Flying directly from Dunedin fresh from winning an unprecedented fourth North East Valley singles title, Stoke Thunder’s world champion Shannon McIlroy was on hand to guide his charges Peter Hodson and Selina Goddard (on debut), to a win opposite the Gore Rams.
In a closely fought contest, the Thunder took the match-up in straight sets to continue their march up the table, with another two fixtures scheduled for tomorrow night.
Continuing their winning ways, Gary Lawson’s Elmwood Park Saints proved too tough for the Royal Oak Rockets to overcome, with Mandy Boyd stepping up to second and Stephen Ditfort replacing Kelvin Scott – both Ditfort and Boyd providing a solid platform off the front and Lawson adding the finishing class to a vastly experienced line-up.
A straight sets win for the Saints now sees them sitting unbeaten at the top of the table, taking a win in all three starts thus far. Can the Rams be the first team to stop them in their tracks – find out next week when the Saints return to the New Lynn rink on Wednesday from 6pm.
A tie-break thriller got the evening’s action underway in fine style, with the Stoke Thunder proving too strong for the Parajacks at the final count. Set one was all about the consistency of the Thunder, coasting to a 12-0 win, before the Parajacks line-up of Carolyn Crawford, Mark Noble and Graham Skellern hit back with their own ammunition to take the second set, 6-5 and set-up a nail-biting deciding end.
With every expectation to do so, McIlroy drew the shot with his last bowl of the match – Skellern then unable to dislodge the shot and send the Thunder to the top of the table, equal leaders with the Elmwood Park Saints.
Game two saw a bowls clinic delivered by Gore Rams’ middle man Caleb Hope, the Rams youngster drawing a toucher or two on virtually every end of the game. Ably assisted by Ashleigh Jeffcoat and star skipper Sheldon Bagrie-Howley, the Stokes Valley Vipers’ trio of Euan Wong, Lisa White and James Cameron-Powell seemingly had no answers, bowing to a straight sets loss, 7-1, 10-1.
The final action of the night saw the Thunder unable to take advantage of the opportunity to move ahead of the Saints, a win opposite last year’s champions (Pt Chevalier Pirates) enough to achieve their goal. In a somewhat surprising move, which clearly paid dividends for the local side, the Pirates opted to replace their winning troops, Aiden Takarua, Alex Reed and Jenny Stockford making way for fellow club members Kevin Morris, Steve Hoeft and Jenny Jones.
And with a first class performance from Morris and company, the Thunder came unstuck against some breathtaking final bowls, with highlights for the Pirates including a four-shot collect on their Power Play to notch over eight shots and two superb final bowls from Morris on the tie-break end to give the Pirates their first win of the campaign.
Coming out with plenty of sting on night three, the Stokes Valley Vipers’ trio of Euan Wong, Lisa White and James Cameron-Powell were in no mood for uncertainty, striking two comprehensive wins in their double header opposite the Hinuera Heat and the Parajacks.
A first up win clearly set the platform for the Vipers, striding to a 5-4, 9-5 victory, before going on to back up their credentials against the Parajacks, 10-1, 5-3.
The final game of the evening saw the Hinuera Heat bounce back from defeat, taking down the new-look Pt Chevalier Pirates, who again introduced a new face to the mix in Nick Thompson, playing as middle man, alongside Jenny Jones and the much-talked about Kevin Morris at skip.
With Gerard Slattery, Paul Casey Jr and Sue Crackett taking to the rink in the absence of Debbie White, Bruce Milne and Kevin Smith for the Heat, Slattery’s side won the first set 6-4, though a reversal of fortunes in the second set seemed almost certain.
Trailing 7-0 after three ends in the second set, the match looked to be going to the tie break for all money – however back-to-back fours saw the Hinuera trio romp home in straight sets, 8-7 – leaving the Pirates to collect their thoughts.
Bowls3Five LIVE will return to your screens on Sky Sport NZ, Ch.59 next Tuesday 5th November, where the Gore Rams will take on the Pt Chevalier Pirates in a repeat of last year’s grand final.