Some of the country’s leading provincial players will be in action next month as the inaugural Bowls New Zealand Champion of Champions events take place at top indoor venues throughout New Zealand.
The new events will see centre club champions go head-to-head to find the best of the best this season, with the men’s and women’s singles, pairs and fours titles all up for grabs.
Across all events, only the West Coast have opted to have no representation, with all other centres sending their local champion in at least one or more of the disciplines.
Leading the charge in the men’s singles will be New Zealand Development representative Sheldon Bagrie-Howley, who was in impressive form at the recent Australian Open, though will have his work cut out to fend off a strong title chase from former national singles champions Dean Elgar, Pat Houlahan and Tony Grantham respectively.
Other contenders to watch in this discipline will include the ferociously talented Aiden Takarua, who possesses an attacking game that would trouble any opposition, along with Allenton’s Rodney Greaney, Mt Maunganui’s Steve Beel, Waimate’s Adrian Robins and Andersons Bay’ hopeful Paul King, who will all fancy their chances at taking out the silverware.
The women’s singles will see reigning national women’s singles champion Debbie White take to the green as the bookmakers’ favourite, though spectators can expect some tough feature matches from former New Zealand representative Clare Hendra and current Blackjack Kirsten Edwards, who played a key part in the Asia Pacific Championship Gold medal effort from the New Zealand women’s quartet on the Gold Coast last week.
Keeping them honest will be the vastly experienced Wynette McLauchlan of the Clinton Club in South Otago, while Blenheim’s Jan Gallop, Taieri’s Beth Brown, Auckland Esther Eu and others, will also likely be among the final’s action.
The men’s and women’s singles will be held at the Naenae Bowling Club in Lower Hutt from July 5 to 7.
A week later, the men’s and women’s pairs champions will descend on the big blue carpet at the Dunedin Lawn Bowls Stadium, with some formidable combinations lining-up throughout the discipline.
Bagrie-Howley will team up with fellow Gore clubmate Caleb Hope to present a tough Southland pairing, while competition will come from the likes of Elmwood Park’s Stephen Ditfort and Ian Rule, Alexandra’s Pat Houlahan and Roger O’Brien and Dunedin’s Horwell brothers, Jonty and Callum, to name only a few.
Across rinks, it will be hard to look too far past two-time national women’s pairs semi-finalists and current New Zealand high performance squad members Sarah Scott and Bronwyn Stevens, though the Southlanders can count on fierce match-ups opposite Auckland’s Catherine Bien and Ling Qu, Omarunui’s Robyn Wallace and Jan Henderson, Kahutia’s Dayvinia Mills and Marie Wright and South Cantabrian duo Mata Frankum and Julie Robins – all looking to make their mark on the national stage.
With the men’s and women’s singles and pairs champions found, all action will then turn to the men’s and women’s fours, with both events to be held in separate locations towards the end of July.
Heading into the women’s fours to be held at the Frankton Railway Bowling Club in Hamilton from July 19 to 21, the Carlton Cornwall four of Ashleigh Jeffcoat, Selina Goddard, Rebecca Jelley and Kimberley Hemingway look to be starting favourites for the title, though with teams skipped by Tanya Wheeler, Jan Barclay, Sue Cantwell and current Blackjack Wendy Jensen, also a member of the gold medal women’s fours line-up, the race for the silverware will be anyone’s for the taking.
Back on the green for the men’s fours and rounding out the month’s action, Takarua will return with fellow Bowls3Five teammates Alex Reed, Steve Hoeft and Nick Thompson from the Pt Chevalier Club, as will Grantham, who along with his Browns Bay clubmates Brendan Kelly, Sean Mulholland and Denis Bawden will back themselves heading into the event.
Other combinations to watch will include Te Rangi’s Steve Sanders, Jason Heffer, Earl Doidge and Simon Swale, Wanganui’s Ray Park, Kapiti Coast stalwart Ray Boffa and Motueka’s quartet of David Currie, Craig Fowler, Mike Baines and Tony Fowler, representing the typically high-performing Nelson centre.
For more information and up to date results, be sure to follow the events on the Bowls New Zealand website, www.bowlsnewzealand.co.nz
EVENTS AT A GLANCE
Bowls New Zealand Champion of Champions Men’s & Women’s Singles – (Naenae Bowling Club, Lower Hutt)
Bowls New Zealand Champion of Champions Mens & Women’s Pairs – (Dunedin Lawn Bowls Stadium, Dunedin)
Bowls New Zealand Champion of Champions Women’s Fours – (Frankton Railway Bowling Club, Hamilton)
Bowls New Zealand Champion of Champions Men’s Fours -(Bowls Hastings, Hawkes Bay)