Bowls Comment – 17th February

Brian Henn’s victory in a long delayed but hard fought Open Singles final was a popular one, and was even good enough to lure wife Lois to the greens for a very rare glimpse of her husband’s skills. It was his third tight tussle under the two-life system with a high quality opponent in Mark Noble, and in the end there was still nothing between them! Brian’s winning shot was an advertisement for his well recognised style, using the precise weight to achieve the result he was after. Brian is well regarded as a hard-bitten survivor from a bygone era and is hardly a poster boy for the clean -cut image that the bodies funding sport these days would like to see. He dispenses with hats for sun protection and is even sighted occasionally with a cigarette in place while drawing the shot. In earlier days he learnt his trade leading for the powerful Peter Shaw side that boasted the talented McGovern brothers in the engine room of the team, and he won his first Centre titles with them. Much more recently, his solid leading has contributed hugely to the successful Brian Little combination in Taranaki. His Gold Star took a long time coming though, because
only in recent years has he become a feared Singles exponent. His genial, no-nonsense no-fuss approach is an example to any young player.

With the crucial Champion of Champions events now complete, a lasting impression is of the collective strength of the Northern women , most recently Champion Fours and Open Pairs winners to add to another Interclub title earlier. With Sharon Sims currently having time out, there are no real stars among the Northern women, but there are many very capable players whose collective club spirit produces the little bit extra needed to win so consistently. The power of Pat Horgan’s Palmerston North combo in the Men’s Fours is obvious, but it was great to see the re-emergence of young Ashhurst skip Mark McIntosh, who marshalled his team well to take the final to the wire. Two of Pat’s team learnt their trade at Terrace End, with Mike Abraham picking up his first title and Clayton Simpson showing again that he is a fine player with youth and exceptional ability on his side.

The hexagonal representative event hosted locally this coming weekend will give both men and women a good idea of where they stand looking forward to the national Inter-Centre titles in Wellington. Barry Wynks and Mark Noble will be missed, but it’s often overlooked that Manawatu were an unlucky second to Dunedin for the Men’s title last year, so our players are genuine contenders.

The Palmerston North club will host two major extended tournaments in the near future – first the North Island LVA Fours and then the unique Golden Oldies event which has filled up yet again with a full field of eighty teams.This is a big tournament by any modern standards and Ken Murray’s superbly prepared greens will guarantee the best possible conditions for both events.

Denis Duffy