Thanks to Grant Hassall and the Taranaki Daily News for the latest lawn bowls news from Taranaki…
“Taranaki’s representative men’s bowls side returns to the greens for the first time this season when it faces Wanganui and Manawatu at the Paritutu greens this weekend.
And the returning faces of John Roberts and Grant Anderson, both of Alton, and Paritutu’s Darren Goodin should boost the confidence of selector Dennis Osborne.
The Revital Fertilisers-sponsored squad has a solid look to it, with Dean Elgar and Goodin handling the singles berths. They face Wanganui’s Alan Dickson and Ray Park – although Park’s accomplished son, Clint, is not in the side – and from Manawatu the tidy Chris Barrett and Clayton Simpson, a junior from the Terrace End club.
Roberts and Anderson will play under the control of Gary Lilley in the triples, before John Garrud joins the trio for Sunday’s fours rounds. Garrud is paired with Craig Johns on Saturday. On Sunday, Elgar will lead for Johns, which would appear to be Taranaki’s shadow combination for the intercentre in February.
Aside from Goodin, the second group of six for Taranaki has a more makeshift look to it.
Mark Anderson led in the pairs last season, but with Bruce Phillips unavailable this time, Neville Elliott will skip. Elliott deserves a go after a succession of strong performances in centre events over the past 12 months.
Gerry O’Sullivan will lead in the triples, and given his open singles victory last month, his selection is fully justified. Ian Lowry, who claimed his third Taranaki crown in the champion-of-champions triples in April, gets an opportunity in the triples, too, while Ian Andrews, a regular feature of the side in recent seasons, skips the triples.
On Sunday, Goodin will take over skipping Anderson in the pairs, with Elliott moving across to No 3 in the four.
Current Arnott Shield holder, Wanganui, with Sean Johnson in the side, could challenge Taranaki, although the River City will sorely miss Park junior and Bruce Winterburn. Manawatu have been bolstered with the arrival of Mark Noble, but there is no Phillip Skoglund, Pat Horgan or Ray Lovie in its ranks. Lovie continues to serve an 18-month representative suspension, after he turned up to the second day of last season’s Arnott Shield drunk.
Taranaki teams: Senior, Dean Elgar, John Garrud, Craig Johns, John Roberts, Grant Anderson, Gary Lilley, Darren Goodin, Mark Anderson, Neville Elliott, Gerry O’Sullivan, Ian Lowry, Ian Andrews; development, Dave Wilson, Phil Kuklinski, Mark Kuklinski, Conrad Jagusch, Jordan Linn, Glen Brookes, Liam Ranford, Steve Walker, Adam Collins, Martin Dravitzki, Bryce Koch, Scott Roberts.
The big name missing from the Taranaki side is West End’s David Bennett. His axing has ironically coincided with his achievement of claiming his 15th Taranaki title last Saturday in the South Taranaki Club-sponsored centre fours. He is just the fifth man in the province to achieve the feat.
Now in his mid-60s, Bennett still possesses one of the best deliveries and hairstyles on the green. The deadly drive of 10 years ago may have lost some pace and accuracy with it, but the Bennett draw remains impressive.
His determined attitude has also played a huge role in his success. As a first-year bowler remarked to me recently: “The intensity he brings to the rink is incredible.”
Bennett’s wins have come in the open singles (2000 and 2001), Christmas pairs (1984), open triples (2009 and 2010), open fours (1996), New Year/centre fours (1997, 2008, last season and this season), champion-of-champions singles (1980), champion-of-champions pairs (1982 and 2010), champion-of-champions triples (1996) and champion-of-champions fours (1999).
Bennett’s team-mate from Saturday, Keith Sampson, also had extra reason to celebrate the win, as it was his 10th Taranaki title. Gary Lilley has skipped six of those teams, Mal Stewart one and Craig Johns three.
Sampson’s wins have come in the Christmas pairs (December 2007), open fours (2000, 2008 and 2009), centre fours (last season and this year), champion-of-champions pairs (2007 and 2011), champion-of-champions fours (2005 and 2009).
Grant Hassall, Taranaki Daily News”