The two youngest skips in the Bowls3Five televised league will square-off for the inaugural title and a $15,000 winners’ cheque in Auckland tonight (Wednesday, November 28).
Aiden Takarua, 19, and the Point Chevalier Pirates will take on Sheldon Bagrie-Howley, 23, and the Gore Rams in the grand final at the New Lynn Bowling Club, after the Rams overcame world champion Shannon McIlroy and the Stoke Thunder in a thrilling playoff.
The Pirates beat Gore in both of their round-robin meetings, the second of which secured Pt Chev a place in the title decider.
But Takarua believes those memories will no longer be fresh in the Rams’ minds, following their come-from-behind win over the Thunder.
He is also keen to play down the significance of his head-to-head match-up with Bagrie-Howley.
“It’s really the battle off the front that’s going to be a big factor,” Takarua said.
“Ashleigh [Jeffcoat] and Jenny [Stockford] have had good moments throughout the tournament and have probably been the two form leads from what I’ve seen.”
Pt Chev and Gore have adopted contrasting approaches to the competition, with the Pirates giving all six of their squad members’ game time, while Jeffcoat, 19, Caleb Hope, 20, and Bagrie-Howley have played in all 11 of the Rams’ matches.
But a couple of Gore’s other squad members have made their way up to Auckland and with a few friends and family will try and match the raucous local support.
Aiden Takarua has been the one ever-present for the Pirates, who have settled with Stockford, 50, and Alex Reed, 25, as their first-choice lead and number two, and has tried to keep thoughts about the big prize money out of his mind.
“I haven’t thought about it until now,” Takarua said.
“We’re happy with what we’ve done and anything else is a bonus.”
The grand final will follow the relegation playoff between the Woodend Jets and the Royal Oak Rockets.
The Jets went winless through the round-robin, but came close in a number of matches, including their most recent against the Rockets last week.
The winner will join the top four finishers in securing a berth in next year’s competition, while the loser will be replaced.
Day 12 matches (both broadcast LIVE on SKY Sport 2) from 7pm
Relegation match: Woodend Jets vs Royal Oak Rockets
Title match: Point Chevalier Pirates vs Gore Rams
The total prize pool is $28,000.
1st place: $15,000
2nd place: $7,000
3rd place: $4,000 – Stoke Thunder
4th place: $2,000 – Stokes Valley Vipers
Please note there will also be updates of the matches on Twitter and the Bowls3Five Facebook page.