Thanks to Grant Hassall and Taranaki Daily News for his report from the Nationals…
“The men’s singles botchup and the woeful weather aside, there was some top-notch stuff at the New Zealand bowls championships during the past fortnight.
Most of the casual travellers in bowls now avoid the national tournament, although there is still the odd one from Taranaki, but the competitiveness and quality remains at a high level.
Never was that better illustrated than in the quarterfinals of the men’s pairs, when Gary Lawson and Blake Signal went bowl for bowl.
Signal has jumped on to the national selection radar after his two victories. The Stokes Valley product impressed many with his coolness under fire.
It’s doubtful, though, that he or Lawson, for that matter, will be included in the World Bowls side.
Lawson needed a big New Zealand championships. It didn’t happen. He would still be in my side ahead of Richard Girvan, who was more anonymous than Lawson, and both Shaun Scott, who is unproven outside the South Island, and Tony Grantham.
It still remains hard to fathom how organisers, shortly after 1pm, called a halt to play in the men’s singles qualifying and said only first-round winners would advance.
Allan Griffiths and Kerry Clark have both been around long enough to know those illogical decisions will never be accepted. By 2pm everyone had been allowed through and the rain had all but disappeared.
Three rounds could have, and should have, been completed.
Could the same situation arise in Taranaki at next year’s tournament? Most decisively yes.
The event is run by the national body, not the host centre. Should the weather be as unkind next year, then some events may need to be abandoned.
It was good fortune that organisers had access to more than 30 artificial greens, some of refreshingly high quality, to transfer players to. Taranaki has no such luxury.
From the Taranaki perspective, despite a good quantity competing, the results were poor.
No Taranaki women made the second day of post section, which remains the barometer of success.
Three players made the second day in the men’s singles, but the redrawn field became a bit of a raffle, with an inevitable imbalance in quality between sections.
Dean Elgar could look back on his singles as a lost opportunity. He bowed out 21-17 to the eventual winner, Peter Hodson, in the last 16, but it was a game Elgar should have won. He drew more shots, but Hodson attacked with success, and fortuitously.
Elgar also lost to the fours champions after a good run through section play.
He certainly has the ability to go further, especially on home surfaces, but there is much to do for all the rest if there is to be a hometown victory in 12 months’ time.”
Thanks Grant, for all your reports from the nationals!!!