It’s a bowls feast of sorts for Wellingtonians this week as rinkside followers soak in all the action at the Bowls Premier League 09, followed immediately by the 2019 Summerset National Fours.
Adding to the spice, defending champions, for both the men and women’s field, will be back in action with their respective teams, as double world champion Gary Lawson eyes an unprecedented 14th national title and Mandy Boyd, with one change in personnel, looks for a repeat performance from her crew.
Recently recalled to the New Zealand squad, Lawson has already proven to be in devastating touch this month, claiming a back-to-back victory at the prestigious Nelson Premier Fours last weekend and accounting for some star-studded line-ups.
Rejoining the title defence will be reigning world singles champion Shannon McIlroy, fellow New Zealand recall Jamie Hill and star lead and former Blackjack Tony Grantham – in a side that rightly earns the pre-tournament favourites tag.
Other sides expected to be pushing for a post-section placing in the men’s field will be last year’s runner-ups Sheldon Bagrie-Howley, recently crowned National Men’s Singles champion Taylor Horn, Jesse Russell and Jordan King, replacing the now Australia-based Seamus Curtin and the vastly experienced quartet of New Zealand squad members Mike Kernaghan and Andrew Kelly, combined with Dunedin representatives Andy McLean and Roger Stevens.
Local hopes will rest on the shoulders of young guns Ray Martin, Bradley Down, Finbar McGuigan and the composed Richard Corry, while you can expect a strong showing from the composite four of Adam Turner, Robbie Bird, Tim Toomey and James Fairhall – all accomplished bowlers in the Wellington catchment.
The women’s action will see Boyd take to the green with sister Angela, Leigh Griffin and her long-time friend Kirsten Edwards, who replaces last year’s winning team member in Canterbury’s Sheryl McLean. Boyd’s strongest opposition is likely to be the composite four of Amy McIlroy, Selina Goddard, Wendy Jensen and Lisa Prideaux – all players recently named as part of the revamped High Performance national squad.
Though with team entries up from 36 to 46 in the women’s field, other firm challenges are to be staged with the likes of Australian Open champions Marilyn Emerton and her side of Catherine Bien, Ling Qu and Leanne Poulson lining-up, as well as the formidable Wellington combination of Clare Hendra, Nicole Toomey, Hayley May and Sarah Cooper.
Other leading composites to watch will be the sides skipped by Lisa White, Serena Matthews, Reen Stratford, Margaret O’Connor and the recently crowned National Women’s Singles champion Debbie White, to name a few – but rest assured, over six qualifying games, upsets can happen at any time.
With the headquarters set at Naenae, supporting greens include Island Bay, Johnsonville, Silverstream, Stokes Valley, Upper Hutt, Wilton, Khandallah, Lyall Bay, Petone Central and Tawa – with all finals expected to take place on Monday.
The action gets underway on Friday, with qualifying held over the first two days and the post-section and finals scheduled for Sunday and Monday – with Tuesday on standby if the number of qualifiers, or inclement weather, warrants further play.
-END -Sam Morton