Men's Centre Pairs 2024

March 29, 2024

Bayof Plenty Mens Open Pairs 2024

We were at the marvelous venue of Matua for the qualifying rounds of the Men’s Pairs. With 34 entries drawn into three pools it had to be said that there was definitely one stronger pool than the other two based on recent results, which was nicknamed the ‘pool of death’. As predicted it was, with only 3 teams qualifying out of 10 lining up. It was the same inthe second section, also only having 3 teams qualify out of the12 starters. From the third section 5 Qualifiers emerged.

In the round of 16, teams comprising Nick Tomsett and Jarryd Spriggs from Mount Maunganui, and George Stanisich and Andre Hudson of Tauranga South had big wins, by 24-2 and 19-8 respectively. This set up a clash of players who, in the Centre fours had narrowly missed out on reaching the final just a few weeks prior. This event’s clash going down to the last four bowls of Stanisich and Tomsett in the last end. After Tomsett drew a resting side toucher Stanisich pushed the jack through and out to the side. Not to be out done Tomsett drew his next one close but, outstandingly, Stanisich drew his next two inside his opponents bowl to give his team the victory by one point.

Then it was the crowd favourite team of Michael Staite and Raika Gregory from Ngongotaha to play the Hudson and Stanisich combination in a semi final matchup. It was the Ngongotaha team that got out of the gates early breaking away to a good lead. As the game went on the Tauranga South team clawed their way back into it. It looked like going into sudden death with Hudson’s bowl holding shot just off to the side when the class play of Gregory saw him sit on the shot bowl to snatch a late victory, 13-11.

In the other semi-final it was the only team left standing from the pool of death, comprising the defending champions Nathan Arlidge and Cliff Webber, against the experienced Merv Gibbons and Phil Morgan of Te Puke. Unfortunately, for the expectant crowd, Gibbons and Morgan with all their years of experience failed to outclass the incumbent form of Arlidge and Webber. Ending in an outstanding victory to the latter team 21-1 after an early 8 end concession.

In the final it felt like a home match for the Ngongotaha team with many of the post section teams from Rotorua staying on to support their team. It appeared Staite and Gregory were going to fly home early on with both playing out of their minds, getting away to a 9-3 lead after 5 ends. But then the class of Webber and Arlidge clicked in and in the next end they drew five bowls within a footof the jack. Luckily, they only left one out to the side and slightly in front,where Gregory’s last drive clipped it - enabling the Webber team to pick up four shots.

Then Staite returned fire by placing three bowls within a foot but leaving gaps for Webber and Arlidge to slide through. Gregory didn’t miss out in this opportunity adding two more counters himself to pick up a five for a 15-9 lead. Then the previous year’s winning team got into their work again and professionally picked up points time after time, until they were leading by one shot going into the last of the 16 scheduled ends.

After again some great lead bowls by the respective leads, Webber and Staite. It was Staite that provided a telling last bowl pushing the jack away from a Webber resting toucher, to hold two shots at the changeover. Again Gregory added another to what looked like game winning shots. But it was Arlidge who played a bomb to draw around short bowls and  come to rest right next to the jack, letting out a ‘Tiger Woods’ fist pump to let the crowd know how good it was. High fives were given to his team mate. A hush fell on the crowd as Gregory delivered his last bowl. Great line! Support from the crowd and cheering as it was coming down the green but it pulled up an agonizing few inches short, leaving Webber’s team the winners 18-16.