We were back at beautiful Whakatane for this event but unfortunately again the weather didn’t play ball. It was four seasons in two days.
Saturday threw up some stunning performances. Graham Ricketts of Te Puke had four strong wins 15/4, 12/9, 17/7 and 16/4. Other notable performances in the top section of the draw were Lance Tasker’s combination and Alan Brown, both winning three in a row to qualify. Deryck Scott and Warwick Wickham both had to do it the hard way , having to win their last round matches to qualify.
In the bottom section it was Regg Martin’s composite team that strolled into the playoffs with three straight wins. John Gray and Mark Sarginson both had good starts but then were asked to go the distance to claim their spot after one loss apiece. Whereas Lance Hoete, Angela Stephen and John Chelley all had to do it the hard way also, after losing first round matches.
Peter Smale once said ‘you have to lose a game to win a tournament’ which became very appropriate after such a challenging qualifying round of matches.
It was a case of the first day favourites being taken out in the first round of post section play, suggesting that it may have been a shift of greens that caused such a change in form. The quarter finals were then a bit one sided unfortunately as the wind started to take the players to new depths of fortitude. Angela Stephen won 16/3 over home favourite Chelley while Wickham,another local, beat Tasker and his upand coming players, 21/4. Brown, from TePuke, put Sarginson out 11/8 and Hoeteovercame Scott 17/7.
The semi finals really pushed the levels of fortitude againwith all the seasons playing out in this round. Wickham’s team tested thepatience of Stephen’s team with plenty of up shots and end winning bowls. Despitetheir initial consistency Stephen’ players were asked to chase the game andplay shots in very windy conditions resulting in Wickham winning 19/10.
The other semi final between Hoete and Brown was a classic.The teams were very even but it came down to two plays that made the difference. Both from Hoete’s composite team. Firstly It was a run shot from Hoete that sliced a barely visible jack and then a mistake by Michael Staite by throwing the jack too short, allowing the opposition to extend to a 2m to 2m last end. Despite his error it was Staite who then nailed a front toucher on his first bowl which Brown’s team couldn’t remove, and saw Hoete winning 12/10.
The final was a low scoring win 13/6 to Hoete, Mina Paul and Staite. They were better at handling the conditions and just kept up the pressure with each player being there for the team when needed. Unfortunately Wickham’s team weren’t able to maintain the game plan that they had successfully used from the rest of the tournament, having to often revert to run shots.
It was both Hoete and Staite’s first senior centre title and Pauls 31st. And on the latest performances by all three, it won’t be their last.