Taranaki Men's Fours Winners
If the final of this year’s Taranaki Open Men’s Fours is anything to go by, the future of Taranaki bowls appears to be in almighty shape, with four Paritutu young guns getting the job done among elite company.
The format, now in its 118th year, played host to a remarkable 182 teams – an increase of 24 sides compared to the previous year and proving to be the highest number of entries since 2015.
Spearheaded by Hamish Kape, and ably supported by Aidan Zittersteijn, Kaylin Huwyler and Daryl Read, the quartet proved impressive throughout, navigating their way through some stern challenges over the traditional 25-end format, becoming the youngest team in the history of the event to take the spoils.
But their win certainly didn’t come without drama - Kape and his troops having to dig deep to stay in touch with former New Zealand international Peter Belliss, forced to chase a four on the final-end to keep their title hopes alive. Alas, Zittersteijn, a commonwealth games bronze medalist, stepped up to the challenge, trailing the jack several metres back to his team’s waiting bowls – holding four for the draw. A couple of wayward run shots from Belliss, and an added shot from Kape saw the local’s pick up a stunning five-count, progressing their way through to the grand finale.
Though, as good as the closing stages of the semi-final were, all eyes were firmly on the all-Paritutu club clash, with Kape lining up against Brendon Walton and his combination of Trevor Johns, Gary Barber and Aiden’s father John Zittersteijn – John himself, a former New Zealand indoor bowls representative.
After 10 ends in the final, Kape’s side led 8- 6. The side showed good intent following afternoon tea when they extended that to 13- 6 after 13 ends, though five singles to Walton had it 13-11 after 18 ends, shaping up for a thrilling finish.
However, some outstanding skipping from Kape saw the young guns retain advantage, extending their lead to 18-12 with four ends remaining. Though, not to be outdone, Walton and his side continued to show grit and determination, closing the gap to 18-17 with one end left to play.
A long end, into the wind, saw Read and Huwyler drew good shots. Walton attacked twice on the wide hand, both times swinging under the head to leave Kape’s side with the accolades, but Walton’s team still with many happy memories of the week.
The other semi-final saw Walton and Co. defeat defending champions Craig de Faria, Dave Wilson, Steve Walker and Jordan Linn, matching their clubmates and booking their spot in the final dance.
In other results (for the non-qualifiers), the vastly experienced Thames Valley duo of Karl Garrett and Colin Gawith secured the pairs’ silverware, staging a fierce comeback opposite composite pairing Matthews Higginson and Andy Dorrance, 22-11. Beaten semi-finalists were Bruce Colgan and Camron Horo and Inglewood’s Chris Gyde and Bernie O’Sullivan.
Meanwhile, attention now turns to the Taranaki Women’s Open, with 82 combinations vying for the prestigious title later this week. Qualifying is now underway.