Manawatu women show up the men in intercentre encounters
In spite of the unavailability of seven players, the Manawatu women's team scored a hard-fought and meritorious win over Wanganui and Taranaki in their annual tournament at Hawera Park last Saturday.
It is never easy travelling and playing the same day but with the farthest to travel, our women were well awake and ended up with 15 points to just head off Wanganui on 14 with Taranaki on seven.
Selector Viv Lozell would be pleased with all combinations. Janeen Noble won both singles and Feona Sayles will have her work cut out to reclaim her singles spot after she was unavailable for this event.
The new pair of Christine Quinn skipping and Robyn Schischka off the front looked extra good and Sheryn Blake and Mere Freyer looked right at home in the top end of the four. Who to leave out will be Lozell's quandary when she narrows it down to a top seven for future events.
■ Our men's team on the other hand was third in a two-day event played at Wanganui East and featuring the same three centres, but was very competitive in some disciplines. Points were Taranaki 29, Wanganui 23 and Manawatu 20 and while Taranaki were never going to lose a little extra luck could have seen Manawatu finish second.
It was a vastly improved effort from last season when Manawatu were a distant third, but the real headache for selector Eric Watson is fours.
The green team four of Philip Skoglund, Graeme Cooley, Steve Toms and Ross Ellery won only one game from four and the white combination of Brian Little, Barry Wynks, Terry Curtis and Scruff Anderson had but one draw.
For some years Skoglund has carried an enormous workload in fours but no player can respond every end. For my money too few bowlers really understand the discipline required in the two-bowl game.
It is so different to three and four-bowls where any mug can get one in the head. Not so in fours.
You often hear corrupt thinking bandied about that "if the lead is not there, the whole team is off".
If the lead's not there, the two has a job to do, and so on.
Fortunately Chris Barrett went well, winning three of four singles, and Scotty McGavin had a 50 per cent return in the other singles spot.
Manawatu finished second in the development competition with Mike Hodge playing outstanding bowls and Bruce Harris, Ian Lewis and Mike Bowey looking at ease at that level.
If we were marking exams, we would grant an honours pass to the women but the men would receive that comment, "can do better", most of us were familiar with when growing up.
■ Interclub will resume on Saturday and any players at the front end of a four could well do putting their hand up when they mark Eric Watson in the premier grade.
Palmerston North and Northern are only separated by a point and I'm not bold enough to predict who'll come out on top.
Takaro and Terrace End are close enough that any team could still win, but they would probably need other results to go their way. A clean sweep in any round could turn the tournament upside down.
■ Manawatu Bowls has dramatically improved its website thanks to the skills of secretary Ian Lewis. Have a look at bowlsmanawatu.co.nz and see what I mean. It's one of the best around.
■ Congratulations to Northern's premier seven that won the Manawatu women's team prize at the Manawatu Sports awards.
I often admire the women of this club for their club spirit.
They achieve highly on the green but when you look deeper they are nearly all involved in administration, coaching and selecting, and aren't too proud to front in the kitchen as well.
■ Adam Johnston, Brian Looker and Clayton Simpson all played at the New Zealand Open recently and performed with credit.
Johnston reached the last eight in the triples while Looker and Simpson went out 12-11 in the last 32 of the pairs to the accomplished combination of Peter Sain and Nick Butter.
■ The time-honoured national tournament will be played in Taranaki this season and it will be interesting to see how many Manawatu bowlers make the relatively short journey to greens that are unmatched in the North Island.
I'm taking the opportunity and will still return for my favourite tournament of all, the Taranaki Open.
■ There are tournaments galore coming up in the next few weeks and clubs need to remember that if you expect others to support your tournaments, you need to reciprocate.
They need to further remember that if greens are not up to scratch, your visitors don't return.
So get your centre books out and get on the phone and enter a tournament or two - you might even take home a prize, even if it is just the raffle.