For the second time in three years the Southland mixed pairs team of Gary Low, Graham Low, Jan Low and Jennifer Beattie has come agonisingly close to winning the New Zealand title.
Eight teams competed for the trophy at New Plymouth last Saturday, with the Southland combination scoring narrow wins in their first two games, against South Canterbury (8-6) and pretournament favourites Nelson (9-7). Leading at the lunch break, the Southlanders lost their momentum in the first two games of the afternoon and were beaten by North Taranaki (5-14) and Manawatu (5-16) but regained their composure to record good wins over Northland (14-5), Horowhenua (16-4) and Bay of Plenty (14-2). Guaranteed at least runner-up spot after downing Bay of Plenty, the Southland foursome needed other results to go their way but hosts North Taranaki were never in trouble against Manawatu and took the title one point ahead of Southland, with Horowhenua third.
Caroline Braithwaite won the Southern Sub-centre singles title for the first time recently, but the Pine Bush bowler was made to work hard all the way against Lindsay Maxwell (Seaward Downs) before winning 14-10. Braithwaite accounted for Peter Carnie in the semifinal 14-8, while Maxwell had edged past Clare Stronach 11-8. Meanwhile, in the championship fours the Seaward Downs team of Chris Panirau, Pera Rattray and Joe Smith all gained their first title when they combined with skip Peter Carnie to win the final against the Oteramika team of Janet Crosbie, Cliff Nicol, John Ferguson and Joan Tait, 11 shots to 8.
At Invercargill, the team of Brent Keen, Grant and Shirley Fortune triumphed in the Invercargill Sub-centre triples championship, beating Suzanne Mackie, BJ Simpson and Ann Mackie 11-7 in the final. Brian Turner, Betty Wilson and Kathleen Jack and Warwick, Sharon and Jason Gray were the beaten semifinalists.
Southland will host the annual Triangular rep fixture against South Otago and Central Otago at Invercargill on Saturday. On Sunday, around 20 club champions will contest the last open championship for the season, the Braemar Homestay-sponsored Champion of Champion singles.