Kiwi victory in Trans-Tasman PBA Challenge

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PBA NZ representatives Andrew Kelly, from left, Dean Drummond, Craig Merrilees, Elliot Mason and Craig Tinker are all smiles after a hard fought trans-tasman victory.

The Scotty’s Meats NZ PBA team were victorious mid-week at the Mandurah Bowling Club in Perth over the Australian PBA winning the finals two matches to one and scoring a resounding first ever win in the round robin series leading up to the finals.

The finals went down to the wire with the previously unbeaten Andrew Kelly going down in his match against Australia’s Blake Nairn 9-4, 6-5, NZ’s Craig Merrilees needing his last bowl in both sets to outlast Kyle McIlroy 10-8, 9-7, and the Elliot Mason (NZ) v Dean McWhinney (Aus) match going to the third end of the tiebreak before Mason prevailed 9-4, 2-9, 2-1 handing the Challenge to NZ.

The tone was set in the opening round on Tuesday with the Kiwis winning all five matches and they continued on to win each of the five rounds in a convincing display by the NZ PBA’s top ranked players.

But thanks to the format where the best three Aussies and best three kiwis play off in the final Challenge, the event went right down to the last bowl. Kelly who now travels to the Gold Coast to feature in Bowls NZ’s Trans-Tasman Test team dominated the round-robin with five wins, followed by Mason (7.5 sets) and Merrilees (7 sets) winning four, and Drummond and Tinker three. Nairn and McWhinney accounted for all of Australia’s match wins.

This year’s Challenge was the first that the Australian team was based on Australian PBA rankings, and the first time the popular Western Australian branch had been involved thanks to the drive of former Dunedin PBA player Dave Rankin.

Next year’s Challenge will be played in New Zealand PBA’s most popular venue in Dunedin. The NZ PBA now trail the Australian PBA 4 wins to 6 in the 10 years the event has been played.

Kelly as the best performed kiwi will be invited into the Scotty’s Meat NZ PBA team for 2020, joining the 2019 year-end top ranked members Ray Martin on his debut, Craig Tinker, Murray Glassey and Mason. Merrilees, Mason, Drummond and Tinker now travel to the Victorian Open in Shepparton and will be joined there for singles, pairs and triples play by Brent Thomson and Duane White based on 2018 rankings and availability.


Round 1: Craig Merrilees (NZ) bt Dean McWhinney (Aus) 10-2, 7-11, 2-0; Andrew Kelly (NZ) bt Blake Nairn (Aus) 12-4, 13-3; Dean Drummond (NZ) bt Kyle McIlroy (Aus) 8-8, 6-6, 2-0; Craig Tinker (NZ) bt Ben Walsh (Aus) 8-12, 11-4, 2-1; Elliot Mason (NZ) bt Pam Chalmers (Aus) 10-8, 8-8. NZ won round 5-0

Round 2: Tinker (NZ) bt Chalmers 14-2, 7-9, 2-0; McWhinney (Aus) bt Mason (NZ) 6-11, 13-4, 2-0; Nairn (Aus) bt Merrilees (NZ) 6-6, 8-6; Kelly (NZ) bt McIlroy (Aus) 9-4, 2-17, 2-0; Drummond (NZ) bt Walsh (Aus) 8-6, 9-9. NZ won round 3-2

Round 3: Kelly (NZ) bt Walsh (Aus) 8-7, 11-7; Drummond (NZ) bt Chalmers (Aus) 12-2, 9-7; McWhinney (Aus) bt Tinker (NZ) 6-6, 8-5; Mason (NZ) bt Nairn (Aus) 7-10, 13-7, 2-0; Merrilees (NZ) bt McIlroy (Aus) 7-3, 8-8. NZ won round 4-1

Round 4: Mason (NZ) bt McIlroy (Aus) 9-3, 9-6; Merrilees (NZ) bt Walsh (Aus) 6-4, 11-6; Kelly (NZ) bt Chalmers (Aus) 10-5, 9-5; McWhinney (Aus) bt Drummond (NZ) 11-3, 7-8, 2-0; Nairn (Aus) bt Tinker (NZ) 13-1, 11-8. NZ won round 3-2

Round 5: Nairn (Aus) bt Drummond (NZ) 7-6, 6-6; Tinker (NZ) bt McIlroy (Aus) 11-4, 4-10, 2-1; Mason (NZ) bt Walsh (Aus) 7-5, 10-7; Merrilees (NZ) bt Chalmers (Aus) 10-5, 6-4; Kelly (NZ) bt McWhinney (Aus) 8-7, 8-8. NZ won round 4-1

Finals: #1 Aus v #1 NZ: Blake Nairn (Aus) bt Andrew Kelly (Aus) 9-4, 6-5. #2 Aus v #2 NZ: Elliot Mason (NZ) bt Dean McWhinney (Aus) 9-4, 2-9, 2-1; #3 Aus v #3 NZ: Craig Merrilees (NZ) bt Kyle McIlroy (Aus) 10-8, 9-7. NZ won Challenge 2-1.