New Plymouth and West End teams win Andersons Pies Open Pairs and Auto City Xmas Pairs Events

Grant Hassall

Christmas has come early for New Plymouth’s Val McEldowney and Elaine Hodge and West End’s Bruce Colgan and Steve Walker.

Both duos rose to the top to claim the big pairs prizes in Taranaki bowls on Saturday.

McEldowney and Hodge won a nail-biting final of the Andersons Pies-sponsored women’s open pairs 19-16 over Paritutu’s Bridget Fletcher and Cathy Andrews at Hawera Park.

Colgan and Walker’s finals success came 21-8 over the two-time defending champions in the Auto City-sponsored men’s Christmas pairs, clubmates John Roberts and Craig De Faria, at Paritutu.

McEldowney and Hodge opened the scoring in the final with two singles, but it was not until the 15th head, that they regained the lead. Fletcher and Andrews led 8-2 through seven ends, before the New Plymouth team climbed back into the contest. The lead regularly changed on the home straight. A three on the penultimate end – McEldowney held the shot on the change-over with Hodge adding in two beauties – gave the New Plymouth pair a two-shot buffer. They secured the title with a single on the last end.

In the semifinals, New Plymouth came from 17-8 down to beat Opunake’s Chris Commane and Pauline Davy 21-20, while Paritutu defeated Hawera Park’s Pauline Kennedy and Kristin Stampa 23-10.

The victory was Hodge’s fourth Taranaki crown – coming 12 years after the last – and the 15th title for McEldowney. Her tally comprises a title in the junior singles, champ pairs, open fours, open singles, open pairs twice, open triples four times and the mixed pairs on five occasions.

Three massive last bowls from Walker on ends 14, 15 and 16 firmly swung the men’s pairs final to him and Colgan.

After 13 ends, they held a 10-7 lead but the contest was wide open. Two down on the 14th, a Walker drive sliced the jack to net three shots. On the next, when four down, Walker calmly drew the ace with his last delivery. Then, on the 16th, when one down, Walker ran off the jack-low shot bowl for a count of four.

Suddenly, the score had blown out to 18-7. Had the Walker magic been missing on those ends, the score would have read 14-10 to De Faria. But big bowls win tournaments and few observers could deny the consistency of Colgan and Walker in their triumph.

Colgan collected his second Taranaki title with the win and Walker his 11th.

In the semifinals, Colgan and Walker overturned an 8-1 deficit to beat Fitzroy’s Mark Hawken and Maurice Symes 21-11, while Roberts and De Faria were commanding 21-8 winners over Camron Horo and Hamish Kape (Okato).

Bringing Back to Life the West End Classic

West End Bowling Club

The bringing back to life of the West End 10,000 Classic over Easter has been hailed as a resounding success by all of those involved in the Shifty’s Sports Bar-sponsored event.

The tournament has been absent from the Taranaki programme for some 15 years and its return was well received. While the majority of sides were from within Taranaki, there was a sprinkling of players from outside the province, who lapped up the ideal weather and greens running at high speed.

While the original classic format was not used – just fours and pairs – that suited the participants as they were able to devour the delights from the West End kitchen in between times.

Paritutu’s highly consistent and competent competitor, Darren Goodin, took out the top prize of $1,000 per player. His side had only just sneaked into the top flight after a mixed opening day.

But when the money was on show, there was no denying Goodin and his side of Nathan Goodin (no relation), Allan Batley and Adam Collins.

Heading into the last round, Goodin’s side was one of three unbeaten teams – along with Inglewood’s Gerry O’Sullivan and Ross Henderson from the host club.

Henderson, a former top basketball coach reinvented himself as a top lead during the weekend, but his side, after dropping an eight on the second end of the last round, crashed and burned to finish third.

O’Sullivan, who’s side included Bruce Candy the proprietor of Shifty’s, despite also falling in the final round, held on for second, with Paritutu’s Don Christensen claiming fourth.

West End’s Dean Elgar skipped his side to the second division title.

The smooth running of the event was greatly aided by the experienced trio in charge: Graham Johnson, Garry Murfitt and Brien Bennett QSM.

The positive atmosphere and comments left Candy in no doubt about the future prospects of the event. “In fact, I’ll throw in another couple of thousand next year to make it even more interesting,” he said.

* The original West End Classic was held in 1982, some 40 years ago, and was Taranaki’s first-ever professional event.

It drew a maximum field of 42 teams – including recent Commonwealth Games representatives Jim Scott, Peter Belliss, Danny O’Connor and Rowan Brassey. Also competing was Maurice Symes, who took part again in 2022 ahead of his return to his native Taranaki in June. Symes has accepted the greenkeeping position with the Fitzroy Club.

The 1982 winners were skipped by Fitzroy gold star holder John Howie, who teamed with Alan Crow – less than a month later he skipped Bruce John to the Dominion pairs title – Rodger Hassall and the delightful Hungarian, Johnny Nagy.

Bruce Ballinger (Paritutu) was second from Kevin Wing (Palmerston North) and Belliss.

Bowls New Zealand