlier beating opponents from Hong Kong and Samoa.

There are a further two days of section play before the quarter-finals and semi-finals on Friday and the medal matches on Saturday.

The second week of competition will feature the women’s pairs and triples and men’s singles and fours.

Day one results:

Women’s singles – Jo Edwards beat Hong Kong 20-13, beat Samoa 21-4 & lost to India 19-21

Men’s pairs – Gary Lawson (skip) and Shannon McIlroy beat China 16-14, beat Samoa 27-11 & beat the Philippines 20-9

Men’s triples – Ali Forsyth (skip), Jamie Hill and Mike Kernaghan beat Thailand 19-11, beat Hong Kong 22-9 & beat Macao 21-8

Women’s fours – Val Smith (skip), Katelyn Inch, Kirsten Edwards and Wendy Jensen beat Niue 20-7, beat Singapore 13-10 & beat India 13-12