The semi-finalists have been found at the Summerset National Fours, with a string of upsets continuing to be the talking point of day three’s action.
With post-section play held at both Silverstream and tournament HQ Naenae, a total of 29 qualifiers in the men and 20 qualifiers in the women’s field lined-up in their bid to edge closer to the coveted silverware.
Following three rounds of scintillating action, the last four teams were left standing, though the crowd were still catching their breath after the Hawkes Bay composite of Dean Drummond, Richard Hocking, Dave Henderson and Lloyd Fitness put a sharp halt on Gary Lawson’s hunt for a 14th title – Drummond’s side edging an enthralling encounter, overcoming Lawson, Jamie Hill, Shannon McIlroy and Tony Grantham, 21-15, in the opening round of post-section play.
Drummond, who like Hocking has featured as a former New Zealand Development representative in his own right, combined expertly with Hocking and his two vastly experienced front men, continuing their winning ways in the quarter-final opposite Stokes Valley’s Mike Carroll and his trio of club-based juniors, defeating them comfortably and booking their spot in this year’s semi-final.
The other quarter-finals saw the consistent Mike Kernaghan skipped side of fellow New Zealand squad member Andrew Kelly and Dunedin representatives Andy McLean and Roger Stevens impress with a convincing win over Bob Hall’s composite, while Central Otago raiders Pat Houlahan, Howard O’Donnell, Conor Muir and Roger O’Brien made light work of Mt Maunganui’s Steve Beel, progressing to the semi-final following their 20-4 thumping.
Taranaki’s Dean Elgar looms large on the other side of the draw, beating Mike Solomon’s composite of Neville Hill, Jim Madden and Carl Mullo to set up a mouthwatering semi-final clash opposite the giant killing Drummond four.
Meanwhile, the women’s action threw up some crowd-pleasing match-ups, with the biggest shock of the day proving the exit of Amy McIlroy and her national squad base of Selina Goddard, Wendy Jensen and Lisa Prideaux – a side tipped to push for the title, though a solitary point loss to the hands of former Commonwealth Games representative Dale Rayner in the last 16 ended all hopes.
In other results, the star-studded combination of Mandy Boyd, Kirsten Edwards, Leigh Griffin and Angela Boyd signalled their intentions early on in the piece, posting a resounding win over the well-performed Reen Stratford 25-13, before edging past Lisa White’s side of Ashleigh Jeffcoat, Kennie Critchlow and Kimberley Hemingway in a thrilling quarter-final showing, 22-21.
Across rinks, the Margaret O’Connor skipped composite of Christine Buchanan, Linley O’Callaghan and Anne Dorreen proved too strong for Canterbury’s Bev Morel , securing their spot opposite the Terrace End four of Sheryn Blake, Christina Bryan, Ailsa Lindsay and Lynlea Rogers, – Blake earlier defeating Rayner in the last eight fixture, 27-13.
The other semi-final will see reigning national women’s singles champion Debbie White and her composite-based side of Carol Cox, Angela Stephen and Jocelyn Holten take on Boyd – with both sides showing plenty of form in the latter stages of the competition.
The semi-finals and final are scheduled to get underway at Naenae Bowling Club on Monday, with the Summerset National Men’s and Women’s Fours champions expected to be crowned later that afternoon.
-END -Sam Morton