Takarua, Goddard & Thompson Toast of Royal Oak

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Rising Auckland star Aiden Takarua has again proved why he is one of the sport’s leading talents to watch going forward, skipping North Harbour’s Selina Goddard and fellow Aucklander Nick Thompson to the esteemed Barfoot & Thompson Royal Oak Bowls Triples honours.

Now in its ninth year, the event is recognised as one of the country’s premier bowls events, this year supported by the Bowls New Zealand Summer of Bowls programme, attracting former, present and inevitably future national representatives to the Royal Oak greens in Auckland.

Goddard, a former New Zealand representative and Commonwealth bronze medallist, along with Auckland provincial representative Thompson, were equally as impressive as Takarua – who turned heads again last week taking out the Auckland Men’s Singles opposite the vastly experienced Petar Sain.

Following two days of section-play qualifying, the quarter-finalists were found with the top two from each section advancing to the Main Event playoffs after seven rounds.

Alongside Takarua’s side in the final eight, skips included Mike Galloway, Simon Poppleton, Joe Whitelaw, Josh Boyd, Glenn Newton, David Eades and last year’s winners Ashleigh Jeffcoat and Co (Richard Hocking & Kimberley Hemingway).

The semi-finals saw Galloway, who had Counties Manukau representative David Clarke and Gavin Brown alongside him, defeat Poppleton and his young charges Caleb Hope and Jesse Russell, while Takarua dispatched Eades to set up a blockbuster final clash for the onlooking crowds.

With the weather delivering a good spell on the Sunday, rinkside spectators and Facebook live stream followers were treated to a thrilling exhibition of bowls, with both sides trading blows at crucial times throughout the contest, including what seemed a knockout hit from Galloway on the penultimate end, trailing the jack for three shots to lead 12-9.

However, a determined Takarua side saw an opportunity to chase four with Takarua opting to drive the jack in the ditch with his final bowl to claim an awaiting four count and steal the final, however the connection edged the jack out of bounds and a replay end was on the cards.

The replay saw Takarua, Goddard and Thompson collect the required three to force an extra end, with all eyes then on both Takarua and Galloway, both having to draw to the two-metre mark following a burn from Clark with his final bowl.

An outstanding bowl saw Takarua land several inches in front of the jack, with Galloway then executing a pin-point drive to remove the bowl and leave Takarua, once again, under final bowl pressure.

Though, seemingly unfazed by the occasion, Takarua put his second bowl again within inches of the jack, leaving a failed Galloway draw attempt sailing wide and gifting the young trio a memorable win among seasoned campaigners of the finest calibre, 13-12.

The win, which sees Takarua’s troops collect the $7500 winners cheque and trophy, marks the second year a young side has topped the field, showing the sport to be in great hands for the future.

Meanwhile, across rinks, Brody Dix and his side of Dave Maka and Mark Hall, secured the Plate victory, accounting for this season’s national title winners Debbie White and Lisa Prideaux, along with the recalled New Zealand representative Wendy Jensen.

Beaten semi-finalists in the plate competition included former New Zealand representative Richard Girvan and Asia Pacific-bound Jamie Hill.

The Barfoot & Thompson Royal Oak Triples will return again in 2020.

Sam Morton

9th Barfoot & Thompson Royal Oak Bowls Triples Tournament, Auckland

Main Event
Champion: Aiden Takarua, Selina Goddard, Nick Thompson
Runer Up:  Mike Galloway, David Clarke, Gavin Brown
3rd equal:  Simon Poppleton, Caleb Hope, Jesse Russell
                   David Eades, Colin Rogan, Garry Cotter

Plate Event
Winner: Brody Dix, David Maka, Mark Hall
Runner Up: Debbie White, Lisa Prideaux, Wendy Jensen
3rd equal: Richard Girvan, Mark Watt, Brian Bateman
                 Jamie Hill, Laurie Guy, Barry O’Brien