The Hawkes Bay composite pairing of Bevan Webb and Merv Brown will today be returning north to bask in the glory of their newfound champion status following their win in the inaugural South Island Development Pairs in Timaru.
Hosted by the Kia Toa Bowling Club, the 0-8 years pairs event attracted 56 teams, with combinations travelling from as far north as Taranaki and as far south as Invercargill to be part of the occasion.
Held in glorious conditions over the Labour Weekend, the competition concluded on Monday with a thrilling final between Webb and Dunedin brothers Mitch and Cam Cook.
Supported by their country counterparts Temuka, four greens were in action for qualifying with six games taking place to find the Top 16. By midday Sunday, the top sides emerged and it was all eyes on post-section as the format reverted to straight knockout in a bid to find the best performed pairing.
Teams outside of the main event comprised Divisions 2, 3 & 4, though action was brought to a standstill at Temuka as a participant sadly passed away during play on Sunday. Play was abandoned for the afternoon, with all players in Division 2 and 3 continuing on Monday with a revised format.
Donning black armbands as a mark of respect, the finals fixtures resumed with Webb and Brown accounting for local hopes Craig Stewart and Aaron Taylor in one semi-final, and the Cook duo edging a thrilling match-up opposite Max Brydon and Taran Moanaroa of Marlborough in the other.
The final saw Webb and Brown race out to a strong start, piling the pressure on the Dunedinites end after end, extending their lead to 11-1 after six ends. However, not to be outdone, the Cook brothers regathered their form and began clawing back at the deficit - getting back to within one shot with three ends left to play and turning up the anticipation levels in the closing stages.
In the final end, the Cook brothers were left to ponder what may have been, with Webb making contact with a wide bowl and pushing it across for shot. Two near misses on the drive saw Mitch Cook unable to rescue proceedings, succumbing 16-13 in a memorable inaugural final on the Kia Toa greens.
Reflecting on the win, a relieved Brown seemed happy to have weathered the storm, pointing out they never stopped believing.
“At one point we were cruising along, but the boys played fantastic bowls to come right back at us. We got stuck on the 11 shots, but we knew that if we got off that we stood every chance of getting over the line,” Brown said.
“It’s been a fantastic weekend, the greens have been a pleasure to play on and it’s been great to team up with Merv. I’ve only recently moved to Hawkes Bay and this is the first time we’ve played together, so we’re both really happy with how we went,” Webb added.
“We’ll be back and hopefully next year, we can bring some more teams with us (COVID permitting).”
In other results, Matt Small and Lyn Martin took out the Special Plate, John Hanton and Christine Hanton won the Plate, Dave Bean and Chris Taylor took out Division 2, Dave Curtis and Shelley McGrath won Division 3 and Gary Bland and Phil Quinn took out Division 4 to conclude the weekend’s action.
Look out for the second instalment of the South Island Development Pairs as it returns at Labour Weekend 2022.
Find the final, below: