By Michael Burgess
When Mark Sarginson lined up for the start of the Arawa Optional Classic Fours last month, he recalled one of his Dad’s favourite mantras.
Sarginson, who was skip of the Ohope team at the tournament, spent many years playing alongside his late father, picking up many valuable tips.
“Dad was a really good bowler, did well in a lot of tournaments and it was great to play with him,” said Sarginson.
“He always used to say, to play good bowls and win a tournament you need ‘line, length and a bit of luck’. I was thinking of that for sure – you always need to have a bit of luck on your shoulders. Sometimes one bowl can end up making the difference across a whole tournament.”
Sarginson and his team (John Chelley, Steve Green and Warwick Wickham) are some of the most well-travelled bowlers in the region. They play different events around the area and the Ohope contingent enjoy the chance to play on grass.
“At Ohope we have a couple of artificial carpets,” says Sarginson. “They are nice, but obviously don’t play as well as grass.”
Sarginson explains that the club used to have a green, but the club’s land by the sea got too valuable. It was sold, and the club moved inland, with a couple of AstroTurf rinks.
The team was looking forward to another event at Arawa, after finishing runners-up in 2020.
“It’s a great tournament, one of the top clubs in the area and beautiful greens,” says Sarginson. “And we always make the most of it; we rent a house, a few beers, some tall tales.”
Sarginson’s team lost their opening game in section play but recovered well on the first day.
“We got all the rest,” said Sarginson. “We had a good rhythm”.
At the completion of day one they were on top, and the men from Ohope maintained that ranking after the second day of qualification, with a draw and three wins. That made them top seeds for the final eight playoff on the last day, where each team plays two fours and two pairs matches.
“You take your points through,” said Sarginson. “Which are then doubled up on the last day. We were top by a point, so we knew we had a bit of a target on our backs.”
The opening fours contest was a cagey affair, ending in a 6-6 draw, which put the pressure ahead of the pairs battles.
The first was claimed 19-17 over another Ohope combination, before Mt Manganui squeezed home 13-11 in the other.
That meant a ‘win or bust’ equation for the final Fours match against Kensington.
It produced a climax worthy of the occasion, which fittingly enough came down to ‘line, length and a bit of luck’.
“We played well but we also lucked out,” said Sarginson. “It went down to the last bowl. We managed to move the jack, then drew another bowl to get the another shot.”
That gave Ohope an 8-7 win, which was enough to seal the overall tournament victory, by a single point over Mt Manganui, with Mairangi Bay another point back in third.
“We were a bit surprised,” said Sarginson. “We are an average sort of team. But we enjoy playing together and our styles and personalities complement each other.”
Organiser Kathy Webb was thrilled with the tournament. It attracted a full 24-strong field (though one combination was a late withdrawal), with teams from Auckland, Wellington and around the Bay of Plenty region as well as seven representing the host club.
It was the 46th edition of the event, though the optional format was brought in four years ago after previously being a men’s tournament.
Webb expressed special thanks to principal sponsor Hyundai, as well as the local businesses that had supported the event.
By Michael Burgess