Mike Galloway (foreground), delivering his champions speech at Bowls Hastings.
Reigning New Zealand Men’s Singles champion Mike Galloway combined with Royal Oak clubmates Martin Dixon and Gavin Brown to take out the National Champion of Champion Triples silverware on Sunday, overcoming a strong field in Hastings.
Continuing the impressive run of form for the Victoria Club on the national stage, Wellington Bowler of the Year Sarah Taukamo joined forces with Helen King and Robyn Rintoul to claim top honour in the women’s action, overcoming a formidable challenge from the Dunedin trio Judy Robertson, Jean Young and Beth Brown – with the latter trio representing the Taieri Bowling Club.
Hosted on the carpeted rinks at Bowls Hastings, more than 40 of the country’s top performing provincial sides tried their hand at closing out a national title, though with some big names falling by the wayside in the early rounds of post-section, the title run remained wide open to the last few ends in each of the men’s and women’s final’s fixture.
The men’s action saw Kaikorai’s Nigel Birkbeck, Jonty Horwell and Kelvin Buchanan rue a poor start to proceedings in the final, with Galloway and Co getting an early foothold in the match and extending their lead out to 10-2 after eight of the 15 ends.
Despite Birkbeck’s best efforts to rally his troops, such was the dominance of Brown off the front, shots were hard to come by and the Galloway line-up held off a late charge from the Dunedin hopefuls to take the trophy 14-10.
“Thanks to Bowls New Zealand for running a great tournament, and to Bowls Hastings for the venue,” Galloway smiled.
“We’re pretty lucky to have a venue like this around the country, it must be appreciated and it’s a great surface to play on. (In that final), we were going pretty good to be fair, and Gavin was playing like a machine . . . he was going outstand and Martin was going good too.
“It’s good to win it, thank you to all.”
Robyn Rintoul, Sarah Taukamo & Helen King
In other results, Taukamo directed play well, controlling the scoreboard for the vast majority of the fixture, with King and Rintoul laying a solid platform early doors. A comfortable lead saw the Wellington combination maintain bowls on the head, clearly focusing on second shot as their strategy and minimizing any opposition count to a single shot only.
The win rounded out a standout season for Taukamo, who earlier in the year combined with clubmate Laurie Guy to take out the New Zealand Mixed Pairs in Alexandra, before going on to win the Open Wanganui Pairs with Rintoul, sparking somewhat of a purple patch of form in taking out the Open Wellington Triples, Champion of Champion Triples, Champion of Champion Fours and securing a Gold Star for five Wellington titles in the process.
“It’s been a great year for me, I’ve had some great players with me,” Taukamo said.
“(On Victoria Club claiming another national title) . . . the club will be extremely happy, they’ve been such great supporters of us.”
Other post-section qualifiers included Elmwood Park’s Gary Lawson, Kelvin Scott and Nathan Glasson, Counties Manukau representatives David Clark, Roger Andrews and Garry Coppins and Wellington’s Rob Ashton, Ross Gillett and Wayne Coleman. Qualifiers in the women’s field included Canterbury’s Liz Rossiter, Jenny Eddy and Bonnie Hawker, Waikato’s Keli Alefaio, Bev Corbett and Debbie White and local hopes Lyn Stowe, Glenys Riddell and Pam Rowlands.
The final National Champion of Champions’ action will commence later this week at Pukekohe, with the top fours’ line-ups vying for national honours from Friday 23 July through to Sunday.