The ninth edition of the annual Trans-Tasman Challenge between the Australian and New Zealand Professional Bowls Associations gets underway tonight at the Deer Park Bowling Club in Melbourne. The tournament will feature five preliminary rounds where the five New Zealanders will play the five Australians culminating in finals matches Thursday night where the first, second and third best competitors from each team face off in a best of three challenge.

The Scotty’s Meats NZ team is based on the 2017 year end NZ PBA rankings and features the newly crowned NZ number one Craig Merrilees (Southland), last year’s best performed Trans-Tasman Challenge kiwi Bart Robertson (North Harbour), rising under-25 stars Dean Drummond (Hawkes Bay) and Bradley Down (Wellington), and the next most consistent performer on the NZ circuit during 2016 and 2017 Paul King (Dunedin).

Missing from action are Murray Glassey (Hawkes Bay) who travelled to the Scottish Open in Perth, Scotland last week, and Andrew Kelly (Canterbury) who was picked by Bowls NZ to travel to Hong Kong this week. Both will be back in the team next year along with Merrilees and Drummond. Robertson, Down and King will need to be the best performed kiwi over the next two nights to keep their places in the team for 2019 otherwise the door will open for Craig Tinker (Southland) to make his way into the side.

The Australian PBA were unable to call on the stars in action this week in the Bowls Premier League in Queensland but will be competitive all the same featuring Brendan Gallagher, Brett Mahoney, Bryce Young, Jamie Pearce and Curtis Hanley.

Matches commence Wednesday 14 November at 6.30pm, 9pm and 11pm NZDT and continue Thursday 15 November at 3.30pm, 5.30pm and 8pm. The Scotty’s Meats NZ PBA team will then move up-state for the Victorian Open in Shepparton for the next week. Martinborough-based Scotty’s Meats are in the fourth year of sponsoring the team.


Bart Robertson

Centre: North Harbour

Joined PBA: 2001

Current NZ Rank: 164th=

Career High NZ Rank: 3rd (2016)

2018 PBA Singles Record: 0 wins 1 loss

Career PBA Highlights: Round of 32 2014 World Indoor Singles in Norfolk; Runner-up 2017 Australia v NZ PBA Challenge in Melbourne

Craig Merrilees

Centre: Southland

Joined PBA: 2004

Current NZ Rank: 1st

Career High NZ Rank: 1st (2018)

2018 PBA Singles Record: 18 wins 3 losses

Career PBA Highlights: 3rd 2015 Australia v NZ PBA Challenge in Sydney; 3 other Challenge appearances

Bradley Down

Centre: Wellington

Joined PBA: 2016

Current NZ Rank: 8th=

Career High NZ Rank: 4th (2017)

2018 PBA Singles Record: 8 wins 4 losses

Career PBA Highlights: Winner 2016 World Indoor Singles qualifier in Hastings; Runner-up 2017 World Indoor Singles & Pairs qualifiers in Hastings

Paul King

Centre: Dunedin

Joined PBA: 2014

Current NZ Rank: 37th

Career High NZ Rank: 5th (2017)

2018 PBA Singles Record: 4 wins 5 losses

Career PBA Highlights: Winner 2016 International Singles qualifier in Dunedin; Runner-up 2016 & 2017 World Indoor Pairs qualifiers in Dunedin

Dean Drummond

Centre: Hawkes Bay

Joined PBA: 2014

Current NZ Rank: 4th

Career High NZ Rank: 4th (2018)

2018 PBA Singles Record: 16 wins 4 losses

Career PBA Highlights: Winner 2014 Scottish Singles and 2017 & 2018 World Indoor Singles qualifiers in Hastings

Richard Corry
NZ PBA Chairman