Marlborough finished down the track at last weekend's national inter-centre bowls championships in Auckland, although the women's team battled strongly for third place.
The championships were played for the first time under a new format, which saw zone eliminations being replaced. All centres now compete in the one location, in four sections of six, the top two from each section going into a knockout competition.
Marlborough men were pitted against Central Otago, Hawkes Bay, Bay of Plenty, Northland and traditional rivals West Coast. The first round started badly with the only win coming in the pairs where Warren Brown and Graham Hood had a two shot win over Central Otago, while Lloyd Gallop in the singles went down 16-25 to West Coast's Trevor Pascoe.
The four of skip Sanjhe Prasad, Greg Smith, Dick Jones and Craig MacDonnell at lead, struggled right through Friday's rounds, losing all three, while Brown and Hood could not maintain their momentum, also losing their next two.
Gallop picked up a 25-24 win in round two against Hawkes Bay, but completed Marlborough's rout in round three with a loss to Central Otago. With a change in positions, Smith going to skip in the four, they had a good win over Central Otago in the first game on Sunday, Gallop also having a comfortable 25- 8 win over Bay of Plenty.
The pair had a narrow five-shot loss to West Coast. Round five saw the only win coming in the pairs, Marlborough finishing with 10 points and a disappointing sixth overall, with both the four and pair struggling up front, on the star weed greens, to get enough bowls on the head for their skips to capitalise.
In the men's final, Dunedin beat Manawatu, with Mike Kernaghan completing a flawless three days, undefeated in the singles with wins over current NZ singles representatives Shannon McIlroy and Andrew Kelly.
It was also notable that Canterbury, who had won the quadrangular the previous week on their home greens, also struggled in Auckland, finishing bottom of their section.
The Marlborough women's team upstaged their male counterparts in a section that included Hawkes Bay, Counties Manakau, Wairarapa, South Otago and Thames Valley.
Sandra Bunt, after two early narrow losses in the singles, came back with a resounding 25-6 win over Thames Valley in round three.
The pair, skipped by Pam Stevens with lead Josephine Romano, lost a close first up game to Thames Valley by five shots, won the next by six before losing their last game on Friday by one shot.
Dorothy McLean's four with Mary Riddell three, Rosemary Finch two and Jan Gallop lead, beat Counties Manakau first up by four shots, but dropped their next two.
A win in all three disciplines on Saturday morning saw them sitting in second place going into the last round, but with their only win coming in the fours, both the singles and pairs losing by three shots, they slipped into third.
The women's finalists both came from zone five, which Marlborough is part of, with Canterbury and Nelson vying for top honours.
The strong Nelson lineup which included Val Smith in the singles and Jo Edwards and Ami McIlroy, nee Boyd, in the pair, went down to Canterbury where Sandra Keith and Serena Williams and the Canterbury four skipped by Bev Morel both had wins, leaving Jan Khan's battle with Smith incomplete.
Marlborough teams were also involved in development tournaments at Blenheim, Riverside and Springlands clubs over the weekend against West Coast, Buller, Canterbury and Nelson.
Canterbury took out the women's event at Springlands with Nelson second and Marlborough third. Ari Boyd and Colleen Robbins had two wins for Marlborough in the pairs as did the four of Karen Day, Frances Bradley, Pauline Low and La Rita Franklin while Pauline Bailey notched a win in the singles.
The men's event was a thriller, Nelson prevailing over Canterbury with Buller third and Marlborough fourth.
The fours combination of Salve Muollo, Paul Langley, Scott Mansfield and Ken Hart destroyed Canterbury's chances of winning with a fine victory on their way to three wins out of four matches.
In the pairs, Brian Montgomery and Phil Welch had a draw, a win and two narrow losses with singles player Josh Boyd notching two wins and two losses.
There's a busy weekend coming up again for Marlborough's top bowlers with the National interclub regional women's final at Springlands. The division one and two men's event is being held at Westport with Blenheim in division one and Picton in division two representing Marlborough.
On Saturday the junior women's Champion of Champions triples and the junior men's Champion of Champion pairs are both at the Blenheim Bowling Club while the junior Champion of Champion men's singles is at Picton.
- The Marlborough Express