New Zealand claimed the trans-Tasman bragging rights when the second stage of the bowls world championships got underway in Adelaide today as the Black Jacks savoured three victories over Australian opposition.
In stark contrast to the opening day of the men's singles, fours, women's pairs and triples last Saturday where Australia notched a trio of wins against their neighbours, it was the turn of New Zealand to make a solid start to pool play at their hosts expense.
Reigning singles champion Val Smith started the trend when she pipped Karen Murphy 21-20, the men's triple held their nerve when their contest was square at 10-10 with two ends remaining to eventually prevail 13-10; the women's four then recorded a comfortable 22-14 victory in the afternoon session.
"It's a much better start to this set of disciplines than the last lot," Bowls NZ head coach Dave Edwards said.
"We sort of hit some form in the previous disciplines and the players carried that form and confidence into today.
"It was nice to get a couple of Aussie scalps. It's a much better start and now it's a matter of keeping the ball rolling and the momentum ticking over."
Unfortunately for Smith the fluctuating fortunes she experienced with Jo Edwards when she started the defence of their pairs crown continued when back-to-back wins proved elusive.
Buoyed by clinching a titanic struggle with Murphy she struggled to adapt to an adjacent green at Lockleys and was edged 21-18 by Canadian Kelly McKerihen.
Smith, whose defence of the pairs title with Edwards continues in post-section play next week, had to survive one last desperate drive from Murphy before she celebrated in fairly measured tones.
The world No 4, having drawn level at the close of the penultimate end, managed to skittle a shot bowl clear of the jack with her last delivery but could not dislodge another in close proximity, leaving the relieved New Zealander to reflect on a titanic struggle.
"It went right down to the wire, and it was just a case of trying to hold my nerve and see the game out, but it could have gone either way," Smith said.
"No one player deserved it any more than the other, to be honest.
"I was pretty much ready to accept the fact that she was going to get the shot and I was going to go down 20-21, but I'm really happy that I've come away with the win," said Smith, who takes on Wales, Israel and Thailand tomorrow.
The men's triple of Tony Grantham, Matt Gallop and Ali Forsyth were relieved to shade a low-scoring first-up encounter at Lockleys, some compensation for their failure to advance from pool play in the fours.
They then ensured that promising start did not go to waste by beating the Canadian trio 20-14 thanks to Forsyth extricating them from a couple of potentially tricky situations.
Unsuccessful fours skip Richard Girvan also bounced back from that setback in tandem with Shannon McIlroy as they opened their pairs programme with an 18-13 victory over Malaysia although they dropped their second game to Canada 26-13.
Lisa White, Jan Khan, Mandy Boyd and Edwards could not be separated from Scotland at Holdfast Bay where they shared a 14-14 stalemate but finished with a flourish to put away the Jackaroos and sit pretty in pool one.
The competitors defied furnace-like conditions as a heat wave struck South Australia, the temperatures rose to 36degC before a downpour slowed the greens in the afternoon.
- © Fairfax NZ News