Kiwis returned home without gold but lacked home advantage
The world bowls championship in Adelaide has come and gone and although New Zealand came away goldless, their performance was better than some commentators are suggesting.
Val Smith continues to be our leading performer coming home with silver in singles and pairs, combining with Jo Edwards in the pairs event. Both finals were lost to Australia and bowls, like no other sport, is a game where local knowledge is a huge advantage.
You only have to look back to the last worlds in New Zealand and remember how dominant our players were at home.
The women's triple of Mandy Boyd, Lisa White and Jan Khan won silver and there must be a bitter-sweet taste in the mouth of Boyd because she finished runner-up in three events at last year's nationals. Her time will come.
Our men brought home two bronze medals, with one going to Shannon McIlroy in the singles. His rise to prominence continues.
The other bronze went to the triple of Ali Forsyth, Matt Gallop and Tony Grantham. Both genders continue to struggle in the fours.
World bowls returns to Christchurch in 2016 and I am confident most of this team will be still together and a lot more streetwise by then.
Manawatu has its biggest complement of players heading to the national tournament for many a year. The event is in Taranaki from December 28 until January 9 and it is probably the relative closeness and outstanding greens that attracted 32 men and 14 women from our centre.
I like the look of a composite team in the fours of Pat Horgan, Graeme Cooley and Ross Ellery from Palmerston North joined by Phillip Skoglund (Northern) playing at three, but they have what can only be described as a draw from hell.
They start with a competitive-looking Whanganui unit comprising Phil Corney, Selwyn Prescott, Tony Waikato and Phil Carey and then will be confronted by Black Jacks Ali Forsyth and Matt Gallop, complemented by Lloyd Gallop and Graham Hood.
They should hold out a team of New Plymouth locals but will then play Northern's Craig Gush and Cameron Nairne who team with Ray Park, from Whanganui, who has been performing outstandingly, and John Walker from Browns Bay. They should get past two local sides in the last games if they are still alive, and I would expect if they qualify, they will be extra competitive in post-section.
In singles, I suggest Chris Barrett, Gush, Horgan, Ellery, Terry Johnson, Brian Looker, Adam Johnston, Darryl Johnson, Scotty McGavin, Skoglund, Brian Schischka and Grant Simms to be good chances to qualify.
Ngaire Cowen, Anna Davis, Sheryn Blake, Chris Quinn, Robyn Schischka and Feona Sayles should similarly achieve in the women's event.
I am playing all disciplines myself and look forward to the event, which will be hosted by the most hospitable centre in New Zealand.
Don't forget entries close on Monday, December 17, for the New Year open any gender triples and on December 24 for the any gender 5-year-and-under 2-4-2 pairs held on January 6.
Bowls lost a good friend this week, with the death of Dannevirke's Trevor Baker. He was one of those people always toiling at something whenever you visited the club, and although before my time, a great lead in his day, they tell me. I'll miss him, a true gentleman and thoroughly decent man.