Mixed fortunes for defending champions in Central Otago


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Sandra Keith, Clare Hendra, Selina Smith and Tayla Bruce after winning the Summerset National Fours at Mt Maunganui in 2020.

The reigning women’s champions are on the brink of an early exit at the Summerset National Fours in Central Otago.

Sandra Keith, Clare Hendra, Selina Smith and Tayla Bruce won only one of their opening three games on day one of section play at Clyde Bowling Club, meaning they need to win all three of their remaining qualifying games at Roxburgh to secure a place in the knock-out rounds.

Keith lost 14-13 to Ange Francis in the first round, before going down 20-15 to Tanya Wheeler in the second.

They then kept their title defence alive with a hard-fought 17-13 win over Noreen Paul.

Jo Edwards’ fancied four also lost its opening game by just a shot at Alexandra before bouncing back with comprehensive wins in the next two rounds to keep them on course for a place in post-section play.

They require two wins at Hawea tomorrow (Friday, February 26) and are in the same position as other contending quartets skipped by Wendy Jensen, Sharon Sims and Dale Rayner.

Five-time champion Mandy Boyd requires just one more victory at Roxburgh to secure progression to the knock-out rounds after her four won all three of its games on the opening day at Clyde.

They are one of just six unbeaten women’s combinations in section play.

Twelve men’s fours were a perfect three from three on the first day of qualifying headed by reigning champions Gary Lawson, Jamie Hill, Caleb Hope and Sheldon Bagrie-Howley.

Lawson’s quartet were tested in the second round at Alexandra , eventually overcoming Iain MacCallum 18-15.

Like Boyd they require one more win at Roxburgh tomorrow to qualify for post-section play.

Young skips Seamus Curtin and Aiden Takarua have also made impressive starts.

Curtin raced to 24-14 and 27-12 wins in the opening two rounds at Alexandra before beating Craig Merrilees 17-10 in the third round to eliminate the Southlander from contention.

Takarua is also three from three after relatively straightforward 19-10, 22-12 and 19-9 victories at Hawea.

Blackjacks Andrew Kelly and Mike Kernaghan need to win two of their remaining three games to advance to the knock-out rounds after both fell to surprise defeats in their third games on day one of qualifying.

Kelly was beaten 17-10 by Maurice Symes at Roxburgh, while at Omakau, Kernaghan went down 17-15 to Rob Ashton.

Last year’s pairs champion Ray Martin can’t afford another slip up if he is to progress to post-section play after losing two of his first three games at Roxburgh.

Section play will resume at all 11 host clubs at 8:30am tomorrow, with the knock-out rounds to start at Alexandra Bowling Club on Saturday.

The winners in both the men’s and women’s pairs will be found on Sunday.