Martin and Inch claim maiden national titles

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2020 Summerset National Men’s Pairs champions Robbie Bennett, Ray Martin & 2020 Summerset National Women’s Pairs champions Katelyn Inch, Selina Goddard.

Persistence has paid off for Wellington representative Raymond Martin, who after two previous finals has now managed to tick off a national title on his resume.

Teaming up with fellow Wellington bowler Robbie Bennett (Titahi Bay), Martin (Victoria) continued to show his consistency on the national stage, defeating the strong pairing of Andrew Kelly and Richard Hocking in Wednesday morning’s final at the Papanui Club in Christchurch, taking out the men’s pairs silverware for 2020.

In pleasant conditions, Martin and Bennett were able to race out to a comfortable lead, with Kelly and Hocking requiring a six on the penultimate end to keep the game alive. Unable to do so, Martin, who was earlier this season selected to represent New Zealand at the Hong Kong Classic prior to the tournament cancellation, realised he had finally achieved a national title, while for Bennett, it was his second.

Speaking moments after the game, Martin complimented Kelly and Hocking on their efforts, pointing out “it was a very tight game”.

“I don’t know if the score reflected the game to be fair, Andrew went through some small gaps and got some unfortunate wicks in the wrong direction, but we definitely had a lot of bowls on the head throughout and that made it difficult for them,” Martin said.

“We’ve played well all tournament and we have hung on. Personally I’ve had a couple of nearlys in the past, so it’s just about being able to tick it off the list and keep trying to push for hopeful New Zealand selection. . . (that’s the goal).”

It was a similar story for Blackjack Katelyn Inch, who along with two-time national champion Selina Goddard, was able to secure her maiden national title.

Inch and Goddard, who have been the team to beat throughout the event, have showed their international class, defeating fellow Blackjack Tayla Bruce and skip Clare Hendra in a steady showing in the women’s pairs final.

Racing out to a 7-0 lead, the Blackjack pairing of Inch and Goddard seemed to be comfortably in control of proceedings, though a hard fought encounter saw the Hendra/Bruce combination claw back, and push forward with a 10-9 lead.

However, the lead was short-lived as Inch and Goddard put their foot on the gas and pushed their way out to a 18-13 lead, heading in to the final end. Despite their best efforts, Hendra and Bruce were unable to get the required shots to force an extra end, gifting Inch her first title and Goddard her third.

Clearly delighted with the win, Inch confirmed her first national title “means so much”.

“Obviously it’s an honour to play with Selina too, a fellow Blackjack and one of my best mates. I really can’t put it in to words, I’ve had a few close ones in the past and I’m glad to get over the line today,” Inch said.

“I’ll enjoy this for a minute or two and then I’ll go out and do my best in the singles and see what happens.”

Inch, who earlier this season won the Australian National Championship pairs with Broadbeach clubmate Julie Keegan, will now go and contest the national women’s singles final opposite world number one Jo Edwards – Edwards seeking her sixth national title and third women’s singles crown.

by Sam Morton & Brenton Vannisselroy