If there was an award for consistency at Burnside in recent weeks, it would surely have to go to Auckland’s Tony Grantham. Grantham, after losing two national finals in as many days, combined with former Blackjack Mike Kernaghan to sweep the field at the prestigious Harcourts Grenadier Stu Buttar Pairs, both showing clinical shot play to remain unbeaten throughout.
Kernaghan, who last year stepped down from his international playing career, has joined the New Zealand coaching ranks and will lead the charge at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. As the high performance head coach, Kernaghan would have no doubt been keeping a keen eye on the performances of those in the frame, not least of all a front row seat and first view experience of Grantham’s play.
A longstanding event, the invitational pairs format welcomes a star-studded line-up to the Burnside complex every year, with pairings featuring a host of top past, present and future international stars, among high performing provincial representatives from all pockets of the country.
The three-day event got underway on Friday, with teams playing four games of section play, one further game on Saturday and then two rounds of post-section before Sunday’s business end action commences. In a slight change of format, the top two teams in each section advanced through to the Main Event, with the other teams squaring off in Division 2 and Division 3 respectively.
Following five rounds of section play and three games of round-robin post-section, the semi- finalists emerged. Joining Kernaghan and Grantham were Methven duo Craig Carter and Jeff Nowell, Canterbury composite Rodney Greaney and Paul Matheson and father and son combination Matt and Mike Small.
The semi-finals action saw Kernaghan and Grantham keep their run alive, clawing back a small deficit against Carter and Nowell and holding out for the win 18-16 over fifteen ends. The other semi-final saw Greaney and Matheson, beaten quarter-finalists at the Summerset Nationals, edge a thrilling contest opposite the Small pairing, 14-12.
However, it was one way traffic in the final, with Kernaghan and Grantham executing their punishing draw play and proving too strong for the Elmwood Park and Halswell composite, closing out the 2022 honours in fine style, 18-6.
Meanwhile, Kevin Gore and Warren Park proved decisive in Division Two, while fellow Burnside duo Hamish Wilson and Paul Beecroft claimed Division Three, defeating Adrian Robins and Bryce Young 11-9 in the final.
Reflecting on the weekend, tournament director Alan Bryce thanked everyone involved and branded the event as a great success.
“Our thanks has to go to our major sponsor John Phillips of Harcourts Grenadier Real Estate and to all those volunteers that make the event what it is.
While we didn’t have the Australians this year due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, it was fantastic to welcome players from 14 centres across the country, representing 46 clubs,” Bryce said.
“It was an exceptional standard of bowls and we look forward to next year.”
Results at a Glance
2022 Stu Buttar Burnside Pairs, Christchurch
Mike Kernaghan and Tony Grantham def Rodney Greaney and Paul Matheson, 18-6
Kevin Gore and Warren Park def Andy McLean and Brent McEwan, 15-10
Hamish Wilson and Paul Beecroft def Adrian Robins and Bryce Young, 11-9