Southland bowlers have again confirmed that they can be competitive in the upper echelon of New Zealand provincial teams with both the ladies' and men's zone teams qualifying for the playoffs at last week's national inter-centre championships in Wellington.
All but one of the 28 provincial teams competed for the supreme title of top centre. Teams of seven (singles, pairs and fours) were seeded into four sections and the top two teams proceeded to the quarter-final knockout stages.
The Southland ladies started slowly but two wins in the third round elevated them to be handily placed at third with two rounds to play. Three wins on Saturday morning moved them to first equal and although they managed only one win in the final round, results of other games assured them of a place in post-section.
The men started strongly and held first position in their section after the first two rounds. Four wins from nine games dropped the team to second behind near neighbours Central Otago, but the team rallied to secure three wins from the final two rounds in blustery conditions to secure second place and a playoff spot.
The random draw for post-section play resulted in the ladies facing eventual winners Nelson and the men opposed by the highly acclaimed home team from Wellington. A valiant effort by the ladies resulted in a draw in the pairs and the singles and fours losing narrowly, the singles to world number one Jo Edwards.
In the men's playoff games it all came down to the result of the pairs, after Wellington won the singles and Southland the fours. It was the experienced New Zealand representative Blake Signal who carried the day for Wellington and the hopes of Southland men progressing one step further than last year were stymied. Canterbury won the men's title.
Results of individual combinations for the ladies were (six games) - singles four wins, pairs one win and a draw, fours three wins and a draw. For the men (seven games) - singles three wins, pairs three wins, and fours six wins.
As the season draws to a close two more men's championships will be decided at the Woodlands green this weekend - the champion of champion singles today and the champion of champion triples tomorrow.
- The Southland Times