The Men’s Pairs and Women’s Singles qualifiers have been found at the Summerset National Championships, with day three throwing up little surprise as the pre-tournament favourites advanced through to the business end of the competition.
Leading the charge in the Men’s Pairs, the unbeaten combinations skipped by Dean Elgar, Richard Girvan, William Whitburn, Mike Galloway, Chris Lowe, Nicholas Tomsett, Frank Taungahihifo, Brent Malcom and Jeremy Brosnan, teamed with promising North Harbour youngster Daryl Read, continued their winning ways, comfortably progressing to another required victory and in some cases, ending the title run of others in the final fixtures.
The impressive Bowls3Five pairing of Aiden Takarua and Alex Reed proved up against it after winning only one match-up from three on the opening day, requiring a clean sweep of victories in the final three rounds to stay among the mix.
Not shy to step up to the challenge, the Pt Chevalier team mates demonstrated exactly why they were good enough to lift the inaugural Bowls3Five silverware at New Lynn earlier this season, dispatching Scotty McGavin, Steve Cox and Tony Marumaru in quick succession to be among the qualifiers on Sunday.
Other combinations to edge through section play include the Commonwealth Games bronze medalists Aidan Zittersteijn and Adoni Wichman-Rairoa, who after posting three wins on the opening qualifying day found themselves having to overcome the stern challenge from the already qualified Sheldon Bagrie-Howley and Seamus Curtin in the final round – following two earlier losses during the day.
Drawing on all their experience, the Rarotongan duo dug deep to account for the Curtin skipped duo 20-15, rounding out the four necessary wins to stay alive and remain strong contenders in the title race.
Also, scraping through with the minimum count, dual world champion Gary Lawson, who is on the quest to achieve a rare three-peat in the pairs, combined well with lead Jamie Hill to get past the post, despite having dropped a game in round five to the composite side of Karl Garrett and Colin Gawith – Garrett also qualifying with the victory.
In other results, World Singles champion Shannon McIlroy and former Kiwi international Justin Goodwin coasted through to post-section, as did well-performed Aucklanders Mike Bradshaw and Neville Hill, Vladimir and Ivan Marsic, former champions Rob Ashton and Petar Sain, Brody Dix and Adam Wishnoski and Victoria’s Ray Martin and Richard Corry, to name only a few.
Notable sides to miss the cut include the promising Wellington pairing of Bradley Down and Finbar McGuigan, former New Zealand Open pairs’ champions Taylor Horn and Jesse Russell, Southern raiders Alister Watson and Pat Houlahan of Central Otago and the mighty talented Dean Drummond, who with Tony Terry failed to secure a win, following an unblemished opening three rounds.
Meanwhile, with the absence of World Number One and reigning champion Jo Edwards, the Women’s Singles race always proved to be wide open, with a select dozen of previous top performers and past champions headlining the predictions.
Spearheading the list, past and present internationals Val Smith, Selina Goddard, Wendy Jensen, Sarah Scott, Ashleigh Jeffcoat, Dale Rayner, Nicole Toomey and Sue Wightman all completed wins in their opening rounds to qualify for the knockout stages, while Smith’s pairs partner Lisa Prideaux and the vastly experienced Reen Stratford and Natarsha Grimshaw equally fell short of the mark, bowing out of contention early doors.
Team mates Tayla Bruce and Clare Hendra, among former winner Leigh Griffin, daughter Kirsten Edwards and other strong contenders in the form of Debbie White, Te Rangi’s Bronwyn Stevens and Kensington’s Maureen Parker all required a win in their final round to stay afloat – all managing to achieve such a feat and cementing their spot in the playoffs in the coming days.
With all qualifiers now found in both the Men’s and Women’s Singles and Pairs, all focus will now switch to day four where the knockout rounds will commence in the Men’s Singles and Women’s Pairs, as tournament HQ Carlton Cornwall, Howick, Balmoral and Takapuna greens share the action throughout Auckland.
All results and draws can be found on the Bowls New Zealand website Summerset Nationals page.