Manawatu Lawn Bowls News – 12th December

Thanks to Tony for providing us with all the news from around the Lawn Bowls clubs in Manawatu…

“Selector Eric Watson will be extra keen to get the representative team back on course when Manawatu faces Hawkes Bay at Palmerston North Bowling Club on Sunday.

The team was well off the pace in the recent Arnott Duckett fixture in Taranaki but most of the unavailable personnel will return this week and after being frustrated by the “Alpha” brigade from Takaro himself during the season Watson has brought in three exponents of the narrow bowl to shore up one team.

There is a very settled look about much of the green team with Ross Ellery playing singles, Pat Horgan and Graeme Cooley in the pair and Phillip Skoglund jnr skipping the four. Still frustrated in seeking a top front end in a four Watson has turned to Chris Barrett to lead Skoglund’s team. Watson has long espoused the theory that if you can play singles you can lead and he will be demanding Barrett put his first bowl next to the jack. Grant Davis and Shane Rogers complete that four but they will be pressured for places in next month’s quadrangular team by several in the white team.

In the white team Lawrie Gordon will play singles and his Takaro clubmates Terry Curtis and Barry Wynks will operate as a pair. Craig Gush’s form has been indifferent and he will be seeking to re-establish as will Mark Noble who had a great start to his Manawatu bowls career at Labour weekend winning the mixed 2-4-2 Centre event but he has made little impression since. Steve Toms, back from shoulder surgery early in the year and Cameron Nairne complete Gush’s four.

All in all Watson seems to have a fine balance of proven temperament, reliability and promise. Previously the quadrangular was played with a senior team and development squad but the development concept has given way to a second open seven for the event so don’t expect too many personnel changes from now on. Manawatu’s women will also face Hawkes Bay but their teams were not available for comment.

• The Centre completed the first two national club championships last Sunday when finals of mens pairs and triples were held at Palmerston North in gusty conditions.

The pairs final was locked at 14-14 after 15 ends and it had been very much a game of two halves with Cameron Nairne delivering well to set up heads for Phillip Skuglund early on only to go on holiday in the middle stages. At this time Shane Rogers delivered the goods for Clayton Simpson who gave the impression early he was a little overawed by the occasion. Once Skoglund played a sensational run shot on the 15th end to pull the game back to level Nairne really stood up plonking two bowls on the jack in each of the next two ends. Forced to drive the Terrace End team were unable to connect and surrendered fours on ends 16 and 17 to hand the game to Skoglund and Nairne. Rogers had been seeking his coveted gold star and hid his disappointment well after the game. Simpson was seeking his first senior centre title but in his case the disappointment was not to last long.

In the afternoon Brian Looker, Simpson and Alistair (Scruff) Anderson won a one sided triples final over Bob Williams, Brian Henn and Paul Rowe from Palmerston North. All members of Williams team were also seeking their gold stars and in Henn’s case he had been waiting since 1987 and  his first win. The front two never fired and Williams was always under pressure. Consistency was the hallmark of the Looker team and the eventual margin of 18-10 probably belied their superiority. After a very solid interclub playing singles Looker could be considered unlucky to miss representative selection.

• I have not heard of any Manawatu players heading to the Nationals this season but we have 18 teams heading for the Taranaki Men’s Open. Taranaki will host next seasons Nationals and I expect we will see large contingents from Manawatu head there.

• After next Sunday there will be little on in the centre until January but four tournaments worth considering are Northern’s double mixed pairs tournaments on 27 December, Ashhurst’s any gender triples on 29 December, Terrace End’s any gender triples on 1 and 2 January and Shannon’s any gender triples also on 2nd January. Otherwise players will no doubt enjoy a break.

Tony Jensen”

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