Mount Maunganui's Raewyn Willis was in top drawing form in winning her 10th centre title.

Excitement and milestones in the Bay centre fours

March 9, 2021

Raewyn Willis collected her 10th centre title and Faye Scott and Mary Conroy won back-to-back championships at the Tauranga club in the Domain on January 31.

They were joined by Mount Maunganui's Nita Cowper in winning the Bay of Plenty women's open fours in fine style.

The steady Mount four overcame two Ngongotaha combinations in the business end of the tournament. They beat Missy Fitzgerald, Sandra Burrows, Marlene Jordan and Jan Hopkins 15-11 in the semi-finals, after picking up a four, three and a single in the first four ends to lead 8-1. They held onto further leads of 10-3, 11-7 and 13-10.

Mere Eden, PK Tamehana, Lillie McGregor and Charlene Beckett beat Janice Paap, Marg Barlow, Jan Hausman and Gail Duncan (Tauranga South) 13-9 in the other semi-final by holding leads of 7-2, 10-3 and 12-5 through the match.

In the tight final against  Eden, Tamehana, McGregor and Beckett, Willis won only seven of the 16 ends but they included a four on the fourth end and a three on the 12th to eventually win 14-10.

Incredibly, the Ngongotaha team was restricted to singles on eight of their nine winning ends, and after the score was tied 6-all on the seventh end, the Willis-skipped side raced ahead 10-6 after 10 ends and 13-7 after 12 ends.

Scott and Conroy, who earns her Gold Star, were part of the winning Omanu four last season playing with Patsy Jorgensen and Margaret McLennan. They moved to the Mount with Willis when the Omanu club closed.

Willis said her goal was to win her 10th centre title. "I'm pretty pleased with that and throughout the final day I surprised myself about how well I picked the green which kept changing, speed-wise. I played some of my best bowls, most of it drawing. It was awesome, but all the girls had their turn."

The 16-match unbeaten run of the Taranaki Open champions Dan Dickison, Steve Hughes, John O'Shea and Lance Tasker came to a sudden and unexpected end in the semi-finals of the men's fours. They were stunned 18-17 by the composite team of Kevin Maxfield, Harley Neems, Alan Macauley and Neil Wilson, who mixed skillful bowling with some good fortune in an exciting match.

Maxfield, who has won 25 centre and two national titles in an outstanding career, used his experience and guile to upset the well-oiled Dickison machine. The composite side shot out to a 14-4 lead after picking up a five on the ninth end and then 17-9 on the 13th end.

The Dickison-skipped team, who won the centre fours in 2019, fought back with fours on the 10th, 14th and 16th ends, but they fell at least one shot short. Maxfield knocked up a short bowl for shot on the 17th to maintain the lead at 18-13, and then did the same thing, as if intentionally, on the fateful last end.

At one stage the Dickison team held the required five for the draw, with more opportunities to come after No 2 O'Shea trailled the jack back. But Maxfield pounced, knocking up another short bowl on the forehand to cut the count to four, and Dickison was unable to add with two draw shots.

The visiting Hinuera side of Kevin Smith, Bruce Milne, Paul Casey jnr who replaced Stu Settle, and Brendon Brill combined brilliantly to beat the young guns Nick Tomsett, Nathan Arlidge, Andre Hudson and Cliff Webber in the other semi-final 13-12. It was a tight tussle with tight drawing and tight heads.

Hinuera started with a two and a three and Tomsett's team replied with a three, two and single to lead 6-5 after five ends. It was 7-all after eight ends and 8-all after 10 ends, and then the experienced Smith picked up a three and two singles to lead 13-9 after 14 ends. In a mighty finish, the young guns worked hard but could only collect a single and two over the final two ends.

In the quarter-finals, the Maxfield combination scraped through on the second extra end against Graham Skellern, David Eades, Hopa Bell and Don Malpas, after lead Neil Wilson drew his first bowl right behind the jack, and it refused to budge.

Dickison beat Greg West, Doug Russell, Tony Gabolinsky, Greg Gould (Te Puke); Smith overcame Jim Martin, John George, Ken Boyle, Richard Guy (Matua); and Tomsett got past Garry Bodger, Ron Crimlis, Andy Campbell, Terry Leadbetter (Papamoa) in the other quarter-final matches.

The Maxfield-Smith final will be played at a later date, along with the final of the centre men's pairs.