Lawn Bowls News from Taranaki

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

“New Plymouth’s Val and Grayson McEldowney are back at the top of the pecking order in Taranaki mixed pairs bowls – but only just.

The duo staged a brilliant comeback to claim the TSB Bank-sponsored title yesterday at Vogeltown, but they needed five extra ends to head off Fitzroy’s Janice Ropitini and Don West 23-18 after the scores had been tied at 16-16 after the regulation 16 ends.

Ropitini and West held the upper hand for most of the final, leading 14-6 after nine ends, and even after 14 heads still looked odds-on to win holding a five-shot buffer.

But the McEldowneys claimed a two and then a three to tie things up.

On the extra ends, the pairs exchanged singles, before the McEldowneys grabbed a match-winning five shots. The pairs then exchanged further singles on the remaining ends. It was Val McEldowney’s ninth Taranaki crown and No4 for Grayson McEldowney.

The McEldowneys were decisive 18-5 semifinal winners over Paritutu’s Bryan Sanger, who was teamed with his friend from Wanganui, Carolyn McLeod.

But West and Ropitini used their own get-out-of-jail card in the other semi, coming from 15-6 down to pip New Plymouth’s Gary Priest and Maree Gadsby 16-15.

The feature quarterfinal saw the McEldowneys use an extra end to pip Vogeltown’s Shirley Marsters and Oakura’s Jim Priest 13-12.

* Five extra ends were also required to find the winners in the Trough Mobile-sponsored Taranaki men’s open triples event at Hawera Park yesterday, with Craig Johns’ West End side prevailing.

Johns, teamed with Dave Wilson, a second year player, and Grant Hassall, got the fortuitous nod over Paritutu’s Mike Curd, Brian Kjestrup and skip Allan Batley, winning the final 24-20.

Wilson, 47, the purchasing manager for Mckechnie Metals, set the West End side up for victory with his lead bowls. West End led for most of the final and playing the 21st end, which was the scheduled final head, held a 17-14 advantage.

On the changeover Batley held two, before Johns drew an absolute beauty. With the game hanging by a thread, Batley produced his own piece of magic, sitting out Johns’ bowl on the windy hand to grab a three and force the game into over time.

But it was Johns, who claimed his 14th Taranaki title with the win, who called the tune thereafter. He drew superbly on the forehand to claim a single and then a two. Paritutu clawed back with a two on the third extra end, but a loose four on the next sealed the result for West End, with Paritutu managing only a single on the last head.

Batley made no race of his semifinal, trouncing Billy Walker’s Hawera Park team 21-4. In the other semi, Johns squeaked home over Nolantown’s Russell Hardy 18-17, after the scores had been even playing the last.”

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