Auckland’s composite duo Mark Hall and Cook Island’s bowls representative David Akaruru joined elite company last weekend, winning the Bert Sutcliffe Retirement Village Birkenhead $5,500 Men’s Pairs and lifting the coveted Champions Cup for their efforts.
Hosted by Birkenhead Bowling Club, the event is now in its eighth year and attracts top talent from throughout North Harbour, Auckland and surrounding areas, as 32 teams seek their share of the $5,500 prize pool and attempt to pocket the $1500 winners’ cheque.
Despite some early showers in the opening round, the weather did little to dampen the spirits of the competitors as the pairings went to work with the aim of qualifying in the top half of the draw heading in to day two.
At the conclusion of qualifying on day one, reigning champions Adam Haywood and Scott Cottrell looked to be in fine form as the only unbeaten team, while other star studded combinations such as Hall and Akaruru, Bowls3Five Royal Oak Rockets’ Martin Dixon and Mike Galloway, former internationals Jamie Hill and Tony Grantham and local favourites Evan Tomas and Lionel Drew, among others, comfortably progressed with three wins from four starts.
Narrowly missing the cut, Petar Sain and Vladimir Marsic, Mike Bradshaw and Neville Hill, Steve Cox and Grant Goodwin and Mark Rumble and Nigel Drew, among others – with their omissions making for an exciting Consolation event in the lower tier.
The quarter-finals saw the surprise exit of Hill and Grantham, with Hall and Akaruru edging past them in a thrilling extra end encounter, while Cottrell and Haywood kept their tournament hopes alive, also rounding out an extra end victory opposite last year’s runner-up Bryan Chapman. Other fixtures saw Birkenhead’s Tomas and Drew sweep aside fellow club mates Brian Wilson and Shane Gibson, while Dixon and Galloway proved too strong for Orewa’s Murray Vallance and Colin Rogan, posting a comfortable 14-4 win.
The semi-finals saw Cottrell and Haywood’s hopes of back-to-back titles slashed, with Hall and Akaruru advancing to the final with a three-shot margin 11-8, while Dixon and Galloway made light work of the Tomas/Drew pairing, progressing through in commanding fashion, 19-4.
With all former champions out of the competition and sidelined, the final result would now mean new names on the Champions Cup, with Akaruru and Hall, who plays out of the Otahuhu Railway Club, clearly up for the challenge as they raced out to a comfortable 8-1 lead in the 14-end finale.
Throughout the final, Hall and Akaruru looked to be the more consistent of the sides, with the composite pairing getting the better of Akaruru’s higher profiled clubmates, extending the lead at every opportunity before Dixon and Galloway inevitably conceded defeat with two ends to play.
In other results, the well-performed Auckland pairing of Bradshaw and Hill secured the Consolation spoils, defeating John Gray and Steve Beel in a solitary shot victory, 9-8, while
With all results found and the 2019 champions crowned, all eyes will now turn to The Good Home Birkenhead Women’s Pairs, as the Bowls NZ endorsed Summer of Bowls programme rolls on and teams vye for a slice of the $6,500 prize pool up for grabs later this month.
Results at a Glance
Bert Sutcliffe Retirement Village Birkenhead Men’s Pairs, Birkenhead
Champion: David Akaruru, Mark Hall (Royal Oak)
R/Up: Martin Dixon, Mike Galloway (Royal Oak)
Champion: Mike Bradshaw, Neville Hill
R/Up: John Gray, Steve Beel (Bay of Plenty)