Last year’s runner-up and promising New Zealand Development representative Sheldon Bagrie-Howley has bowed out of the Summerset National Fours, with his side of Mangere Makos trio Taylor Horn, Jordan King and Jesse Russell failing to secure the four required wins to progress.
Held across Wellington and the Hutt City regions, the Summerset National Championships will conclude at the Naenae tournament headquarters, with the finals expected to be played on Monday.
Bagrie-Howley’s combination, who last year had BPL Blackjack Seamus Curtin, suffered a shock defeat on the opening day, before going on to drop their first two games on day two at the hands of local skippers Adam Turner and Ken Brown.
Though, the pre-tournament favourites Gary Lawson and Mike Kernaghan appeared in unstoppable form, leaving nothing to chance as they coasted to qualification and remain unbeaten after six rounds. In fact, Lawson’s four of Jamie Hill, Shannon McIlroy and Tony Grantham exercised their dominance in the final round, putting paid to former New Zealand representative Terry Scott, 20-3, and consigning him to the stands for post-section. Scott’s side comprised Lawson’s former teammate Andrew Curtain, Ricky Cook and Gary Ruane, with the quartet bowing out with three wins.
In other results, Victoria’s Ray Martin and his composite line-up of fellow clubmates Richard Corry, Bradley Down and Finbar McGuigan continued where they left off on day one, securing the solitary win required on day two to put themselves among the mix for knockout play on Sunday, as did Takapuna’s Graham Skellern, who has Brett O’Riley, Bevan Smith and promising North Harbour youngster Darryl Read among his ranks.
Other unbeaten line-ups included the sides skipped by Tauranga’s Dan Dickison, Taranaki’s Dean Elgar and Southland’s Craig Merrilees, while Robin Jefferson, Wayne Coleman, Simon Poppleton, Dean Drummond, Pat Horgan and Brendon Gibson, among others, did enough to stay in the reckoning, rounding out a total of 29 qualifiers heading into the business end of the competition.
Adding to the excitement of the day, Mike Carroll’s Stokes Valley unit were the talk of the Island Bay’ clubrooms after collecting a six-count on the final end of their must win game. Down by five to Miramar’s David Shedlock, Carroll trailed the jack to make five, before capitalising on Shedlock’s short bowl effort and drawing the winning shot to claim six and push their way through to post-section.
Meanwhile, 2016 winners Mandy Boyd, Kirsten Edwards, Leigh Griffin and Angela Boyd bounced back from their second round loss, posting a clean sweep on day two to remain dangerous as the title race heats up, with Boyd hunting back-to-back victories after last year’s winning heroics.
Also alive and well in the title run, Queenstown’s Margaret O’Connor, reigning women’s singles champion Debbie White, Canterbury stalwart Bev Morel, Serena Matthews, Sue Hodges, Lisa White, Amy McIlroy and local hopeful Helen King teamed up with Sarah Taukamo, Nina De Munnik and Robyn Rintoul – all advancing to the final’s action, with 20 qualifiers vying for the silverware.
Other surprise exits saw former Australian representative Marilyn Emerton, whose side won the Australian Open Fours last year, (with the exception of the absent Diane Strawbridge), – Emerton’s star four of Catherine Bien, Ling Qu and Leanne Poulson losing their opening game on day two to end all title hopes following their solitary win on Friday.
Post-section play will commence on Sunday as teams take to the greens in a straight knockout format.