Tough conditions in men’s singles – Bowls Nationals

Thanks to Grant Hassall and the Taranaki Daily News for the latest Lawn Bowls news from Auckland…

“Taranaki’s hopes are alive and well in the men’s singles at the New Zealand bowls championships after a successful day in Auckland yesterday.

With all the original competitors included in the sudden death draw, the field was whittled down to 32 players yesterday, and three of them – Don Christensen (Paritutu), Dean Elgar (Vogeltown) and Craig Johns (West End) – are from Taranaki.

But the news was glum in the women’s pairs where all seven combinations were eliminated.

All three surviving Taranaki players re-ceived a bye into round two.

Elgar’s good fortune continued then as his opponent didn’t turn up – one of 10 first-game defaults – and then he whitewashed the unknown Bryce Mackie (Avondale) 21-0. But Elgar required everything to win his last game, 21-20, over Neville Hill (Avondale).

Christensen had a close shave against Jordan King (Onehunga) in his second game, winning 21-19. Either side of that he scored 21-5 and 21-11 victories over modest opponents.

Johns worked hard for his wins. He beat former Superbowls champion Clive Major (Pakuranga) 21-15, Simon Reesby (Kensington) 21-18 and Warwick Fredrikson (Blockhouse Bay), who made the last 16 of the pairs, 21-12.

The only other player from the province to win a match was Paritutu’s Alan Batley. He beat 2007 Taranaki open fours winner Gary Breckon 21-20 before falling to pairs semifinalist Alvin Gardiner by the same scoreline.

Play was tricky yesterday in breezy conditions and that could partly explain the casualties – including Gary Lawson, Matt Gallop, Jamie Hill, Shannon McIlroy, Andrew Kelly and Rob Ashton.

In short, the singles title is wide open, which is great news for Taranaki’s hopes.

This morning Elgar meets double Auckland gold star holder Grant Goodwin, who pushed out McIlroy 21-18. Christensen plays Paul Howell, a sixth-year player from Kapiti, while Johns meets 20-year-old Robbie Reed, from Canterbury.

The women’s pairs field still retains a powerful look with both singles finalists, Mandy Boyd and Sandra Keith, into the last 16, along with Dale Lang, Genevieve Baildon and Clare McCaul.

Only two Taranaki pairs got past first base.

New Plymouth’s Kath Brown and Vogeltown’s Gale Fache opened with a 19-7 win over Diane Harris (Pakuranga) but then lost to Maria Broadbent (Carlton Cornwall) 17-13.

Paritutu’s Carolyn Harris and Gloria Shaw opened with a 28-13 win over Jeanette Scarrott (Mt Wellington) but then crashed 31-10 to Karen de Jongh (Carlton Cornwall).

By the end of today’s play the finalists in both the men’s singles and women’s pairs will be known.”

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