Record-extending 14th national title for Gary Lawson

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Gary Lawson is presented with his third gold star for his 15th national title (including a 2009 national club title)

Gary Lawson has further etched his name into Bowls New Zealand’s history books, winning an unprecedented 14th national title.

Lawson has skipped Jamie Hill, Caleb Hope and Sheldon Bagrie-Howley to a come-from-behind 18-16 extra end victory over his Blackjacks team-mate Mike Kernaghan in the men’s final at the Summerset National Fours in Mt Maunganui.

“The 14th is just as good as the first, they all mean the same. They’re hard to win, you never know when you’re going to win your last,” Lawson said.

Significantly it is the first national title for young Southlanders Bagrie-Howley and Hope.

“I’ve been with a lot of boys who’ve won their first and never won another one so these boys I’m just so happy to be with them winning their first title. It’s something they’ll never forget.

“The young fellas have been asking me for three or four years and I said ‘I’ll give you a go one day’.

“They showed they’ve got the talent and they’re going to be really good for New Zealand for a long time.”

Lawson came back from 16-11 down with three ends to play to force a deciding extra end, picking up three shots on the 17th.

“Sort of still a little bit numb, not quite sure how we got out of it, but we’ll take it.

“The rub of the green wasn’t really working for us early and I said to the boys ‘just got to hang in there’.

“I thought the young fellas played awesome. They kept their nerve and I thought they played the final three or four ends really good and gave us a chance.

“I got a good one in the second to last end which kept us in the game obviously, but I’m thrilled for the young fellas.”

Earlier, Lawson beat Mike Carroll’s Stokes Valley quartet 23-11 in the semi-finals, while Kernaghan got the better of world champion Shannon McIlroy 17-11 to advance to his second straight fours final. Cruelly he finished runner-up for the second year running.

Sandra Keith (skip), Clare Hendra, Selina Smith and Tayla Bruce have won the women’s fours title, beating Wendy Green 21-12 in the final.

It’s the first national title for Hendra and the second this year for Smith, who won the pairs with Katelyn Inch in January.

“It gives me a set, I’m happy. Been bridesmaid twice so pretty cool, I’m really rapt,” Keith said.

“The team has gone really well the whole tournament and it’s been a bit of an armchair ride to be honest, but I’ll take it.”

It is the second national fours title for Bruce in four years and she made the four a reality, asking Keith to be their skip.

“Up front Tayla led superbly all day and everyone did their bit.

“It starts at the start. I’m there to stop it going all haywire and I didn’t have to today and that’s good.”

Sandra Keith had earlier beaten new Blackjack Debbie White 20-12 in the semi-finals, while Wendy Green downed Denise West 18-13.