Edwards bowls them over to get gold

Gold and Glasgow glory for Nelson bowler

MATT RICHENS IN GLASGOW
Last updated 11:47 28/07/2014
Jo Edwards
Getty Images

BOWLED OVER: Jo Edwards competes in the Women's Singles Lawn Bowls during day three of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Jo Edwards
Getty Images
GOLDEN MOMENT: Silver medallist Natalie Melmore of England congratulates gold medallist Jo Edwards of Nelson on the podium during the bowls women’s singles medal presentation in Glasgow.

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Jo Edwards allowed herself a "sneaky" beer to celebrate her bowls gold medal, but hopes she and good friend Val Smith can have a couple together late in the week.

Edwards and Smith both won Commonwealth Games medals this morning in Glasgow and now team up in the pairs, starting tonight.

They're great mates, but that friendship was tested when Smith was ousted from the singles spot and replaced by Edwards.

Edwards' 21-15 win in the singles this morning goes a long way to validating the selectors' decision.

But it put more pressure on the Nelson bowler and has made for interesting times between her and Smith. "When the team was announced, the first person I thought about was Val, we've been friends for 32 years," Edwards said. "It came as as much of a surprise to me as it was to her. We talked about it and I think she summed it up best.

"She said ‘I don't think I deserve to get dropped from the singles, but you deserve a crack at it'. Unfortunately you can only have one rep."

Edwards said Smith had been fantastic about it and it hadn't affected their relationship or impacted on their work together in the pairs.

It's an event the New Zealanders will be considered one of the favourites in too.

"Val's going very, very well at the moment and I get the odd one close. She sets the pairs up and she's been doing it fantastically in the preparation so we go in with really good confidence, but obviously nothing is a given."

Of her win over birthday girl and defending gold medal winner Natalie Melmore, Edwards was rapt, but surprised to have got off to a flying start.

She led 7-0 and 15-2.

"It was actually quite a difficult situation at the start," she said.

"I just had to put my foot down, but no-one likes thumping someone. Though I knew she would come back, she's such a good player. To come back like she did shows the pedigree of the lady. She's going to be a superstar.

"The win means a lot to me. I haven't had a beer since I've been in Glasgow so I might have a sneaky one."

Earlier the women's four of skip Mandy Boyd, Smith, Amy McIlroy and Selina Goddard won bronze - New Zealand's first medal away from the velodrome and the judo mat. They beat Scotland 21-15, though the score flattered the Kiwis and didn't show how close the contest was.

Boyd was cool as ice when it mattered in a dramatic finish.

After being locked at 3-3, 6-6 and 9-9, the Kiwis pulled away to lead 16-9 with four ends to go and the bronze looked won. But the Scots pegged them back and the teams started the final end with the New Zealand four leading 16-15.

Down two shots in the final end, Boyd drove and hit the jack into the ditch. Scottish skip Margaret Lethem was unable to save the situation with her final bowl and the Kiwis picked up five shots.

"It feels unbelievable, it's like a priceless moment, unbelievable, it's perfect," McIlroy said.

Smith, who at 48 is more than twice the age of her team-mates, said the future of the sport was in good hands.

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"The young girls, even though they lack the international experience, well, Mandy's had a bit now, but the others haven't . . . they're driven, they're very mentally strong, they're fearless."

Smith said the three had all been well served by Bowls New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand in their development and she expected them to only get better.

Meanwhile McIlroy and Goddard never doubted Boyd's composure when it mattered.

"I totally had confidence in Mandy," McIlroy said.

"She was playing out of her tree that game," Goddard added.

And she was; on three occasions Boyd turned around or limited heavy deficits with her bowls.

Scotland's Lethem said Boyd's accuracy was essentially the difference.

Meanwhile, the dream is over for New Zealand's rugby sevens team. Their "drive for five" Commonwealth Games titles stumbled at the final hurdle, beaten 17-12 by South Africa in the gold medal match at Ibrox Stadium today.

Coach Gordon Tietjens' side made the final on a Games winning streak of 30 matches, stretching back to the inaugural tournament in 1998, but South Africa were too good in Glasgow.

- The Nelson Mail

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