Written by Grant Hassall for stuff.co.nz
History was created in both pairs finals of the New Zealand Bowls Championships when Gary Lawson (Sumner) and Neville Rodda (Victoria) claimed the men’s title and Ashleigh Jeffcoat (Frankton Junction) and Dale Rayner (Johnsonville) took out the women’s crown in New Plymouth on Sunday morning.
Lawson took the all-time record for the most titles won by a man at the New Zealand bowls championships with his 11th, while Jeffcoat became the youngest from either gender to win a title at just 17.
Lawson and Rodda held the upper hand throughout their match against Nelson’s Ali and Neville Forsyth, taking the match 16-11.
Jeffcoat and Rayner pulled away from the Wanganui’s Denise Taylor and Dot Belliss from the game’s mid-point to triumph 19-12.
Rodda, an Australian who has lived in the capital for the last two years, set up his skip Lawson for victory with a dominated performance off the front.
“I’m ecstatic,” Lawson said. “We went out there and just wanted to keep drawing shots. But we also wanted to leave a few holes.” Lawson acknowledged how tough a final it had been and noted that Ali Forsyth is currently the best attacking player in the world.
Lawson and Rodda also had more than share of luck but consistently picked up ones and twos and led 12-3 after 10 ends, with the gap being too much for the Forsyths to overcome.
In the women’s final, Taylor and Belliss led 8-6 after eight ends, but dropped consecutive threes to fall behind.
The title was a first for both Jeffcoat and Rayner, with the latter falling just short in her previous two attempts.
Later in the day, there was a sensational finish to the men’s singles final when Dean Elgar of New Plymouth’s West End club came from 20-14 down to beat Stokes Valley’s Blake Signal 21-20.
Elgar out-drew his opponent on the final two ends, taking a four and a three to clinch his biggest ever win.
In the women’s singles final, Carlton Cornwall’s Selina Goddard was untroubled in beating Aramoho’s Reen Stratford 21-9.
On Saturday, Peter Belliss (Aramoho) and Jo Edwards (United) skipped their respective teams to take out the fours finals.
Belliss, skipping Lance Tasker, Blake Signal and Richard Girvan, were too strong for Dean Elgar’s Taranaki side, winning the men’s final 23-9, while Edwards, skipping Tayla Bruce, Kirsten Edwards and Val Smith, beat Wellington’s Lisa White 22-11 in the finale.
At a glance
Results of the New Zealand bowls championships
Women’s singles, semifinals: R Stratford (Aramoho) 21 C Bien (St Heliers) 15, S Goddard (Carlton Cornwall) 21 K Inch (Oxford WMC) 15.
Final: Goddard 21 Stratford 9.
Women’s pairs, final: D Rayner (Johnsonville)/A Jeffcoat (Frankton Junction) 19 D Taylor/D Belliss (Wanganui) 12.
Women’s fours, final: T Bruce (Burnside)/K Edwards (Burnside)/V Smith (Merrylands)/J Edwards (United) 22 K Hemingway (Naenae)/N Russell (Clayton)/J Macaw (Naenae)/L White (Naenae) 11.
Men’s singles, last 16: M Solomon (Eastbourne) 21 G Lawson (Sumner) 12, R Girvan (Onehunga) 21 M Bradshaw (Onehunga & Districts) 18.
Quarterfinals: B Signal (Stokes Valley) 21 R Martin (Victoria) 16, D Elgar (West End) 21 P Sorensen (Napier) 12, Solomon 21 Girvan 18.
Semifinals: Signal 21 E Pattillo (Tauranga South) 15, Elgar 21 Solomon 16.
Final: Elgar 21 Signal 20.
Men’s pairs, quarterfinals: C Gawith/K Garrett (Coromandel) 17 C Le Lievre (Glenroy)/R Stevens (Waikiwi) 12, G Lawson (Sumner)/N Rodda (Victoria) 21 S Harrison (Balmoral)/D Ball (Mt Wellington) 4, R Park/A Dickson (Wanganui) 18 K Deegan/P Deegan (Opunake) 13, A Forsyth (Nelson)/N Forsyth (Stoke) 19 L Guy/J Kydd (Victoria) 10.
Semifinals: Lawson/Rodda 21 Gawith/Garrett 9, Forsyth/Forsyth 17 Park/Dickson 14.
Final: Lawson/Rodda 16 Forsyth/Forsyth 11.
Men’s fours, semifinals: L Tasker (Tauranga)/B Signal (Stokes Valley)/R Girvan (Onehunga)/P Belliss (Aramoho) 21 S Curtin (Victoria)/L Fitness (Hastings)/R Hocking (Burnside)/D Drummond (Hastings) 18, J Garrud (West End)/N Candy (West End)/G O’Sullivan (Inglewood)/D Elgar (West End) 19 J Young (Hastings)/P Titcombe (Clayton)/T Wood (Clayton)/A Forsyth (Nelson) 17. Final: Tasker/Signal/Girvan/Belliss 23 Garrud/Candy/O’Sullivan/Elgar 9.