Edwards on track to defend World Cup title

WAYNE MARTIN
Last updated 12:00 09/04/2014

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Jo Edwards has made a positive start to her title defence after two opening day wins at the 2014 World Cup singles bowls championships.

The Nelson trio of Edwards, Val Smith and Shannon McIlroy are New Zealand's three representatives at the world championship indoor event which began yesterday at the Warilla Bowls and Recreation Club, just south of Sydney.

Smith also remained unbeaten after a first round win and second round bye, while McIlroy won his first round match before losing to defending men's champion, Australia's Jeremy Henry, in round two.

Edwards opened her account in section one of the women's draw with a 15-5 11-5 win over Malta's Carmen Spiteri, backed up by a 12-4 9-4 win over Brunei's Amalia Matali.

Smith got up 9-8 8-6 over Fiji's Litia Tikoisuva in her only match of the day in section two and while McIlroy enjoyed a 20-2 8-6 opening round win over Guernsey's Ian Merrien, he lost 6-10 6-7 to the top-seeded Australian in their second round clash.

Henry had beaten New Zealand's Tony Grantham in last year's final.

Edwards entered the tournament with the pressure of favouritism squarely on her shoulders, not only as the defending champion, but after incredibly having won four of the last five titles. She remained unbeaten to win last year's crown, scoring a 3-8 8-3 3-2 win over Guernsey's Alison Merrien in the final, after having lost to Merrien in the 2012 decider.

Edwards has some encouraging recent form behind her, however, having won all eight of her singles matches in the Nelson women's title-winning performance at the national intercentre championships in Wellington.

Smith's previous best World Cup performance was in 2008 when she won the silver medal, while McIlroy reached the quarterfinals in 2011.

Edwards was due to play Scotland's Caroline Brown and Japan's Hiroko Emura in today's two rounds, while Smith was up against Israel's Merle Apter and Canada's Kelly McKerihen. McIlroy was scheduled to meet Norfolk Island's Ryan Dixon and Canada's Vincent Mai.

The championships end next Wednesday.

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- Nelson

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