Open Singles and Taranaki Open Fours Preview – Manawatu Lawn Bowls

Thanks to Tony Jensen for all the news from around the Lawn Bowls clubs in Manawatu…

“Manawatu Centre’s bowling season re-ignites over the weekend with the playing of the National Club singles for both genders.

The men’s entry of 44 is pleasing but the women’s entry of 12 is paltry and at a level that make’s running the event questionable. Before the month is out 14 women players will be required at the annual quadrangular representative event and I would have expected all players hoping for a spot to have entered.

Granted singles is not everyone’s cup of tea but for competitive practice alone there is nothing to match it. Feona Sayles (Northern), Fran Frith (Terrace End) and Robyn Schischka (Johnston Park) have all performed well at the recent National Championships and New Zealand Open and I would expect to see them prominent when post-section draws are done. Only four of the Centre’s 16 Clubs are represented with a pleasing four from Takaro, the same from Northern and two each from Johnston Park and Terrace End. I am staggered a club like Palmerston North cannot raise a single entry and they are at home.

The men’s will play two sections at Northern and one at Palmerston North and that has a “section from hell” look about it. Included are in form current reps and centre title winners Clayton Simpson, Mark Noble, Ray Lovie, Chris Barrett, Brian Looker, Phillip Skoglund jnr, Lawrie Gordon and Ross Ellery. Lovie will meet Ellery first up in what should be a humdinger of a match and Lovie will then have to face Looker who plays Skoglund first up.

There is still much in the way of quality in the other sections with previous winners Craig Gush and Shane Rogers heading section A which also includes Terry Johnson, Steve Toms and Scotty Mc Gavin. Rogers and Gush meet in the second round in the pick of the match-ups for the section. In form bowlers in the B section Include Barry Wynks, Cameron Nairne, Grant Simms and Terry Rossiter while the last round will have “a old timers day” look about it when Terry Puklowski (Johnston Park) and Northern’s maestro Phil Skoglund snr play each other. In their prime both were formidable singles exponents.

The women’s post section will be played on the Sunday but the men will wait till later in the month. I am sure the improved men’s entry is directly attributable to not playing on the Sunday, traditional migration day for bowlers heading to the country’s most popular tournament the Taranaki Open fours.

Sixteen teams will represent the Centre taking 64 bowlers away from singles eligibility if they were played that day. Brian Little’s Palmerston North team which finished runner-up last year after being forced indoors for the final heads the Manawatu contingent. Little is joined by the Henn brothers Brian and Ron in the front end with Wairarapa’s top bowler Ian Monaghan completing the four.

Ray Lovie has Cameron Fitzgerald, Grant Simms and Shane Rogers with him and they have the talent to go a long way in the tournament. Similarly the Takaro combination of Terry Curtis, Lawrie Gordon, Terry Rossiter and Barry Wynks will acquit themselves well.

Our best combination on paper is the Northern/Palmerston North composite of Craig Gush (a previous winner), Pat Horgan, Steve Toms and Cameron Nairne. As for the rest of us we are probably making up the numbers but several more are good enough to qualify and anything can happen when bowlers are in form.

• Our representation at the National Championships was small but all acquited themselves well. In the men’s singles both Brian Schischka (Johnston Park) and Adam Johnston (Northern) went three rounds of post section while Schischka’s wife Robyn made the last 16 in the pairs with ex Northern player Sue Way. They were eliminated 16-14  by Genevieve Baildon and Jan Shirley the eventual winners. Feona Sayles from Northern also qualified for both pairs and singles with Schischka and Way also qualifying in the individual discipline.

• Much has been made of of Mandy Boyd making three finals and losing them all but it should not be overlooked her sister Angela also made two finals. Their time will come again and the only way to lose a final is be in it.

• Men’s tournament star was undoubtedly Blake Signal who won the pairs and fours and will force the hands of the National selectors soon.

Tony Jensen

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