The celebrations have long been overdue for Thames Valley on the national stage, but the efforts of Adam Haywood, Matt Johnson, Jason Prout and Mark Mathews have put a stop to that lengthy wait, combining to take out the National Champion of Champion Fours silverware at Pukekohe on Sunday.
In the women’s action, a second National Champion of Champion title is heading the way of Auckland’s Carlton Cornwall, this time with the star-studded quartet of Karen Hema, Linda Ralph, Lisa Prideaux and Judi Wong edging their way across the line to claim victory in a thrilling finale opposite Takapuna.
Hosted at the Pukekohe Cosmopolitan Club, more than 40 of the country’s top performing sides took to the carpeted rinks to round out the last of the action for the National Champion of Champion events for the 2020/21 season.
The men’s final saw the Haywood skipped line-up take a comfortable grip on proceedings, holding back a strong charge from Northland hopefuls Ian Bowick, Dean McMurchy, Bruce Horscroft and John Anderson, storming to the title 16-11.
Haywood, formerly of North Harbour’s Browns Bay, was in commanding form as he spurred his side to the top of the podium, edging Counties Manukau representative David Clark and Manawatu’s Shane Rogers in the quarter and semi-finals respectively.
Speaking after the win, Haywood, who has previously gone close to winning a national pairs title with former Blackjack Tony Grantham, was delighted with the win for Thames Valley.
“It’s nice to get a New Zealand title under the belt,” Haywood smiled.
“Several years ago, I went close (with Tony Grantham in the pairs) . . . we needed to win the last game. We obviously didn’t but made up for it today with the Thames Valley boys. It’s a great facility and we’ve been well looked after.”
Across rinks, there were match-turning bowls played at several stages of the fixture, with both Hema and opposing skip Wendy Jensen executing some top-level conversion shots to keep their teams in the hunt.
A telling bowl from Hema on the eighth end saw the Auckland-based skip run a shot bowl off the head for four shots, extending the lead to 10-5. Not to be outdone, Jensen and her Takapuna charges of Anne Dorreen, Trish Hardie and Skye Renes responded to the set-back with a three of their own, reducing the deficit to two shots with six ends to play.
A see-saw battle played out on the board in the closing ends, eventually with the two sides drawing level at 14-all with one end left to play. Two last ditch attempts to run the shot bowl off the head saw Jensen’s efforts go astray, gifting the title to Hema, Ralph, Prideaux and Wong to conclude a memorable finale.
Other qualifiers in the women’s field included (skips names only), Margaret O’Connor (Central Otago), Sharon Sims (Manawatu), Barbara McGregor (Nelson), Sarah Scott (Dunedin), Jenny Anderson (Canterbury), Tanya Wheeler (Wairarapa) and local hopes Sharon Siegruhn (Counties Manukau), while in the men’s action Terry Osment (Waikato), Steve Sanders (Southland), Garry Muriwai (Wairarapa), Clint Park (Wanganui) and Marlborough prospects Scott Mansfield advanced through qualifying.
Reflecting back on the last four weeks of national stardom, the following teams took out top honour in their respective disciplines;
Robbie Bird (Naenae) Val Smith (Nelson)
Leif Selby, James Williams (Carlton Cornwall)
Olivia Bloomfield, Paris Baker (New Lynn)
Mike Galloway, Martin Dixon, Gavin Brown (Royal Oak) Sarah Taukamo, Helen King, Robyn Rintoul (Victoria)
Adam Haywood, Matt Johnson, Jason Prout, Mark Mathews (Thames Valley)
Karen Hema, Linda Ralph, Lisa Prideaux, Judi Wong (Carlton Cornwall)
Congratulations to all winners and finalists.