Written by Dale Budge for nzherald.co.nz
Long-time Blackjack Gary Lawson became the most successful Kiwi bowler of all-time with victory in men’s pairs at the Bowls New Zealand National Championships in New Plymouth on Sunday.
The 51-year-old Lawson partnered with Nev Rodda to upstage father and son defending champions Ali and Neville Forsyth 16-10 in the decider to ensure Lawson added an 11th national title to his glittering career.
The two-time world champion won a maiden national title in the singles in 1989 before adding a second singles title in 1994. He won pairs titles in 1997, 2008, 2010 and now 2016 while he won gold in the fours in 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997 and 2004.
A stunning finish helped West End’s Dean Elgar snatch the men’s singles title in dramatic fashion 21-20 over Blackjacks rep Blake Signal of Stokes Valley. Signal appeared headed for his fifth national title when leading the match 20-18 but Elgar picked up three shots on the final end to steal victory and leave Signal wondering where it went wrong.
Earlier in the day Elgar beat Eastbourne’s Mike Solomon 21-18 while Signal enjoyed a 21-15 victory over Eric Pattillo from Tauranga South.
Aucklander Selina Goddard picked up her second career national title with a triumph in the women’s singles. The Carlton-Cornwall player eased to a 21-9 win over Reen Stratford of Aramoho in the gold medal match.
Goddard represented the Blackjacks at the 2012 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow but has been out of favour with the selectors in recent times; missing the recent World Championships in Christchurch. Her performance at these National Championships will surely have her in the frame with Sharon Sims taking over as head coach of the national side for the Blackjacks’ next assignment.
The composite duo of Dale Rayner and Ashleigh Jeffcoat took the women’s pairs title after defeating Wanganui’s Dot Belliss and Denise Taylor 19-12 in the gold medal match.
It was the first national title for both Rayner and Jeffcoat – the latter getting hers at the tender age of 17.
A number of younger players impressed during the tournament and it will be interesting to see whether the likes of Goddard, Tayla Bruce and Jeffcoat get rewarded by the national selectors.