Wilson and Wedlock lead Australian onslaught at Burnside

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Australian representative and reigning Commonwealth singles champion Aaron Wilson has staged another win on New Zealand soil, this time combining with fellow Jackaroo Corey Wedlock to take out the prestigious 2020 Bayleys Stewart Buttar Invitational Pairs at Burnside.

Wilson, who has previously etched his name on other New Zealand silverware such as his back-to-back wins at North East Valley in 2017 & 2018, was in irrepressible form throughout the event, ably supported by Wedlock, who rarely missed a beat.

A longstanding event, the invitational pairs format welcomes a star-studded line-up to the Burnside complex every year, with pairings featuring some of the best players from both sides of the Tasman – including a host of top past, present and future international stars from throughout New Zealand.

The three-day event got underway on Friday, with teams playing three games of section play, two further games on Saturday and then the first round of post-section before Sunday’s business end action commences.

Following five rounds of section play, the top placing in each section advanced through to the Main Event – squaring off in a bid to progress through to the Grand Finale. This year’s top qualifiers comprised of Wilson (Wedlock), Shaun Scott (Sean O’Neill), Rohan Ware (Brian Ware), Rebecca Van Asch (Lynsey Clarke), Mike Kernaghan (Tony Grantham), Sean Thompson (Colin Lowery), Finbar McGuigan (Bradley Down) and Vincent Chia (Geoff Clarke).

2020 Stewart Buttar Burnside Pairs champions Corey Wedlock and Aaron Wilson. Photo: Arjan van Hasselt.

Once again, Scott and O’Neill, who not only won last year’s event, but between them have featured in six finals, demonstrated their class and consistency, defeating the promising Stokes Valley duo of McGuigan and Down in a crucial decider in the final round of post-section play.

However, neither Scott or O’Neill, had any answers for the rampant form of Wilson and Wedlock, both Australian’s collectively putting on a bowls clinic and outplaying the defending champions in every aspect of the fixture.

Racing out to a 10-3 lead after seven ends, things began looking dim for the Kiwi pairing, and so it was to prove – both Wilson and Wedlock showing their finesse and killer instinct, closing the game out at 17-4 after 11 ends, with Scott and O’Neill choosing to concede – acknowledging the unbeatable form of their opposition.

The win marked Wilson’s first win at the event in four attempts, while for Wedlock, it was his second win in as many appearances at Burnside – having previously won the event with Scott Thulborn in 2017.

Meanwhile, fellow Australian’s Jayden Christie and Carl Healey were also in dominant form across rinks, putting Marlborough pairing Sanjhe Prasad and Scott Mansfield on the back foot in a 10-5 win, taking out Division Two and completing the Australian onslaught in the main event.

In other results, Burnside club mates Richard Hocking and Barry Williams defeated Chris Lowe and Jordan King to win Division Three, Kevin Gore and Paul Beecroft outclassed South Canterbury duo Tom Taiaroa and Travis Cook, 10-1 in Division Four, Ken Walker and Phil Austin got over the line against Mike and Matt Small in Division Five and Terry Stewart and Mark Lewis edged Methven pairing Craig Carter and Tim White, 6-3 to round out the action in Division Six.

The Bayleys Stewart Buttar Burnside Pairs will return in 2021.

Results at a Glance
2020 Stewart Buttar Burnside Pairs, Christchurch

Division One
Aaron Wilson, Corey Wedlock (Australia)

Division Two
Jayden Christie, Carl Healey (Australia)

Division Three
Richard Hocking, Barry Williams (Burnside)

Division Four
Kevin Gore, Paul Beecroft (Burnside)

Division Five
Ken Walker, Phil Austin (Composite)

Division Six
Terry Stewart, Mark Lewis (Fendalton)

by Sam Morton