Rotorua tourney provides perfect blend of laughs and competition

Bowlers are often accused of not knowing how to enjoy themselves.

But a trip to the New Zealand Maori tournament in Rotorua at the weekend provided me with a classic exhibition of competition and companionship being blended beautifully.

Easy-listening music from the 60s drifted across the green and many a melodic voice joined the chorus. Loud laughter was the standard response to a bad bowl and good bowls were complimented irrespective of whose team delivered the bowl.

The usual bowling green address of "mate" was replaced by "bro, cuz, sis and missy", and through it all the bowls was of a high standard.

In the clubrooms afterwards the guitars came out, the kai was ka pai and again laughter rang out long and loud. It was a privilege to have this reminder of how to have simple, uncomplicated fun.

Some lessons there for us all; enjoy the game for what it is, love your team and opposition but don't take yourself too seriously. The sun will come up the next day but enjoy your game like it might be your last.

■ On my way back from my home town, I tested the hospitality at the tiny South Waikato club of Arapuni by playing in a triples tournament.

As is always expected, we were treated like royalty in the country. Nigel Reid a colleague from Hamilton and my brother Mick formed the triple and we were lucky enough to take first prize as the only four-winner. The tournament drew a capacity field of 16, with so many visitors that only two lots of locals could get a game.

■ Back to Manawatu and the completion of champion-of-champions pairs and fours on Saturday saw Northern win both women's events and and Palmerston North perform similarly in the men's competition.

I was delighted to see Brian Henn achieve the much-coveted gold star when he went off the front in the Palmerston North four. The first of his five titles was way back in 1987 and he has been a consistent performer right through and still ranks as one of the finest leads around.

Henn's skip Chris Barrett won his 10th title thus adding a bar to his gold star. The other members of the four were Ron Henn and Brian Little and it was some compensation for Little and the two Henns, who finished runners-up in the prestigious Taranaki Open only three weeks ago.

After being part of the winning open triple at anniversary weekend, Pat Horgan and Ross Ellery added the pairs by making no race of their game against Johnston Park's Simon Westby and Mike Sinclair. Horgan had only just added the second bar to his gold star so can now set out to make it 20 titles.

The Northern pair of Sharon Sims and Sue Meyer were overwhelming favourites but they received the fright of their bowling lives before wresting victory from Johnston Park's Gillian Friis, who had Maureen Coffey at lead.

Now Maureen won't mind me telling you she is "quite old" and has more steel in her joints than nature ever envisaged possible. Sims needed three on the last end for the win and scored four with a bowl to spare. A true final and sometimes it all comes down to experience.

Sims and Meyer are great workers for their club and bowls generally and thoroughly deserve any success.

In the women's fours, Northern's Feona Sayle, Anna Davis, Jacinta Cousins and Julieanne Mills accounted for Sheryn Blake, Georgie Kahui-Rogers, Lindy Crawford and Anna Hammington from Terrace End.

■ Champion-of-champions will be completed this coming weekend with singles played on Saturday and finals of that and triples on Sunday.

Shannon have a moment in the sun in the women's triples when they meet Terrace End while the men's final is between top clubs, Northern and Palmerston North.

■ Don't forget Northern's Hospice tournament on Saturday, March 16.

Manawatu Standard