Martin, Down, Toomey & Bennett toast of Wilton

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Recently named Blackjack Ray Martin continued his winning form earlier this month, teaming up with his Wellington composite side of Bradley Down, Tim Toomey and Robbie Bennett to take out top spot at the 2020 Wilton Classic.

Attracting 32 star-studded sides, the Wilton Classic, endorsed as a Summer of Bowls event, saw teams compete across fours, triples, pairs and singles – with the programme allowing four rounds of fours, two sub-rounds of pairs and a triples and singles fixture across two days.

The format scoring awarded 7pts for a win in the fours, 6pts for a triples win, 5pts for pairs and 4pts for singles – totalling a possible 48pts available over six complete rounds.

Martin, who earlier this season combined with Bennett to take out the National Men’s Pairs, proved once again to be riding a purple patch of form, spearheading former Victoria clubmate Down and present clubmate Toomey to victory – collectively dropping only one game in the pairs on day one.

An unblemished second day saw the star composite stride to victory, finishing only two points ahead of Brendon Gibson, Grant Wakefield, Adrian Cronin and Wally Smith – Gibson’s men ruing an opening round loss in the fours after going through the tournament undefeated in the remaining fixtures.

The win marked the fifth occasion Bennett had won the event, Bennett also proving to be in fine form this season – combining previously with Martin to win the Paraparaumu 2x4x2 pairs at the start of the season, before going on to lift his second national title, winning the pairs in Christchurch.

In other results, an impressive showing from Alan Brider, Brent Stubbins and the Amer brothers Logan and Bradley saw them finish in third place – Brider’s men dropping only one round of pairs and their singles fixture to finish on 39pts.

Rounding out the placings, Sar Alefosio, Ralph Vulu, Barry Fairweather and Mone Kele edged fourth spot, just one point ahead of Lou Newman, Gary Ruane, Mike Solomon and Joe Melmore in fifth and two points ahead of Kevin Smith, Bruce Milne, Owen Sutton and Noel Sutton, placing sixth.

In an added incentive for the final round, last game winners (not in the top six) received $100, with winners including (skips name only); Snowden, Reed, Fleming, Milne, Prasad, Galbraith, Dodd, Guy, Steele, Webb and Reid.

Meanwhile, Martin, who was due to represent New Zealand at the World Indoor Singles in the UK next month, will now have to wait to showcase his talents on the world stage, with the Covid-19 outbreak putting an indefinite pause on proceedings and forcing organisers to postpone the event until further notice.

The Wilton Classic will return in March next year.

by Sam Morton